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Five Basic Principles for Getting the Most Out of Basketball Drills

If you intend to be an effective coach, you will need to run organized and strategic practices.

Having a plan for your practice is important - and that plan will obviously include LOTS of basketball drills. But just penciling them in won't be enough...

Take the following five principles into consideration as you chose and implement your basketball drills to ensure that you're not just working hard, but that you're also working SMART!

1) Choose basketball drills that address the real needs of your team. Running drills that are too advanced for the skill level of your team will frustrate your players, and running drills that are too simple for the skill level of your team will bore them. Study your players carefully, and then decide which skills need the most attention. Then find drills that provide repetition in those skills. For example, if you notice that many of your players don't know how to pivot effectively, find drills that provide focused repetition on pivoting. At first, you should use drills that allow the players to perform pivots without any defensive pressure. Once they master the form, then find drills that add defensive pressure. If you jump to defensive pressure drills without first drilling your players on basic form, they will struggle with the skill.

2) Run your basketball drills with intensity. If you don't demonstrate your belief in the value of the drill, your players will notice and will not be motivated to focus and exert. Insist on focus and intensity and give appropriate feedback constantly. Encouraging words are infectious! Transition from drill to drill quickly and smoothly within a practice. Again, planning is essential so that your practice is intense rather than frantic or lackadaisical.

3) Use basketball drills that minimize inactivity. Practice time is valuable, and there is no reason to use drills that have eight players standing in line while two players are doing something. Do your best to keep your players engaged and active most of the time. Split your players up into smaller groups and utilize all the practice locations available to help with this.

4) Set performance goals for your basketball drills. Provide your players with a performance incentive for some of your drills. For instance, if you're doing a full-court passing and lay-in drill, you could establish some standards for successful repetitions and then reward the team with a treat for meeting a stated number of successful repetitions without a mistake. This kind of set-up builds in some fun and focus to practice routines.

5) Vary the basketball drills that you use. Nothing is more deadly than overdoing a drill. One way to keep things fresh is to have some options. Many drills address the same skill, and changing the format up slightly helps keep players from tuning out. With so many good options readily available, it is really quite easy to find enough good drills to keep your practices interesting without sacrificing your developmental goals. Keep an organized drill file and review it often.


Jeff Haefner is the author of the free eBook Winning Basketball Drills. For 72 highly effective basketball drills that are completely free, check out