6 Essentials of Good Basketball Drills

What makes a basketball drill good? To be more precise, what differentiates effective from ineffective basketball drills?

I’m continually wrestling with these types of questions. With all the drills that are being put out there nowadays, you must have a way to sift through the clutter. Once you do, you then have to be able to effectively present that basketball drill to your team or training group.

Dongguan Basketball School

In my observations, all good teacher-coaches are concise and methodical in their delivery of their basketball drills in order to maximize the learning of their athletes and also to run efficient practices.

What’s your methodology (or process) for explaining, demonstrating, correcting and evaluating the strength of the instruction in your practice—either your own or your assistant coaches?

You Have The WHAT, Here’s The HOW…

On a recent trip to China, I had the distinct pleasure of spending time at the Dongguan Basketball School (DBS). The DBS is an NBA training centre that is focused on “developing elite young basketball talent in China.” The initiative, in collaboration with the Chinese Basketball Association, is headed by their Technical Director, Bruce Palmer.

Coach Palmer brings with him a wealth of coaching successes having coached for many years in Australia’s pro league, the NBL, and also in Asia and the Middle East. He is affable and has a zest and charisma about him that makes you feel like you’re being welcomed back to the neighborhood by an old friend.

He generously shared his six-point checklist for what makes basketball drills effective; and, in turn, gave me the green light to share freely. (Again, affirming that the best are sharers!). Here they are…

1. Explain Why The Drill Is Important

Why is the skill important? How does it apply in games? You can’t assume that your athletes will always be able to make the connection between how one drill fits with another or to the game itself.

2. Demonstrate What You Want

Have players walk through the procedures for the drill. Be sure to demonstrate correct fundamentals. And correct errors in either their procedure or fundamentals. This takes more time early, but pays dividends later.

3. Introduce A Challenge

For example: multiple fundamentals practiced, offense and defense, a specified number or correct attempts within a specified period of time.

4. Time, Score, and Personal Best

All drills are competitive. Coaches and players should be aware of specific personal best goals in all timed drills.

5. Correct On The Run

Provide individual instruction during rest between repetitions without stopping the entire group.

6. Repetition Is Lord and Master

Seven (7) repetitions should result in a minimum of one new fundamental executed correctly. More complex skills, like reading the second line of the defense, for example, require regular repetition.

So there they are.

What Do You Think?

Do you agree or disagree? I’m *really* interested to hear what you think in the comments section. What’s your methodology or progression for introducing and teaching within drills?

Talk to me. I’m fascinated with great teaching—especially when one can articulate it in a way that allows another to replicate it.