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The biggest and most important job of any coach is player development.  Coaches are constantly required to make their players better in the off-season with the right player development drills.  As I have long believed, games are won and lost during the off-season.  The better your players develop, the better your team becomes and the more games your team will win.

However, there are some things that have to be taken into consideration when it comes to putting together the right drills for a player development program.  The biggest of these is understanding the skill sets of your players and getting them to improve existing skill sets and developing new ones.

One final note should be made before moving to the drills: between each of the five drills after the warm up, we want the players to shoot ten free throws.  This will allow to not only develop their free throw shooting abilities, it will also help them develop a shot that has so much repetition that it almost becomes automated.

Warming Up

When getting players warmed up, we want them to develop confidence in their ability to shoot the basketball.  The way in which we do this is to have our players start by shooting set shots along the free throw lane using each marker and block on the lane lines, two shots at each elbow and a free throw to boost their confidence.

Diagram 1 shows the rotation in which the shots will be taken.  We do not want any of the shots to hit the rim and we do not allow the players to move to the next spot until they make the shot.

Diagram 1

After having gone through the first part of the warm-up, we have the players take a step back from the spots from where they shot the basketball.  We want to teach our players to try hard to not hit the rim when shooting these shots.  Whereas the first group of shots were set shots along the free throw lane, these shots are a step back so as to help players get comfortable shooting mid-range jump shots.


Once the players are warmed up, the drills will commence.  It is after the ensuing five drills that each player will shoot 10 free throws.

3's, 2's and 1's

The first drill that we do after the warm-up is called "3's, 2's and 1's".  This drill is done in four rounds and we will keep score on three different types of shots.  If a player hits a jump shot from one of the nine spots behind the three-point line (Diagram 3), he will score three points.  If a player uses a pump fake and scores off of one dribble, that will be worth two points.  If a player attacks the rim off of one dribble without the pump fake, that is worth one point.

Diagram 3

From each of the nine spots, the offensive player will either take a three, pump fake and score off of one dribble, or put the ball on the floor for one dribble and score.  This will be based on what the offensive player's partner (as the defender) gives the offensive player.  There will be a total of nine shots taken during each round and the defense will give the offense one of the three shots available.

If the offensive player can score a lay-up off of one dribble without traveling, that will be just fine.  If that player cannot do that, we want him to come to a jump stop off of the dribble and shoot a jump shot.

Each player will take turns on offense and defense.  The drill starts with the offensive player receiving a pass from his partner which is then followed up by the offensive player's partner closing out on defense and dictating what happens (Diagram 4).

Diagram 4

Each player will keep score for each of the four rounds and total their score.  Whoever has the most points will win the drill.

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