No matter what age you’re coaching, fundamental basketball drills should be a key component of your practices. For younger players, it’s important to teach the basics of the game, giving them a foundation to build more advanced skills in the future. And for older players, it’s important to return back to the fundamentals to reinforce critical techniques and avoid developing bad habits.
Below are 9 fundamental basketball drills to help you get back to the basics and accelerate your team’s development!
3 on 2 - 3 Man Weave
Here's a twist on the classic 3-man weave. It helps your team develop passing, spacing, transition offense and defense.
- Start with three offensive players on the baseline (player 1, 2 and 3). And a defender in each corner (x1 and x2)
- The three offensive players perform a 3-man weave to the opposite baseline, then come back on offense
- The two defenders sprint down and around a cone placed at the opposite foul line extended, then come back on defense
- Play 3 on 2 until a score or defensive rebound
- The defenders should get back into a high/low position, with one player at the free throw line and one protecting the basket.
- The offense is allowed a maximum of two passes. They should should try to score quickly, while they have the 3 on 2 advantage
Closing out the shooter is a critical skills for individual and team defense. Players must learn to get out on a threatening offensive player on the perimeter, without overcommitting and leaving themselves vulnerable to the drive.
- Set up a line of players at the wing
- A defender stands under the basket in help side position
- Coach stands on the opposite wing with the ball
- Once the ball is passed to the offensive player, the defender sprints out to the ball with choppy feet, one hand in the passing lane, and the other hand on the ball in order to disrupt a shot or pass.
- Offensive player has two dribbles to blow by defender. Keep playing missed shot until a defensive rebound is secured
Here's a transition drill which requires great communication as players sprint into defensive position. Players typically have difficulty stopping the ball and the closest man picks up the ball and drives the ball to the sideline.
- Line five defenders up on the foul line extended (1-5), and five offensive players up on the baseline (x1-x5)
- Coach will call out the name of one defensive player, then pass the ball to the offensive team.
- The defender who was called (player 3 in the diagram below), runs to touch the baseline, then sprints back on defense. The other 4 defensive players sprint back on defense immediately.
- At the same time, x1 to x5 fast break to the opposite end and try to score while they have a 5 on 4 advantage
- The defensive team needs to communicate and decide immediately who will stop the ball and how they will guard the 5 on 4 fast break. They continue to communicate as the 5th player joins them, matching up into a man to man defense
- The offensive team should try to get a quick high percentage shot while they have the 5 on 4 advantage
Print n' Go Basketball Practice Plans
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Inside Print n' Go Basketball Practice Plans, you'll get instant access to 18 fundamental basketball drills for shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding and defense. All organized into 6 printable practice plans you can take right to the gym!
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Here's another fundamental basketball drill that focuses on team defense. It's a variation of the shell drill, where points are only scored on defensive stops.
- Set up five offensive players (1 to 5) and five defensive players (x1 to x5) in the 3 out 2 in formation shown below
- Play 5 on 5, while practicing proper help defensive principles. Player guarding the ballhandler is pressuring the ball and forcing her to the sideline. Defender guarding one pass away is denying the pass. Player guarding two or more passes away is in help side position.
- The defense earns a point for every successful stop. First team to 4 points wins.
- The offense can rotate to the defensive side by scoring. Offense shoots to get onto the defensive side of the ball.
- This drill works best with three or four groups competing for 7-8 minutes at a time.
- Everyone has to closeout, move while ball is in the air, and rebound.
This is a challenging drill“ that works on perimeter defense, conditioning and mental toughness. Kids typically have fun trying to stop all three in the time allotted.
- Start with one defender under the basket and three offensive players around the perimeter
- Time is set from 25-35 seconds and the ball always begins under the basket.
- The defender rolls the ball to any of the three players and closes out and defends.
- The offensive player is allowed two dribbles.
- If offensive player scores, the defender close out and defend the same player again.
- Continue until the defender stops all three players OR time is up
Man in Hole
Here's another classic fundamental basketball drill which works on defensive slide technique, dribbling, and conditioning.
- Place a line of players in each corner. The first player in each line is the defender. The second player is the ballhandler
- The ballhandler zig-zags to the opposite end of the court while the defender shuffles and slides with him, turning him from side to side.
- One they reach the end, the defenders sprints back full speed and defends the next player in line
- Repeat, so the defender zig-zags with 3 consecutive ballhandlers
- Rotate in a new defender and repeat.
- A little twist on this drill is having the defenders hold a basketball and push on the dribbler in the defensive stance trying to knock the dribbler off balance. The ball must stay in contact with the dribbler at all times or that one dribbler gets reset to the beginning and the defender has to start over with that dribbler.
Contest the Shot Drill
Here's a simple shooting drill which will help your kids practice getting a shot off with defensive pressure.
Players form lines on the baseline at the intersection of the lane lines. At each elbow – place 1 shooter and another player at each elbow. Two balls in each line.
- Player #1 passes to player #3, who 1-2 steps into a jump shot. While # 1 closes out hand up.
- Shooter (#3) holds follow though while # 1 turns to practice block out of shooter.
- Run the same sequence on both sides of the basket, passing diagonally across the key
- Shooter retrieves the balls and the drill continues.
- After 3-5 minutes of catch and shoot, we have the players catch on the 1-2 step and make a 1 dribble move first – both players to the right for 3-minutes then both players to the left for three minutes.
- With the diagonal pattern, the rebounders pursuing the ball, and the simulated chaos, this drill creates a game-like situation.
- Emphasize low and explosive moves at a 45 degree angle to get separation then a solid jump stop.
Princeton Shooting Drill
Players learn to make hard cuts, receive the ball and get their shot off in this fast-paced drill.
- Players line up at foul line extended – Drill can use two balls, but you will quickly move to four balls to keep it moving. A chair is placed at foul line to act as screener.
- #1 cuts hard to the ball, “curls” to the basket, receives a pass from #2 and shoots a lay-up off one or two feet as designated by coach.
- The passer #2 immediately cuts to receive a pass from #3 and calls “curl” and receives a pass for a lay-up.
- Drill continues as players rebound own shot and outlet to end of line and switch lines. Go for 2-3 minutes.
- Next, using same alignment and format, have player cut straight to the ball off screen and receive ball for an elbow jumper.
- Emphasize: Good passes with hand away from defense –left hand from right wing.
- Also quick turn, shoulders squared and quick release. Go for 2 -3 minutes.
- Next, have players cut hard to the chair and call “ flare” and back pedal for an overhead pass for a jumper.
- Emphasize hard cut, passer fake pass to past or corner then rise up to throw overhead pass.
- For shooter get feet set, shoulders squared – form shooting on the move. Go 2 -3 minutes.
Rainbow Shooting Drill
Here's another one of our favorite fundamental basketball drills for shooting. You'll get a ton of reps in only 3-5 minutes.
- Set up two lines of players on the baseline at intersection of lane line – two balls.
- Player 1 runs an arc to other side of basket, receives a pass from Player 2, and drives knee up to a one foot layup. Then goes to the back of the opposite line.
- Player 2 arcs back to other side and receives pass goes off one foot for layup. Then goes to the back of the opposite line.
- Emphases should be on: pass high; shooter keep ball up; “high and soft off boards – bank swish”.
- Go for 1 minute.
- Next step - players come to two foot jump stop , shoulders parallel to baseline (don’t let them open up) Protect ball - go up for Power layup. Go for 1 minute.
- Next step - Bank shots from the blocks . Emphasize “high and soft – kiss off boards” pivot on inside foot. Go for 1 minute.
- Next step, Elbow jumpers – Emphasize pivot on inside foot. Quick turn, shoulders squared and quick release.
- “Form shooting on the move” Go for 2 minutes.
- Finally. 3 pt FG's for those who have that range. Emphasize – no change in form.
More Fundamental Basketball Drills
If you need more help teaching the basics, check out our beginner basketball drills. Or, if you need some tips on organizing your gym time, here's a great read on basketball practice plans.