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Finishing School (II) - Practice Drills

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

Part II of the Finishing School series is going to focus on the single player and 1/1 drills that we use to work on finishing at practice.

Our Finishing School segment of practice is a 15-20 minute window in which we will present a progression of drills to work on finishing at the rim. We will use a combination of 1/0 Technique Finishes, 1/1 Guided Defense, and then 1/1 Live Play to allow players the opportunity to work on finishing in a progressive format. I think in general it is worthwhile to cut down on the total number of "different drills" you use in these segments, and focus your efforts on improving the technique of the finishes.

1/0 Finishing

1/0 Finishing is something we are doing at the start of practice. This is a drill segment focused on the footwork and technique required in various finishes that we want our players to use. We want the attacks to come from the most common driving areas in our offense. That being said the majority of them will begin with a drive from the slot or the wing. Since we generally like to build with a progression of drills the most common 'starting drill' we use is what we call 1/0 Finishing.

Some Thoughts About Organization:

1. Create Groups of 3-4 Players, Utilize as Many Baskets as Possible.

2. Pick a Few Finishes each Day & Focus in on them.

3. Make it Competitive, Award "Wins" to the group with the Fewest Misses.

Russian Series

The Russian Series of Finishing Drills is something that we have come to use a lot in practice. It is a simple drill that is really easy to load and unload. The Drill will always begin with a Dribble Handoff at the Point (Although Sometimes We will start at the Wing), and then transform into a 1/1 or 2/2 opportunity. After Finishing at the rim players switch lines and play the other side of the ball.

The Russian Series is simulating a Slot Drive and then the two most common reads that you will encounter vs help defense. In most cases we will start the Russian Series with a 'Guided Defense Instruction' (Examples Listed Below). After a few repetitions we will then move to a Live Session in which the defense is just trying to get a stop or contest the finish.

1/1 Guided Defense:

Generally we like starting the Drill with "Guided Defense". In a segment like this we are telling the defense what to do. This does not involve much decision making, but will put a little more stress on the offense to finish. This can help to give players a more realistic context for the "why?" in the game setting.

Examples of Guided Defense Instructions:

1. Extended Arm or Scoop = Try to Block from Behind

2. Stride Stop, or Inside Hand = Meet them at the Rim for a Block

3. Stride Stop, Reverse Pivot = Defense Cuts them off, forcing the stop

4. Jump Stop = Defense Slaps at the ball, to Simulate "Going Through Arms"

2/2 Session Guided Defense Instructions:

1. 2/2 Drop - Tell Center to Attack the Ball every 3rd Rep

2. 2/2 Drop - Tell Center to Stay with his man every other Rep

3. 2/2 Drop - Tell the Defender top Switch, Forcing a Barkley or Stride Stop

4. 2/2 Quick Pitch - Tell the Corner Help to Attack the Ball Every 3rd Rep

5. 2/2 Quick Pitch - Tell the Defender to Stunt Everytime

Live Sessions

The Live Sessions would ultimately involve the most decision making and would be scenarios where coaches would back off and allow the players to choose which option applies.

3/3 Double Gaps

Obviously Finishing does not always happen in neat 1/1 or 2/2 scenarios, so having a few drills in your Finishing School segments that present players with Double Gaps to attack off the dribble will add value to the session. We like to use a drill called 3/3 Double Gap which allows us to explore three different Dribble Attack options. We like this segment a lot because 1) they are rules within our offense, and 2) they both create Double Gaps for our offensive players to apply decision making.

3/3 Double Gap Options:

A. Slot to Slot Pass = The Passer Automatically Cuts to the Ball Side Corner (Blur)

B. Slot to Wing Pass = Passer Automatically Cuts Away

C. Swing/Snap = Ball Gets Doubled & Passed Down

Resource on Finishing Technique:

Check Out Doug Novak's 'Point of Attack' Video & Webpage (Bethel College):

Resources for Creating Double Gaps:

Check Out @RadiusAthletics's articles for more info on 'Double Gaps':

Concluding Thoughts

Regardless of what your team does on the offensive end scheme wise, having a Finishing School segment in your practice plans can pay dividends. I believe that showing players different finishes, when to use them, and then giving them opportunities to apply them at practice is an effective way to present it. The drills that you use do not have to be overly complex or involved, but simply present the players will opportunity to learn the technique, and then add context to it.

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