DDM Practice Design

Updated: Aug 24

What goes into planning a typical dribble drive motion practice plan? We'll take a look at a sample plan and discuss the concepts, time allotment, and drill selection.


Practice planning is one of the great obsessions of basketball coaches at all levels. There is probably no aspect of their job that coaches spend more time on than designing the perfect practice plan. To me, this is the area where you can have the greatest impact on your team. So it should go without saying that your practices should be designed with player development in mind.


My personal approach to practice planning is centered around four main themes: Skill Acquisition, Transition Development, Short Sided Games, and 5v5 Live Play. As I said in the Identifying DDM Skills blog post we want to identify the skills that are necessary to succeed in our schemes and then embed those skills in every aspect of the practice. We believe that the combination of skill development, small-sided games, and realistic five-on-five play will leave our players well prepared for game day. 



Sample Practice Plan -

The vast majority of our practices are going to be either 1:30 or 2:00 hours long. During this timeframe we want to make sure that we work on all four phases of the game; half-court offense, transition offense, half-court defense, and transition defense. As we mentioned in the introduction we also want to embed skill development into as much of the practice as possible. Some practices may lean more heavily on one of these categories, but we are going to build almost every practice plan with these practice concepts.


Practice Time Allotments:

  • 15-20 Min – Skill Building

  • 20-30 Min – Transition Systems

  • 20-30 Min – Small-Sided Games

  • 30-40 Min – 5/5 Live Play 


I - Skill Building

Here we want to develop players’ skill sets with the ball in their hands, define the decision-making process on the catch, and establish the spacing-related decisions needed off the basketball.


II - Transition                      

We're working on establishing Running Lanes, our Read Progression, emphasizing finding Early Advantages, and teaching how to Seamlessly Flow into your Half Court Offense.


III - Small-Sided Games:

In this part of the practice, we are Using 2/2, 3/3, & 4/4 Play to teach players how to attack space, how to create Double Gaps, how to react to penetration, and how to properly second-cut.


IV - 5/5 Live Play:

In general, we are trying to recreate game-like 5/5 scenarios in the Half Court, Full Court, and Special Situations. I also like the idea of mixing up how we start the 5/5 segments; using Small Advantage, Disadvantage, and Neutral Starts to a possession.



I - Skill Development

As a Dribble Drive Motion team, we want to tailor our skill development to what our players are going to need to excel in the games. As we discussed in our, Identifying DDM SKills blog post, we have determined that dribble attacks, dribble stops, finishing at the rim, drive & kick shooting, and help defense decision-making are essential skills for our players. We typically start with 1/0 and 2/0 drills to introduce the technique and footwork involved in a particular skill. Then we will eventually introduce guided defense and live play so players can apply the skills in real-time.


Finishing Practice Concept:

"1/0 Finishing School" -

This is more of an introductory practice concept to work on finishing technique. As we are playing in a four-out alignment we want to work on the most common attacking angles:

  • Slot Drives

  • Wing Drives

Once our players are comfortable with the finishing technique we will then add guided defense and live 1/1 finishing.


"Finishing School" -

There are a number of finishes that are working on in this portion of practice. If you are interested in a more detailed explanation of this aspect of practice I would encourage you to check out our Finishing School Series:


Video - various clips of 1/0 Finishing being executed, using four hoops preferred.



II - Transition

Dribble Drive Motion teams generally have an attack mentality built into their half-court play, and we want them to extend that mindset into the full court as well. We view the transition development portion of our practice as a critical element to our success. In a typical practice, we carve out at least 20-30 minutes to be dedicated to fine-tuning our Transition System.


The progression for this block begins with 5/0 work where players are learning their running lanes and working their way through our transition options. From there, we will progress to 5/3 where the offense is working on finding the advantage as quickly as possible. Finally, we will work 5/5 with the goal of becoming completely seamless from transition to half-court offense. We will often use drills that give the offense a slight advantage, which they can use to score or to flow into the half-court offense.


Transition Practice Concept:

"2.0 Trips" -

This is one of our core practice concepts in which we are working on perfecting our Running Lanes and Read Progressions.


We split our team into two groups and ask that they get up and down the floor two times, executing a transition option on each trip. Obviously, this is something that you can tailor to fit your own transition system.


Drill Progression:

  • Trip .5 - Pitch Opposite

  • Trip 1.0 - Pitch Ball Side

  • Trip 1.5 - Attack the Rim

  • Trip 2.0 - Trailer Entry


For the last five seasons, we have used a Rim Runner in our transition break. In the video clip below you will notice that we are pitching ahead and then entering the ball into the post. If you have assistant coaches I would recommend added them under the basket so that your post player has a body to work against. I also wanted to note that In the diagram above I have drawn the drill up for a Two-Sided Break system. We are moving towards a more open transition system and so this is how I would adapt the drill for that change. You may also choose to add defense to the last possession of the drill - which we will oftentimes do.




III - Small-Sided Games

Using Small-Sided Games has become an integral part of our practice plans in recent years. We typically use various 2/2, 3/3, and 4/4 games to allow our players to get more touches and opportunities to apply the skills we’ve worked on in our skill development portions of practice. In this section of practice, we are trying to create game-like scenarios and decision-making moments.


There are three key Dribble Drive Motion concepts we want to address here:

  • Second Cutting – Knowing where to cut while anticipating a dribble stop.

  • Penetration Reactions – How to maximize spacing off the basketball.

  • Creating Double Gaps – How to pass and cut to create the double gaps we need to drive the basketball into.

These are concepts that we need our players to be able to execute in the games, so we must provide them with problem-solving opportunities in our practices. Most coaches who are familiar with Vance Wahlberg’s Blood Drills can easily use those concepts in this portion of practice as well. Whether you create your own practice concepts or use Wahlberg's Blood Drills we need to make sure that we are finding time to work on these decision-making skills; second cutting, penetration reaction, and creating double (or triple gaps).


SSG Practice Concept:

"3/3 Blur Screen" -

In our half-court offense, we place a lot of emphasis on hunting the slot-to-slot pass, followed by a Blur Screen. We are trying to create confusion while opening up a double gap for the basketball to drive into.


So with 3/3 Blur, we are trying to recreate a few of our playing rules surrounding this concept.


Pass & Cut Rules:

  • Slot to Slot, Blur Cut

  • Pass Down, Cut Away


Players will be simply playing 3/3 with Cutthroat Rules (You Score, you Stay) working on all aspects of our half-court offense; pass & cut, driving double gaps, second cutting, etc.


Video - these are just short clips of our players working on 3/3 Blur.



IV - 5/5 Live Play

Ultimately, the game is played 5/5, so we must find an appropriate amount of time to work in this manner. Over the years, one thing that I have really tried to stop doing is constantly interrupting live play. Trying to find a balance between "letting them play" and stopping to make corrections is one of the most difficult aspects of coaching 5/5 play. One way I try to find that balance in practice is to set a clear end to a live play segment. I will often use a "Here, There, & Back" concepts to allow players to get 3 uninterrupted possessions, while also giving me a chance to make any appropriate corrections at its conclusion.


One example of this concept being executed would be starting the possession in a BLOB or SLOB opportunity. The team on offense would get an opportunity to work on a special situation, then is forced to defend in transition, followed by a transition opportunity of their own. Perhaps we simply start the possession with a small advantage and then allow it to play out in the half-court, followed by the "There & Back" possessions.


5/5 Practice Concept:

"Here, There, & Back" -

As discussed above we will ask our offense to execute our SLOB action.

  • Back Screen Entry

  • DHO to Inbounder

  • Blur Screen Action

From here the offense will work until they get a good shot.


"There & Back" -

Once the ball is scored, or the defense gains possession, play will continue down the other end and back again.


These possessions should be uninterrupted and coaches should hold their critiques until the end of the possession.



Video Clips - here are a few practice clips paired with similar game usage.



Concluding Thoughts

The sample practice plan that was shared in the tweet is one that includes all four of these elements; Skill Development, Transition, Small-Sided Games & 5/5 Play. To some extent, these four elements are going to be included in every single practice plan. Whether we are discussing Dribble Drive Motion or any other type of offense my approach is to Identify what the Essential Skills are and then embed them into every element of practice.


Improving our players' skills and then providing them with the space to apply those skills is at the heart of a dribble-drive offense. Players will thrive in the DDM offense with great floor spacing and the creation of driving gaps on the perimeter. The more that we can help our players learn how to create and attack that space, the more prepared for games they will be. 


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Coach Lynch Contact Info:

Email - mflynch21@yahoo.com

Twitter - @CoachLynch_21

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