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Skill Development Practice Concepts

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

We are going to try and incorporate Skill Development into every single practice plan we make. Here are some of the practice concepts that we commonly use.


In this post, we are taking a look at offensive Skill Development and how we incorporate it into our practices. I am looking at Skill Development as the fundamentals that are going to help us succeed in the offensive system we are running. These are not going to be things that change year to year because these fundamental skills; ball-handling, finishing, shooting, & decision making are going to be necessary regardless of what system you are running. Perhaps we may lean more heavily on one particular skill if it is weak or if it is a bigger component of your offensive system, but for the most part, these are universal fundamental skills.


I wanted to make a few points about practice planning before we dive into the practice concepts. My first point is that from a practice design standpoint, we want to incorporate Skill Development into every practice plan. If we get lost in the schematic part of coaching and ignore the Skill Development aspect, then we won't see the improvement that is necessary for us to succeed. My second point was that we have to make sure that our practice concepts are evolving over the course of the season. We need to add appropriate layers of decision-making and complexity to our practice concepts as we move through the season.



Here are some other Skill Development Posts to Check out:



Passing & Ball Handling -

Passing & Ball Handling are two of the core fundamentals that we are going to incorporate into our practices. The ability to handle the basketball without turning it over is essential for the guards in our program. Creating space and finding ways to attack the rim from neutral situations are things we must work on. Being able to pass the basketball on time and on target is a skill that is essential to nearly any offense. We are going to make sure that we find ways to incorporate that in practice one way or another.


Five Spot Passing -

Concept:

The main concept is that you make an on-target pass and then rotate to the line that you passed to.


In the top-left diagram, you can see the rotation that a player would make from spot to spot.


Passing:

Coaches can demand any pass that they want, but we typically require every pass to be an on-target chest pass, except the last one.


The last pass from 4-5 should be a timed bounce pass for a layup.




1/1 Sideline -

Organization:

Players are paired up with someone of a similar skill set. We are generally going to get 5 lines across the court to maximize the number of players involved.


Goals:

We have two basic goals with this concept:

  • Work on Dribble Attack Moves

  • Work on Creating Space


How it Works:

One each trip down the court we want to get players to work on 1) The Dribble Move, and 2) Creating Space.

As you can see in the left-hand diagram we would like the move to be made about a third of the way down the court, and then again about 2/3 of the way down the court. After the second move we are asking the offensive player to create space from his defender using a pull-back dribble.

  • Make Sure to change Off to Def at each end of the Court



Four Square -

Organization:

Players are going to get in four lines facing the half-court circle. We want to keep the groups small and only have about 3-4 players in each line.


Goals:

The goal of this practice concept is to work on our Dribble Stops.

  • Passing

  • Stride Stops

  • Pivoting

  • Escape Plans


How it Works:

We want all four lines attacking at the same time, using the center circle line as our stopping point. Essentially we are working on various aspects of our ball handling, Dribble Stops, and Escape Plans. On almost every aspect we are conducting our move and then passing to the next person in our line.

  • This is Mostly an Early Season Practice Concept




Finishing -

The most efficient shot in the game is a layup, but realistically very few layups come uncontested. So if we want to maximize our offensive efficiency we need to make finishing a high-priority skill in our practices. The options to work on finishing in practice are virtually endless, but there are few things that I think coaches should take into consideration when choosing which concept to employ.

  • Where do the majority of your scoring drives come from?

  • How can we add Guided or Live Defense?

  • What finishing techniques will we teach?


Check Out our Finishing School Deep Dive Page:


1/0 Finishing -

Organization:

Ideally, we want to use as many baskets as possible to increase reps. In most cases, we are using the four side hoops in groups of three.


From a spacing perspective we are going to be attacking from the most common scoring areas :

  • The Slot

  • The Wing


Goals:

This is probably a concept that we are using early in the season as we are teaching guys the technique of the finishes.


Our Goals are:

  • Perfect Technique

  • Then Apply Decision-Making


How it Works:

We are simply creating small groups (2-3 Players) and working on attacking the rim with the intent to finish in a certain way. Once a player finishes at the rim, he returns to the end of the line, and the next player attacks the rim.




1/1 Russian -

Organization:

Players get in two lines, each one starting on the baseline, near the three-point line.


If coaches want to reduce lines I recommend splitting into two groups and then using an Assistant Coach at the other end of the court.


Goals:

The goal is to work on finishing at the rim with some form of resistance by the defense. We are typically going to use two phases to the concept:

  • Guided - Prescribed Defensive Action

  • Live - Player Determined Defensive Reaction


How it Works:

Essentially the player with the basketball conducts a DHO with the other player who is circling the three-point line. Once the handoff is conducted, the player with the ball attacks the rim, and the other scrambles to defend the drive.

  • Once the shot is taken the next two players go.




2/2 Russian -

Organization:

Here we are building off of the previous concept by preloading the help defense.


Again, we are getting into two lines with a pair of players designated as either our interior help or perimeter help.


Goals:

We are trying to work on two concepts that are seen in nearly every offense:

  • The Drop Pass

  • The Quick Pitch


How it Works:

Just as in the above concept we are conducting our DHO and then attacking the rim. This time we have some quick decisions to make with our help defense.

  • Drop Pass - vs Center Help do we Finish to Drop it Down

  • Quick Pitch - vs Perimeter Help do we Finish or Kick Out