A Summary of Developing Players’ Decision Making by Allison McNeill

April 6, 2015

“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.” – Charlie Munger


I know sometimes it is difficult to find the time to search for great content. It is even more difficult to invest the time to watch everything you find. One of the advantages of being a full-time basketball coach is that I have time. I am always trying to learn more and stimulate my coaching. In this video, Coach McNeill is trying to get players to have more creativity and to improve their decision making. She argues that too many players have all the skills but no decision making ability.

To save you time, here is my summary of Coach McNeill’s video so you can watch the specific things that interest you.

Drill: Backscreen into One-on-One with Passer Penetration Reaction (4:53)

  • Only pass to the penetration reaction player if you get in trouble, then re-space and play.
  • Backscreen cutter must get a foot in the key before they can recover with a closeout.
  • It also engages the passer in the action.

Drill: One-on-One Crossscreen with Passer Cut Reaction (7:25)

  • Works on the crossscreen seal action and the reaction off  that action.

Drill: Sweep/Curl One-on-One Reaction (9:06)

  • Start with two lines on the baseline. The offense passes to the coach and follows their pass to get the ball back for a rip. It then becomes live one-on-one.
  • It can be built up to 4-on-4 penetration reaction reads (13:01). This is an excellent small-sided games concept.

Coach Oliver Note: The key is to get offensive players to attack the basket to score rather than to pass. I find many players treat the small-sided games initially like a drill rather than a game. This is a by-product of our drill culture in coaching. You will need to encourage players to be free and creative in their decision-making. You will also need to emphasize that the dribbler’s goal is to score.

Drill: Dribble Out Pass to Coach (21:10)

  • Two players dribble outside the three-point line on both sides of the court. The coach shows their hands to one player and that player passes to the coach. This initiates the rest of the action. Each player gets to shoot.
  • You can add defense to make it more challenging and it becomes two games of one-on-one.

Coach Oliver Note: I have taken this drill and added a player on top instead of the coach. The third player relocates after their pass. The first shooter rebounds their ball and passes to this relocating player. Now three players shoot.

Drill: Sideline Start 2-on-1 Reads (26:20)

  • This is a variation of a way to get into 2-on-1 advantage situations.
  • Some of the key teaching points for 2-on-1 reads are that if the defender’s chest is in front of you then the offensive player with the ball should pass. If the defender’s chest is not then the offensive player with the ball should attack the rim to score.
  • You can add defense to make it 3-on-3. The main rule is that the defense cannot steal the first three passes and it is live on the third catch.
  • Add any offensive sequences you use as a coach to work on your player’s execution of specific actions in your offensive system.

Coach Oliver Note: I think this drill is more effective as a 3-on-3 sequence. It seems to flow better and provide more realistic game situations. The third catch also creates an excellent zero seconds situation where the offensive player must make a quick decision on the catch. If they pause they allow the defense to recover.

Drill: 3-on-3 Closeouts (36:20)

  • Passes along the baseline into three closeouts.

Coach Oliver Note: This is a common drill which is an excellent small-sided game situation. We use it to create realistic closeout situations and in some cases to work against specific opponent actions out of a dynamic competitive drill. Practice footage of our team using this drill will soon be up on Basketball Immersion.

Drill: Toss Drill (48:40)

  • Three in a line, toss out the ball and play 2-on-1.
  • Learn to attack first.
  • Can use five players to turn it into 3-on-2.

Drill: Four into a Triangle Post Up (57:46)

  • This is a unique way to create a post passing triangle as it creates a one-on-one situation in the post with two passers.

Drill: Fullcourt 3-on-2

  • Toss the ball to an offensive player and figure it out.

My Main Takeaway

The drills use similar concepts to our basketball decision training signals. The concepts are very adaptable to your specific offensive sequences and philosophy. They do a good job of creating decision situations. Specifically, I really liked the Dribble Out Pass to Coach Drill (21:10) when it became two separate games of one-on-one. This is a good way to mix skill development with competitive decision making concepts. It also maximizes time-on-task as more players are involved more quickly in one-on-one games. It is also chaotic and ugly at times which all serves are purposes as a coach of trying to get our players to figure out the best decisions in realistic game situations.

What is your favorite decision training drill? 

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