How to Add Decision-Making to Any Basketball Drill

Coaching U is the most comprehensive coaching program, featuring world class speakers and championship coaches from around the world. I was honored to be able to speak at Coaching U, and I wanted to share my presentation notes. As you can imagine, I don’t follow this exactly when I present but I wanted to write it up for you to stimulate your coaching, and to help you better understand how easy it is to add decision-making to drills.


  1. 3 Man Weave – This is a drill. It has no game context. Not for the reason you think, however although your players do not weave down the floor. It is because there are no decisions being made. Learn more about Why the 3-Man Weave Drill Should Be Replaced
  2. 3 Man Weave to 2-on-1 – Is this better? A little because there is a defender, but it doesn’t give any game context. The game is far messier, less predictable and more random than most drills simulate.
  3. Italian 2-on-2 – Here is a better representation of the game. Messy and filled with novel, unpredictable solutions.

Coaching U

I am grateful to be here to share the game. A huge thanks to Brendan Suhr and Coaching U for providing me this opportunity. I want to share some evidence based training ideas that have been with me for a while to help you increase your players’ enjoyment of practice and games, and to increase the retention and transfer of the skills and drills you teach to the game.

Basketball is a complex game. Every time you have the ball on offense, you have to make decisions. Every time you are off the ball on offense, you have to make decisions. The same applies to defending on the ball, and off the ball, on defense.

So what seems most important to me is decision making.

Let me give you some context. We practice using a games approach to coaching where the goal is to foster creativity and freedom from the coach. This does not mean we don’t coach our players. The format is different, but we are coaching. It seems like coaches like the control of scripted drills to ensure points are getting made. You can make the same points using a games approach. Learn more about a Games Approach to Coaching Basketball.

Think of it this way. You go to the doctor and the doctor gives you a prescription. This prescription is a solution to a problem. The doctor is choosing this one solution based on evidence that they have learned. In basketball the drill is the pill. The drill you choose is designed to give a player a solution. The problem is most drills limit a players solutions. The game forces novel solutions in an unpredictable environment, so giving players only one prescription limits their ability to play the game effectively with freedom and creativity.

Now this is not surgery. We are not doctors. We are coaching a game.

So how do I help my players develop more solutions?

Coaching U Decision-Making


  • Blocked vs. random shooting.
  • BDT is a bridge between on air and live defense.
  • BDT connects the decision and the skill together.
  • Demonstrate: Hands Up/Down, Drive/Counter, Penetration Reaction
  • A game shot is different than game like.
  • You can add BDT to any drill you do.

Basketball Decision Training is explained in more detail via this free video training: Learn How to Use Basketball Decision Training


Using a number of drills I demonstrated how easy it is to add a defender and progress the drill to live offense vs. defense.


  • It seems like the players aren’t coached because practice looks messy, and the players are making mistakes. A coach has to understand there is no perfect practice. In fact, perfect practice probably means your players aren’t getting better.


Practice should have as many features of the game as possible to allow players to retrieve information related to the game in all of your drills.

A big thanks to Brendan Suhr for providing me this opportunity to speak, and congratulations for all his success with Coaching U.

Learn more about Basketball Decision Training, and Coach Oliver’s coaching philosophy, in this Basketball Podcast with Mark Jablonski. The Basketball Podcast: E06 1-on-1 with Mark Jablonski

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