This or That: Ideas to Makeover Your Basketball Drills

Basketball drills are an essential part of player development, but are traditional drills really the most effective way to improve skills? In a recent session at the Super Coaches Clinic, renowned basketball coach Chris Oliver shared his unique perspectives on making over basketball drills for better results. In this blog post, we’ll delve into Oliver’s key ideas and strategies for creating game-like scenarios, incorporating decision-making, and emphasizing skill elimination.

Creating Game-Like Scenarios

Oliver emphasizes the importance of making drills game-like to simulate real basketball situations. He suggests adding specific constraints to traditional drills to introduce distractions and visual stimuli. For example, instead of running a three-man weave drill, Oliver recommends incorporating game-like conditions, such as scoring within a time limit or achieving a certain number of baskets in a given time frame. By doing so, players learn to adapt and make decisions in the chaos of the game.

Avoiding On-Air Drills

Oliver discourages practicing drills without defense, commonly known as on-air drills. He believes that if a drill doesn’t involve defense, it should only serve as a warm-up or reconnection exercise. Instead, he encourages coaches to focus on drills that incorporate defensive elements, as it better prepares players for real game situations. Oliver suggests transitioning to offensive drills with one defender, which introduces distractions and requires players to execute passing and decision-making in a full-court setting.

Emphasizing Skill Elimination

One interesting concept Oliver introduces is the idea of skill elimination. He emphasizes that skill development isn’t just about adding new skills but also about eliminating unnecessary elements. By removing certain aspects from drills, coaches can create a more efficient and effective learning environment. Oliver encourages coaches to involve players in the process, allowing them to identify what can be eliminated to improve the drill’s effectiveness.

Connecting Principles of Play

Oliver stresses the importance of connecting principles of play to every aspect of training. By emphasizing principles like spacing, positioning, and decision-making, coaches can ensure that drills translate directly to game situations. This approach helps players develop a deeper understanding of how skills and decisions connect to overall gameplay.

Incorporating Mixed Drills and Perceptual Layups

To maximize skill development, Oliver advocates for mixed drills that combine dribbling and shooting as much as possible. By incorporating game-like scenarios in practice, players improve their ability to connect skills with decision-making. Additionally, Oliver introduces the concept of perceptual layups, where shooting drills involve distractions and visual stimuli to simulate real-game conditions. This approach challenges players to adapt their shooting techniques under realistic pressures.

Chris Oliver’s insights from the Super Coaches Clinic shed light on innovative approaches to basketball drill makeovers. By making drills game-like, involving defense, emphasizing skill elimination, and connecting principles of play, coaches can create more effective and efficient training environments. By incorporating these strategies into their coaching repertoire, basketball coaches can better prepare players for the chaos and challenges of real games, ultimately enhancing their skills and performance on the court.


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