Teach the Drill Before the Skill: Mastering Basketball Coaching

When it comes to developing teams and players, coaches often face the challenge of balancing drill precision and skill enhancement. The “Teach the Drill Before the Skill” approach is a game-changer that promises to redefine how coaches approach teaching. It has become one of the most valuable concepts embraced by coaches  as we have shared around the world. By focusing on the drill first, active learning increases and skill transfer is enhanced. Overall, it is a more efficient use of coaching time.

In this blog, we will share ideas to enhance drill and practice effectiveness. We’ll explore the art of maximizing player potential through a method that goes beyond the conventional. Explore the benefits of this approach and learn how to improve basketball coaching with the “Teach the Drill Before the Skill” approach.

Teach the Drill Before the Skill in Action

Imagine a scenario where you, as a basketball coach, introduce a dynamic 3-on-1 Penetration Reaction Drill. Instead of bombarding players with an extensive breakdown of individual skills right from the start, you decide to take a different route. You choose to “Teach the Drill Before the Skill.” The court transforms into a canvas. And your players embark on a journey where understanding the intricacies of the drill precedes the meticulous honing of specific skills.

In applying this approach, players first grasp the essence of the 3-on-1 Penetration Reaction Drill. The focus is on drill execution, including rotations on and off the court. This sets the stage for a seamless integration of skills that will later define success in the game.


As your players engage in the 3-on-1 Penetration Reaction Drill, the emphasis is on understanding the flow and dynamics. Without overwhelming them with an exhaustive breakdown of specific techniques and decisions, you let them experience the ebb and flow of the drill organically.

Skill Integration:

Once the players have internalized the drill, you seamlessly transition into refining the individual skills that will amplify their performance. Now, it’s time to break down the decisions and specific techniques – your principles of play and the techniques you value in your players applying those principles of play. The foundation laid by understanding the drill ensures that these techniques and skills are not isolated but deeply embedded in the context of the game.

By adopting this approach, you’ve managed to avoid the pitfalls of information overload. Instead of inundating your players with a barrage of instructions, you’ve allowed them to connect with the essence of the game, creating a solid platform for the integration of skills.

Teach the drill before the skill

Teach the Drill before the Skill: Advantages

Embracing the ‘Teach the Drill, Before the Skill’ approach is not just a coaching philosophy; it’s a transformative journey towards unlocking the full potential of your players and teams. As we delve deeper into the intricacies of this innovative concept, let’s explore the seven compelling reasons why coaches worldwide consider it an invaluable tool for honing player skills and fostering team development.

1. Maximizing Active Learning Time:

  • By initially focusing on teaching the drill, you engage players in active participation from the start. This approach minimizes downtime and keeps players mentally and physically involved, fostering a more dynamic learning environment.

2. Drill Understanding and Repetition:

  • Introducing the drill first allows players to grasp the overall concept and structure. Through repetitions of the drill, they become familiar with the movements, patterns, and teamwork required. This familiarity lays the foundation for skill development within the context of the specific drill.

3. Efficient Use of Coaching Time:

  • Separating the teaching of the drill from the skill allows you to manage coaching time more effectively. By not overwhelming players with too much information at once, you avoid potential confusion and information overload.

4. Skill Transfer to Game Performance:

  • Once players are comfortable with the drill, you can then introduce and focus on the specific techniques and skills relevant to the drill. This targeted approach ensures that the skills being taught are directly applicable to the game situation, promoting effective transfer from practice to actual gameplay.

5. Enhanced Player Connection:

  • Teaching the drill first fosters a stronger connection between the players and the strategic aspects of the game. As they understand the purpose and dynamics of each drill, they are more likely to recognize and appreciate the relevance of the skills being taught.

6. Avoiding Information Overload:

  • Simplicity in instruction is crucial for effective learning. Separating the drill and skill teaching phases prevents overwhelming players with too much information, allowing them to focus on mastering one aspect at a time.

7. Holistic Skill Development:

  • This approach promotes a holistic approach to skill development. Players not only learn individual techniques but also understand how those techniques contribute to the overall success of a play or strategy.

Here is an example of this Teach the Drill Before the Skill concept being applied to Circle 1-on-1.

The “teach the drill before the skill” approach optimizes the learning process by strategically sequencing the introduction of concepts, maximizing active participation, and ensuring that skills are not only learned but effectively applied in the context of the game. It is apparent that this approach is not just a coaching strategy; it’s a philosophy that transforms the very fabric of Basketball Immersion. 

By strategically sequencing the learning process, we empower players to master individual skills and to integrate them into a live game. The court becomes a laboratory. Understanding the drill lays the foundation for the evolution of skills, tactics, and, ultimately, victory. Embrace this paradigm shift, and witness your players not just follow drills but orchestrate a symphony of skills that resonates on the court.


Related Articles