July 6, 2017 • DrillsOffenseWinning Hoops

Don Meyer’s shooting games and free-throw drills

DonMeyer1Don Meyer, the NCAA’s winningest all-time men’s basketball coach, loved to keep his practices simple in nature. He shared his favorite six shooting competitions (with six free-throw-shooting games to follow) that he used at practices to help develop the sharp-shooters needed for his high-powered offense.

1, 2, 3 shooting to 21

Players begin at the 3-point line (or closer for younger athletes).

One point is awarded when a player executes a shot fake, makes a straight-line dribble while keeping the head up on the target, and finishes with one dribble to the rim while chinning the ball and making a clean layup.

Two points are awarded when the player executes a shot fake, then moves in any direction with one dribble, takes the shot and follows through (two points for a made basket).

Three points are awarded for a made 3-pointer and an extra point is given for a swish.

The first player to 21 points wins and this game can be run with one, two, three or four players at a time.

Five-point countdown 

Players start with a score of five. A made shot increases the total by one, and a miss decreases the total by one. Once a player’s total falls to zero, that player is out.

Make 25, don’t miss two in a row

These rules are simple: Make 25 shots without missing two in a row. If the player misses two in a row, he or she is out of the game. However, give the player missing two in a row another shot and, if it swishes, that player is still alive.

Four up 

Players form two teams at each free-throw-line elbow. Keep track of made shots, and a team wins when they have made four more shots than the other team.

Beat Steve Nash 

Start this game with a free throw, and award a point for a make or subtract three for a miss. Then, players shoot a determined number of jump shots and layups (depending on the age level) with a point awarded for a make and two subtracted for a miss. The first player to reach the score of 10 wins.

Two balls, three closers out 

There is one shooter, one passer and three defenders. The passer feeds the shooter and the defenders run out, jump and try to block the 3-point shot. The passer needs to use ball fakes, dribble follows, etc., to incorporate game elements into the drill.

If a shot is blocked, the shooter needs to use a shot fake and one dribble to take a pull-up jumper. The shooter then moves back to shooting 3-pointers until another shot is blocked.

Free-throw-shooting games

Instead of just shooting 10 free throws at the beginning and end of practice, try Don Meyer’s take on making free-throw competitions fun, exciting and competitive for your players. He incorporates six different free-throw games into his practices.

1. Plus 2, minus 2. A swish is worth one point, a make with the rim is worth nothing and a miss subtracts a point. Once a player has a +2 score, then that player tries to make as many in a row as he or she can. If a player reaches -2, he or she must swish the next free throw to stay alive.

2. Make 16 free throws in six minutes. The player shoots a 1-and-1. If the first shot is missed, the player does a dribble suicide with the weak hand. If the second then is missed, the player dribbles down the court and back twice. If the player makes both, then he or she dribbles down the court and back once. The goal is for the player to make 16 free throws in six minutes, which isn’t easy considering all of the extra conditioning.

3. Team encouragement free throws. A player shoots a free throw and if it’s missed, the player runs. If the teammates don’t encourage the shooter, then everyone runs.

4. Free throws to win. Set a hypothetical score, for instance, you are down 64-60. Every player on your team shoots one free throw. A miss is worth one point to your total while a miss increases the hypothetical opponent’s score by two points.

5. Scrimmages. The poorest free-throw shooters take all the free throws during your scrimmage. Also, if a player is subbed out, then he or she must make six free throws in a row at a side basket to earn the right to come back into the scrimmage.

6. Three in a row — five minutes (make 66). Three players are stationed at a basket. The first player tries to make three in a row. If the player misses any of the three, the players rotate and the next in line tries. Once a player makes three in a row, that player yells his or her name to the coach who records it. The next player in line tries again. The goal is for the entire team to get 66 three-makes-in-a-row during a five-minute stretch.