16-minute, three-lane running drill From George Haas, formerly of Carroll College, Waukesha, Wisconsin

Our staff searched high and low for a good drill to use as an effective warm-up and also to work on other key fundamentals, such as passing, footwork and proper spacing.

We eventually settled on using a tough, fast-paced 16-minute, three-lane running drill to fill our team needs. This drill serves as a great warm-up and is especially effective to use the night before a game. The drill sequence also forces the players to communicate and concentrate.

To begin the drill, divide your squad into three groups of players and form three single-file lines positioned on the baseline on one side of the court. The middle line is set up directly under the basket and the two outside lines are set up on each side of the basket, between the sideline and 3-point circle. The middle line in each group is holding a ball.

Place 16 minutes on the clock. The drill is divided into nine segments and each segment must be completed within the allotted 16-minute timeframe. The clock starts when the middle player yells “Go!” to begin the drill.

Nine segments

Segment 1: On the “go” command, the first player in each line sprints hard toward the opposite end of the floor. The player in the middle, with the ball, speed dribbles. As a group of three players reach the half-court line, the next group of three players begins its trip downcourt.

As the group reaches the free-throw line on the other end of the court, the middle player hits the player on the right with a good bounce pass for a layup. The player on the left secures the ball as it comes through the net (or rebounds the miss). The rotation after each made shot is as follows:

  • The middle player follows the pass and gets into that lane.
  • The player who made the layup goes to the opposite side’s lane.
  • The rebounder becomes the middle player.

To finish Segment 1, each group of three players makes three trips down the full length of the court. With the rotation pattern, this ensures that each player in the group gets to be a passer, a scorer and a rebounder one time.

Segment 2: The players run downcourt in the same manner as in Segment 1, only this time, the pass and layup go to the left side. The players follow the same rotation pattern where the passer follows the pass, the scorer goes opposite and the rebounder becomes the middle player.

Each group must complete three trips to finish Segment 2. After Segment 2, you’ve now had six complete trips the full length of the court.

Segment 3: The group sprints straight and finishes with a fast-break jump shot off the glass on the right side (emphasize that the shot must be a bank shot so that the players run the court properly). Follow the same rotation pattern and complete three trips to end the segment.

Segment 4: There is an emphasis on passing and footwork in this segment. The players sprint straight downcourt and when the middle player reaches the foul line, he or she must jump stop and pass to the player in the left lane, who has stopped somewhere near the 3-point arc or the free-throw-line extended.

The middle player follows the pass by stepping to the ball-side elbow and receives a return pass from the left-wing player. The player on the right-hand side sprints all the way to the baseline and touches it with his or her right foot and comes back toward the passer. The passer delivers a pass and the player on the right shoots a rhythm jump shot.

Emphasize that the passer must “put it in the receiver’s mouth” as an aiming point for the pass. This reinforces the act of reading a teammate who is coming open after moving off a screen. Three completed trips end the segment.

Segment 5: Perform the same movements as in Segment 4, only reverse it to the left. Three trips end the segment.

Segment 6: Three-player, full-court weave that finishes with a right-handed layup. Three trips end the segment.

Segment 7: Three-player, full-court weave that finishes with a left-handed layup. Three trips end the segment.

Segment 8: Three-player weave that turns into a 2-on-1 fast break going the other way with the last passer going back on defense. Three trips end the segment.

Segment 9: This is the last segment and you work the famous “3-on-2 to 2-on-1 drill.” We pick up with defense, let the defenders work the offensive players to half-court and then let them attack the defensive player 2-on-1. Unless a defender steals it, they can attack for a shot.

There are no three-trip restrictions to Segment 9. The players continue running Segment 9 until the 16-minute time limit expires.

Get to the ‘fun’ part

One of the main keys to making this drill productive is the running clock. Players want to get to the fun part of the drill (the 3-on-2 to 2-on-1 games in Segment 9) as soon as possible and they will run extremely hard to get the other segments completed. If the players hustle, they may get into Segment 9 with 2 or 3 minutes left on the clock.

This drill sequence has been an excellent way to review fundamentals and get players enthused about practice. We add five bonus seconds to the 16-minute clock during the three-player straight and three-player weave segments if they dunk the layup.