Four drills to reinforce ball control From Shelly Jones, contributing writer

The only way players learn to maintain ball control during a game is to run drills at full speed during practice. Each of the following four drills must be done at a game-level intensity.

When run at a fast speed and with quick substitution of other players, the entire team gets a workout with these drills.

Wasp Drill

One player is the “Wasp.” Standing between the 3-point line and the mid-court line facing the near baseline, the “wasp” starts dribbling.

Standing on the near baseline, every other member of your team has a ball and gets ready to dribble. On the coach’s command, the players on the baseline begin dribbling toward the other end of the floor.

The wasp, while keeping his or her dribble, chases down and tags as many players as possible. Once a player is tagged, that person must stop where he or she was tagged. The tagged person is only allowed to pivot on one foot and try to tag other players as they run by. As players make it to the baseline without being tagged, they continue the dribble back to the other baseline.

This continues until there is only one person left who hasn’t been tagged. Let this player get water first or give out some kind of reward. A variation is to only have the wasp dribble, while everyone else runs baseline to baseline.

Lead The Dog

Diagram 1

This fast-breaking drill gets players’ hearts pumping. It also works players’ passing skills and gets them to knock down layups on the run.

DIAGRAM 1: Lead The Dog. Set up three lines on the baseline. 1 has a ball and passes back-and-forth with 2 as they move down the court. 3 sprints down the floor and receives a pass from 1 or 2 when 3 is ready for an in-stride layup.

After taking the layup, 3 continues to the outside. 2 rebounds, and 1 clears out to the opposite side of 3. 1 and 2 play catch down the court until 3 is ready to take a layup in stride. As soon as 3 takes the layup at the original end, three new players continue the drill.

Attack The Pack

This drill gives your players a full-court press test.

Diagram 2DIAGRAM 2: Attack The Pack. Section off the floor into four areas. Level 1 is from the baseline to the free-throw line extended. Level 2 is from the free-throw line extended to midcourt. Set Level 3 from from midcourt to the opposite free-throw line extended. Level 4 is from the free-throw line extended to the baseline.

Two defenders occupy each sectioned-off area. There will be two offensive players with one inbounding to the other. The defenders trap the ball when it comes into their area, while the offensive players attempt to get through each level without losing the ball. If the offense turns over the ball, they start again at Level 1.

If the offense makes it through all four levels and scores, the defenders all move up one level. The two defensive players in Level 1 become the two new offensive players. If there are extra players, they should be waiting behind Level 4 to jump in when the defenders move up a spot.

The drill ends when each group has had a turn on offense. With 14 players, try to finish the drill in less than 6 minutes.

95-75 Drill

Diagram 3

There’s no time to relax during the 95-75 drill. You’re looking to attempt 95 shots and make 75 in just 3 minutes, while players are running a three-player weave up and down the court.

DIAGRAM 3: 95-75 (1st Half). Players line up in three lines under the basket on the baseline. Player 1 has a ball, while the group behind players 2 and 3 also has a ball.

Send two players to the other end of the court. They both stand on the baseline with basketballs.

1, 2 and 3 run the three-player weave the length of the court. The player that shoots the layup at the other end of the court (player 2 in this instance) grabs the ball and starts a new three-player weave back down the floor with players 4 and 5. The players who didn’t shoot the layup (1 and 3) wait on the wings for a pass from 4 and 5. After receiving the pass, 1 and 3 shoot jumpers, rebound their own shot, and take the position of 4 and 5 on the baseline.

DIAGRAM 4: 95-75 (2nd Half). The original 4 and 5 players run the three-player weave back to the other end of the court with player 1. One player takes the layup (player 4 in this instance), and the other two (2 and 5) settle in for jump shots. As soon as the shots go up, the waiting players on the baseline continue the drill.

Diagram 4

In 3 minutes, your team should get 95 shots at the basket (including the layups and jumpers) and the team should make 75 of those attempts.

These four drills do a great job at helping your players develop sound ball control, leading to fewer turnovers in games.