Pre-practice routines to fire up your players From David A. Duncan, formerly of Spring Hill High School, Longview, Texas

In the pre-practice segment of our practices we cover a wide variety of fundamentals. This routine has been successful in helping develop the basic skills of the players in our program and it gets them ready to participate in a hard-nosed competitive practice.

Pre-practice routine: Part 1

The activities in the first part of the pre-practice routine should take about 20 minutes.

1. Stretching. It’s important that players properly stretch before every practice. Put together a basic stretching program that fits the needs of your players.

2. Ball Handling. Have your players perform the following ball-handling skills work to develop speed and control of the basketball: ball slaps fingertips exercises figure-8 handling between the legs right- and left-hand only dribbling crossovers figure-8 dribbling between the legs and spider dribble. You’ll want to occasionally mix in new ball-handling drills as the season progresses to keep this segment fresh.

3. Jump-Rope Work. Have your players perform basic jump-rope work timed in 30-second intervals.

Pre-Practice Routine: Part 2

This segment of the pre-practice routine works on passing and full-court dribbling work.

Passing. Start this segment of the routine with pressure passing (keep-away drills) and mix in different types of passing drills such as side-center-side drills and 3- or 5-player weaves.

The last two passing drills should be run full court and with the stipulation that the ball must be advanced up and down the floor without touching the ground at any time.

Full-Court Dribbling. For this segment have your players work on dribbling skills and moves in a full-court setting. Each move must be done three or four times per trip downcourt: figure-8’s while walking right- and left-hand only dribbling right-hand hesitation dribbles left-hand hesitation dribbles crossovers reverse pivot etc.

Pre-Practice Routine: Part 3

This part of pre-practice focuses on shooting. Several variations of this segment can mix things up and keep pre-practice fresh.

Players must go hard during all phases of this drill.

Shooting Stations Series. Set up a shooting station at each basket on your gym floor. Divide your players into workout groups assigned by the coaching staff. Each group rotates through six shooting stations such as right-hand layups left-hand layups 3-point partner shooting free throws elbow shooting and short-corner shots.

Each group of players rotate stations every two minutes.

Mikan Series. The players remain in the same shooting groups as they were in the stations series. Each shooting drill in this series should last no more than 30 seconds.

1. Modified Mikan Drill. Players go from side to side shooting the ball. This is a modified Mikan drill with the players jumping off both feet.

2. Power Layup Touch-The-Foul-Line Drill. Players must shoot a power layup then run and touch the free-throw line between each shot. A rebounder can be present under the basket to keep the ball around the hoop and make sure it doesn’t roll away but no passes are to be made to the shooter.

3. Full-Speed Layups. Next have the players start at the free-throw line and sprint to the basket finishing with a layup. Each player must make as many layups as possible in 30 seconds.

4. Elbow Shooting Drill. Have your players shoot shots from both elbows as quickly as possible. Rebounders must be present and should have more than one ball in order to keep the passes rapidly going to the shooters.

25-Shots Series. Start this drill with groups of two players at a basket and with one ball per group with each player taking five shots per turn. On the fifth shot the shooter rebounds and starts passing to his or her partner.

The first five shots are jump shots. On the next five shots have your players use a “show-and-go” move ending with jump shot. On the third set of five shots have the shooters execute a jab step followed by a jump shot. In the fourth round of shooting have the players shoot 3-pointers. Finally in the last five shots the players must mix up all the moves. Players must not shoot the same shot twice in a row from the same spot.

This drill should take about 3 minutes to have each pair of players take all 25 shots.