‘Rule-of-Five’ practice plan builds rock-solid fundamentals From Brandon Anderson, former boys varsity assistant coach, Corbin High School, Kentucky

As coaches, we are often guilty of teaching too many aspects of the game at one time. Moreover, sometimes we do not spend enough time breaking down the game and practicing the fundamentals. As a result, our players and teams often become mediocre or even below average in certain areas. Therefore, we are only able to consistently beat the sub-par teams and pull off an occasional upset.

There is, however, a remedy for this problem called “The Rule of Five.” One of the greatest football coaches of all time, Bobby Bowden, took these same rules and built a college football dynasty. Even though this concept was initiated by a football coach, the philosophy translates smoothly to basketball.

Bowden said that you should simply pick out five fundamentals of the game that you want to stress and teach. Next, select five drills that emphasize each fundamental, and then do these drills five days a week. This 5-5-5 concept makes up the “Rule-of-Five” philosophy.

Regardless of past success, it’s critical that you objectively analyze your team’s weaknesses. Are you a poor passing, shooting, ball handling, rebounding or defensive team? If so, how many drills do you routinely use in practice to improve on these fundamental weaknesses? After serious study, you may realize that not enough time is being spent on these fundamental areas.

Planning the ‘Rule of Five’

The following is a sample format for the “Rule of Five.” You may choose different fundamentals or different drills depending on your particular team’s needs. The concept remains the same — five fundamentals (shooting, ball handling, man-to-man defensive principles, passing and rebounding), covered in five drills and done over five days.

Fundamental No. 1: Shooting

1. Arch-check from behind the shooter.

2. Form shooting (backspin check with one hand).

3. Mikan drills (normal and reverse).

4. ‘X-Out Line shooting.’ Divide your players into two single-file lines out of bounds and under the basket. The first player in the line without the ball breaks from the right block to the left block. The first player in the left line passes the ball to him or her and breaks around the shooter to the other block for the pass from the next player in line. The shooters pivot on the inside foot, square up to the basket and bank in a jumper from the block. After shooting, the players rebound their own shot, give the ball to the next player in line and switch lines. The drill can be extended to be run at the elbows or even to the 3-point line.

5. Competitive partner shooting drills (first player to make 10 shots).

Fundamental No. 2: Ball handling

1. Stationary ball-handling series.

2. Two-ball stationary-dribble series.

3. Two-ball dribble series.

4. 1-on-1 dribble moves.

5. Combination dribble moves.

Fundamental No. 3: Man-to-man defensive principles

1. Stance-and-slide drills (various).

2. Wing denials.

3. Post-defense position drills.

4. Shell drill.

5. Zig-zag drill with defense.

Fundamental No. 4: Passing

1. Partner passing (chest, bounce, overhead, hook, baseball).

2. ‘Man-in-the-middle’ drill.

3. Three- and five-player weave.

4. Corner passing, star passing drill (alternate daily).

5. Cowen’s passing drill. Divide your players into groups of four and set each group at a basket. Each group has three balls. The group forms a diamond formation 12- to15-feet apart with a player at the top of the key (holding a ball), one at the right wing (holding a ball), one on the left wing (holding a ball) and one player under the basket. The player at the top of the key always passes the ball to the player under the basket. The players on the wings alternate passing the ball to the top of the key. The player under the basket must catch the ball then pass to the right wing and the next time pass left to the wing.

Fundamental No. 5: Rebounding

1. Tip drills (right, left, both, alternate).

2. Power put-back drill.

3. 1-on-1 box-outs with outlet passes.

4. “Meat-Grinder” drill.

5. Circle box-outs. In this tough rebounding drill, divide your team into groups of three and line them up above the foul line and facing the basket. The coach throws up a bad shot and the three players battle for the rebound and score. The first player with two baskets gets out of the drill. The remaining players return to the end of the line and repeat the drill. The next group of three players step in to run the drill. There are no fouls called and players are encouraged to be aggressive and physical throughout the duration of the drill.