Team Workout #2

This entry is part 20 of 20 in the series Practice
MESSAGE OF THE DAY Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.
Emphasis of the Day Doing it Wrong vs. Failing
  Dynamic Warm Up Player led warmup
2 Dribble At Dribble 2 on 0 one dribble at and layup
4 Fast Break Drill Be better than we were yesterday (Right side)
2 Ball Handling Player leads: 2 balls stationary
4 Post Slides Dribble 2 on 0 with two attacks
4 Drive and Kick Dribble 2 on 0  one attack
3 1 on 1 w/ shooter Dribble 2 on 0 with on ball defense. Defend and box out (3 dribbles max)
4 2 on 2 Dribble 2 on 0 with 2 defenders. Start at half court with  dribble (5 dribble max)
2 Ball Handling Player Leads: 1 ball motion
3 5 on 0 Teach Baseline drive
4 3 on 0 Ball on Wing  drive either way
4 3 on 3 Ball on Wing (must start with dribble)
4 Fast Break Drill Be better than we were before (Left Side)
2 Ball Handling Player Leads: 2 balls motion
5 Dribble Test 5 on 0 (3 attacks or dribble at)
3 1 on 1 w/ shooter Dribble 2 on 0 from different spots
5 3 on 3 ball starts at top must start with dribble
4 FTs 1 and 1  must make 75%

Everyone was better today. It’s not surprising. The second day of doing something new is always better than the first day. Our attacks were better. Our rotations were better. The defense was better. Our passing was better. We need to improve our shooting, but that will come with time. Our team works really hard. Lesson learned is that we should have done 2 on 2 on the first day. I don’t know why I didn’t practice what I preach, but even I can learn. I will do it better next time.We improved from day 1.

32 Split Low

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series 5 player Combinations

32 Split Low is the next call that we will explore.

“32” specifies a 3 out 2 in alignment.

“Split” specifies that the post players must be opposite of one another at all times.

“Low” specifies that the ball side post player should be in the low post.

***Side note: Remember the post spots are the Short Corner, Mid Post and Elbow. While the short corner is “lower” than the mid post, I’m referring to the mid post.

Remember these diagrams are not actions that are set in stone.  These are just possibilities. Your players will come up with more if you let them. I had fun with this one. I would like to see what other people come up with.


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The point passes to the wing. Boring right? You’re right it is, but I had to start somewhere. The screen for 2 from 4 is optional because 2 can just fill, but while 4 is there, they can make themselves useful. This could turn into a back screen or fade screen as well. For now we will keep it simple and have 2 fill the top spot while 1 fills out to the opposite side. Later, you’ll see what happens when this player fills to the ball side.








Page 637Of course, 5 is posting up and looking for the ball. If 1’s defender stops in help, like they are probably taught, 5 may not be open. That’s ok, because 1’s defender just set themselves up to get screened. If 1’s defender follows them out of the lane then 5 should be open for a post entry.  Of course if 4’s defender is helping off on the post then they should be open in the high post.

In this situation, let’s just say 1’s defender is in help side on 5. 4 can pin in 1’s defender. 1 lines up with 4 and 3 throws the skip pass. 2 cuts because they were skipped. In this case, they fill to the ball side. Since 5 is now opposite the ball, they fill the high post while 4 fills the low post.

4 may not be able to receive a pass off of a seal from the pin screen, but 4’s defender is going to have to make a choice.  Little do they know that behind them the other post player is moving to the high post and taking away help side defense.  3 is filling the top spot which brings the last help side defender 1 pass away. If 4’s defender plays behind, we should be able to get 4 the ball. If not, the lob should be available.



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If you’re Phil Jackson, this might look familiar. There’s a strong side triangle on the left side of the floor. We could have had this alignment on the first pass if 1 had cut to the ball side corner. Of course there are dozens of actions in the triangle that start from this alignment.

For the sake of continuing the offense, let’s say 4’s defender plays behind and we’re able to get the ball to 4.  1’s responsibility is to Laker Cut. Now they could Laker Cut and screen for 2, 3, or 5, but for now we’ll say they just fill out. Notice how turning the Laker Cut into an X-cut or into a back screen as a NBA would make things interesting.

Again 1’s defender should stay in help, which sets them up for a nice little pin screen from 5. 2 fills up from the corner. Of course 5 may be open on a dive to the basket, but that probably turns into a lay-up so let’s keep going.



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Notice if 4 puts the ball on the floor to the baseline side, 1 would fill the corner spot following the Baseline Drive principles.  If 4 drove middle, everyone would circle move. The question might be what about 5. I would encourage them to circle move to the right and be available around the low post/short corner.

However, 4 doesn’t feel comfortable trying to score or put the ball on the floor so they decide to kick it out to 2. They could kick it to 1 or 3 as well. The best option is the open option, and for now we’re going to say 2 is the open player.

4 could repost.  They could sprint into a ball screen, but in this diagram they screen away for the other post player. 5 knows their job is to go low since they are on the ball side.  4 has to stay high.  Notice we look a lot like we did in the second diagram.



Page 640This time instead of a skip pass, 2 passes to the top to 3 and cuts to the basket.  5 steps up and back screens 2’s defender on the cut. As 2 exits the lane, 4 back screens 1’s defender as 1 cuts to the basket.  Then 5 sets the second screen for 1 to either flare to the wing or curl to the lane. You might be thinking, there’s no way I could get my players to do all this.

I say, why not? Let’s keep moving. I will address that in a minute.










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1 and 2 have basically switched sides of the court. However, these actions were not predicated. Who knows what kind of match-ups we have right now. It’s quite possible that the defenders have switched at some point along the way or that a defender has gotten themselves out of position.  However, let’s say they’ve played great defense on actions that they couldn’t foresee, because our own players aren’t following a prescribed set of actions.

Now 3 decides to dribble-at 1 for a dribble handoff. 2 fills just as they would if it were a dribble-at.  4 and 5 wait patiently and prepare for the next action.






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As 1 turns the corner, 2 circle moves while 4 and 5 slide away from the penetrator to either open up the lane or open up themselves.








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Now 1 has a decision to make. Does the action have to stop on this penetration?  Of course not. 1 might dribble back to the top of the key and pass to a wing.  They might kick out to 2 who makes an entry pass to 4 and Laker Cuts.  The action could continue as long as the clock is running and the offense doesn’t give up possession of the ball by either shooting it or turning it over.

The point here is that this is just one combination of actions that are based on this one alignment.  Yet, the action could look very different at any number of points along the way. In each frame of the action, the ball handler could have chosen any number of different actions to take with the ball. Then as a cutter, what they do when they cut changes things. Even which side of the court a player decides to fill makes things different as well.





This may seem complicated. Remember all the players are doing is executing one simple action and then reacting accordingly. They don’t need to know what action to execute next. They just need to focus on executing the next one correctly. The action of the post players is not predicated either. Remember they have two rules to follow in this case.  The first is that when the ball is driven towards the basket to move out of the way.  The second is based on the call that we made at the beginning, “32 Split Low”.

You might wonder how post players know when to set these screens. You’re right, there are no rules, but they can be taught. These screens aren’t being set by them going way out of their way.  All of them “make sense” based on their location and the cutter’s movement. All they really need to do is see the cutter coming prepare for the contact. The cutter just needs to use the post players as they cut off of them.

The good news is that the offense doesn’t break if someone forgets to set a screen. Maybe a post player is busy posting up instead of screening.  Well this can be just as effective. Maybe they decide to set another kind of screen somewhere along the line. That’s good too. This single possibility has a number of others built into it. The way I see it there are no wrong answers as long as players remain spaced, move themselves with a purpose, and move the ball with a purpose, including attacking the lane off the dribble.

5 on 5 Attack

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series 5 player Combinations

5 on 5 attack

We want our teams to play aggressively.  We want them to look to attack gaps in the defense.  We want them to get in the lane.  We want to them to draw help defenders.  We want them to get fouled.  We want them to take shots in and around the lane.

However, we want them to do this intelligently.  We want them to take good shots. We don’t want them getting in the lane and just throwing it up and hoping it goes in. We want them making effective straight line attacks.  We want them making good decisions and good passes when defense helps.  We want them to take advantage of situations.  We never want to pass up on a good situation to put the defense at a disadvantage.

We also want to put an emphasis on defending the ball.  We want to teach how to help, when to help, and when not to help.  We want to teach rotations and recoveries.  Here’s a drill that you might find useful to teach all these different things.

I would recommend running this drill 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 and build it up to 5 on 5.  This drill is best run with everyone on the perimeter.  It could be run with permanent post players though I think this is less than optimal.  The defense in these diagrams is based on helping on the ball from 1 pass away.  If your help defense concepts state that you don’t help 1 pass away, then the defense would look different, which would in turn make the offense look different.  It doesn’t matter what you teach, the drill will still challenge your players on both sides of the ball.

Here’s how it works.  The player with the ball only has two options.  They can shoot or attack.  If the first ball handler has an open shot, then your defense isn’t very good.  The only option that the first player should have is to attack.  The defense knows they are going to attack.  The question is can they make a good enough 1 on 1 move to get into the lane or make the defense help.  If the ball handler can score off the dribble, they should, but let’s assume for a second that your defense is good enough to stop the first drive. The other offensive players should be following their circle movement rules.  If the defense can stop the drive without help. They win the possession.  But again for the sake of argument, let’s assume that a defender helps.  The ball handler would kick out to the open player.  This player has a choice, shoot or drive.  That’s it.  If they don’t shoot then the first ball handler and their defender are off the court and the drill continues until it’s 1 on 1. Can you get a stop for your team when you’re on an island and tired?

If at any point a player shoots, it turns into a rebounding drill with the players that are on the court.  You can score the drill in a few different ways.  You can count the times the offense gets two feet in the lane.  You can count how many times they score.  You can count how many offensive rebounds they get.  You can count defensive stops.  You can count steals, defensive rebounds, good close-outs, good rotations, times that help was not necessary, and any number of other things.

If you want to challenge the defense more, you could have all of the defensive players on the baseline.  You can throw the ball to a random player which forces them to identify their proper defensive positions on the fly, closeout and defend.  Remember offensive players without the ball will need to execute circle movement, as well as the baseline drive adjustment and post slides.

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Send me your comments, questions, thoughts….

Posting Up (3 player combinations w/ Read Line)

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series 3 player Combinations

Here are some 3 player combinations that show someone posting up after a Read Line cut. Notice that in all of these diagrams the ball handler could have filled the open spot with a dribble.  This would have been the same as a Dribble-At, which was diagrammed in an earlier post.   As a result, I wanted to show something a little different.  A fourth perimeter player on the court would open up a lot more possibilities for the ball handler.  Those diagrams are coming next.  These will also be shown from a 4 out alignment, which will look a little different from the diagrams that I’ve been showing.

Again you’re probably going to notice a lot of obvious screening opportunities.  Keep in mind there are only 3 players on the court.  When the fourth and fifth players are added, there will be even more opportunities.  At this point if players want to start taking advantage of these “obvious” opportunities, that’s great.

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Posting Up (3 player combinations)

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series 3 player Combinations

Below are 9 different 3 player combinations that have a player posting up after executing an action for one action. There are more on the way.  The next set of combinations will have Read Line cuts included.  You’ll notice that all of these posting opportunities are in the mid post.  I will also draw up some high post and stretch options.

You’ll notice in some of these diagrams that there are some obvious screening opportunities. When the post is shown in some of the other locations, we’re going to run across even more good screening opportunities.We’re getting so close to setting screens.

After the next couple sets of 3 player diagrams, we’ll look at some 4 player and 5 player scenarios with a permanent post player.  If you’re playing 5 out, posting up is pretty straightforward.  The cutter doesn’t have very many decisions to make.  They can post up anywhere they want.  In a 4 out 1 in alignment, they have to be cognizant of where this permanent post player is located.

Of  course the rules that you establish for your permanent post player will affect the decisions of your “temporary” post players. We’re going to start looking at that this week.  I hope this stuff is helpful.  If I need to provide more explanation for a specific diagram let me know.


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2 offensive players (Laker Cut, Attack Dribble)

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series 2 player combinations


A player on the wing passes to a post player and makes a Laker cut.  That player then fills out to the perimeter.  What happens if 5 faces the basket and drives baseline? It’s no different from a perimeter player driving baseline. We have to fill our windows.

The cutter must be aware of the action of the ball.  If the help defender stops around the lane as the cutter fills out, there’s a good chance that this cutter will be open in the corner. A post player with the ball is going to get lots of attention.  They can be taught to find the player in the corner as well as other perimeter players who might be open.
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2 offensive players (Attack Dribble, Attack Dribble)

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series 2 player combinations

The following diagrams show how two players can combine two attack dribble actions back to back in 4 different ways.  In short, it shows the 4 possible combinations of players using the attack dribble to their right and to their left.

A number of different skills can be taught as a part of this building block.  Ball handling, 1 on 1 moves, passing, post slides, circle movement, shooting, finishing, pivoting, and spacing are all possibilities on the offensive side of the ball.  Of course if you put defense on the court, there are many other possibilities as well.

Keep in mind there are a number of other combinations as well with different players at different spots, but these building blocks teach players how to be aggressive with the ball as well as show them their different options when they are aggressive.  Placing defenders on the court forces them to learn how to defend a ball handler who wants to use their attack dribble.  It’s important in these situations to make the defenders be aggressive so they can learn how to keep a ball handler in front of them.

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