Fun Basketball Drills That Improve Court Skills

STACK Expert Andrew Meyers offers 5 drills that give basketball players fun ways to improve their skills on the court.

It's important for basketball players to train hard and practice their skills to improve their athletic performance, but practice can still be enjoyable for them. After all, they play the game because it's fun. Basketball drills can be used to develop players' skills and technique, while at the same time providing a fun and creative experience. It's up to the coach to balance the two aspects of practice drills to help players enjoy them. Here are five fun basketball drills every coach should know.

1. Bulldog Drill

This drill helps players develop dribbling skills while running at high speed, such as on a fast break. It requires players to keep their heads up when they dribble, which is essential during a game when looking for an open teammate.

RELATED: 10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

How to Perform:

  1. The coach chooses one or two players as bulldogs, and they stand in the middle of half court.
  2. All the other players line up on the baseline.
  3. The players have 10 seconds to advance past half court while maintaining their dribble.
  4. The bulldogs try to knock the ball out of the hands of the other players while also maintaining their dribble.
  5. If a player has the ball stolen from him/her or knocked away, he or she becomes a bulldog.
  6. The game continues until only one player is left.
  7. The player who wins becomes a bulldog for the next game.

Coaching Points:

  • Keep your head up.
  • Change dribbling hands.
  • Change directions and speed.

2. Terminator Drill

This is one of my favorite fun basketball drills, because as a point guard I know how important ball handling is. Terminator helps players develop dribbling skills in tight corners, like when you are trapped or double-teamed on the baseline during a game. The drill forces players to keep their heads up and dribble with both hands, while also improving their awareness of the other players around  them.

RELATED: Team Shooting Drills for Your Next Basketball Practice

How to Perform:

  1. Form groups of 8 to 10 players.
  2. Each player starts off with a ball and must continuously dribble within a designated area (e.g., inside the 3-point line) while trying to knock away another player's ball.
  3. When a player loses control of his/her ball or goes outside the designated area, he or she is out of the drill (i.e., "terminated") and must vacate the designated area.
  4. As the number of remaining players is reduced further, coach restricts the area of play.
  5. The last player to remain dribbling the ball wins.

Coaching Points:

  • Keep your head up.
  • Change dribbling hands.
  • Strategize and pick your moments.

3. 3-Man Weave Drill

This is an excellent drill to improve ball movement and speed. It helps teams synchronize their movements and tendencies to help them "gel" on the court. The goal is to move the ball down the court as quickly as possible without letting it touch the ground. Probably every coach you have ever had has told you that a pass is quicker than a dribble.

RELATED: The Best Basketball Shooting Drills for Kids

How to Perform:

  1. Players form three lines at one end of the court, behind the baseline.
  2. The middle player starts with the ball.
  3. The rule is to pass the ball and go behind the receiver.
  4. The middle player passes the ball to the player on his/her left and then runs behind the receiver.
  5. This is repeated all the way to the other end of the court, where the player who is closest to the basket goes up for a layup. (It's better to practice going up for a layup without dribbling, since this could be useful in a real game situation.)
  6. The trailing player gets the rebound and becomes the middle player to start the 3-Man Weave back down the court, where a different player goes up for a layup.
  7. The next three players in line go next.

Coaching Points:

  • Keep your head up.
  • Make hard chest passes.
  • Make sharp, quick movements.
  • Be aware of the other players.

4. Knockout Drill

This drill helps players develop quick shooting skills, helpful when a defender closes out on you in a game. It also develops speed, quickness and shooting under pressure with heightened sense of urgency.

How to Perform:

  1. All players line up at the free-throw line.
  2. The first two in line have a ball.
  3. The first player shoots a free throw.
  4. The second player shoots a free throw.
  5. If the first player makes the free throw, he or she gets the rebound and passes it to the next player in line who shoots a free throw.
  6. If the first player misses his/her free throw, he or she must get the rebound and make a layup before the second player takes a shot.
  7. If the first player makes his/her shot before the second player, he or she goes to the back of the line and waits for another turn.
  8. If the second player makes his/her shot before the first player, the first player is knocked out and the second player goes to the back of the line and stays in the drill.
  9. Each time a player makes a shot, the next player in line shoots to try to knock the preceding player out.
  10. The drill continues until only one player remains—the winner. He or she starts the next round as the first person in line.

Coaching Points:

  • Keep your head up.
  • Maintain proper shooting form/mechanics.
  • Be aware of other players.
  • Stay confident and calm.

5. Loose Ball Drill

This drill creates a 1-on-1 competition that builds mental and physical toughness. It helps players learn to sacrifice their bodies for the team and give maximum effort on the court. It also helps to develop reaction time and quickness, which are essential skills needed for basketball.

How to Perform:

  1. Two players line up on the baseline equal distance from each other with their backs facing the open court.
  2. Standing in front of the players, coach rolls a ball out onto the open court.
  3. When coach blows the whistle, the players instantly turn and sprint to the ball.
  4. The player who reaches the ball first immediately tries to score on the other player.
  5. If the player with the ball scores, the drill is over.
  6. If the player with the ball misses or gets the ball stolen, the drill is also over.
  7. Once the drill is over, the two players go to the back of the line, and the next two players compete.

Coaching Points:

  • Be aware of the other player and the ball.
  • Focus on speed and quickness.
  • Dive and fight for the ball.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock