Fun Basketball Practice Drills that Make Players Want to Work Hard 

basketball practice drills

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Basketball practice drills don't have to be boring!

The best way to avoid the dread of workout is to include fun drills and shooting games in your practice plans. There's not a better way to build offensive and defensive skills than by putting kids in competitive situations where they learn to react, make decisions, and perform when the pressure is on.

These dynamic drills give players a chance to test their skills in a variety of team and individual contests. And they're also excellent basketball conditioning drills.

After the basic offensive and defensive basics are taught, the best way for players to learn is to go live in controlled game-like situations.

I've used the following drills with my young kids and college players. They love them because they're competitive, challenging, and fun. It's amazing how much harder players will work if the workout drills take the form of team games.

Give some of these basketball practice drills a try and see if they don't make your basketball workouts a bit more exciting and intense!

5 Competitive basketball practice drills

Kids vs. Coach

Continuous Knockout

Individual Shooting Contests

Roll & Go

3-on-2, 2-on-1

Basketball Practice Drills
Kids vs. Coach

This drill gives players a chance to work on their offensive skills in a structured environment dictated by coach.

  • Players line up at top of key with ball.
  • Coach starts in the key on defense.
  • Coach chooses how aggressive to play, what openings to give offensive player, and what to take away.
  • Coach determines by her actions what skills ball handler and offensive players will use.
  • Start with 1 offensive player going 1-on-1 against coach. Play until coach gets the ball or offense scores.
  • After each player has a few turns, have 2 kids play together to go 2-on-1.
  • Then bring out 3 kids at a time to go 3-on-1. With 3 players, they have a chance to work on their basketball cuts and screening for teammates.
  • This is a great way for coach to help players develop their decision-making skills and their ability to read the defense by taking different options away each time.


Basketball Practice Drills
Continuous Knockout

This is a spin-off of a favorite kid's basketball shooting game. Unlike traditional Knockout, this version allows players to stay in the game, so no one is standing around.

  • Use 3-4 baskets, if you have them available, and have players split up evenly at each basket.
  • Players line up in a single file line behind free throw line.
  • First 2 players in each line have a basketball.
  • There are always 2 players shooting against each other.
  • The goal is for the second shooter to make a basket before the first shooter. If that happens, first player is "knocked out."
  • First shot each shooter takes must be from the free throw line (adjust distance as necessary for your players), but every shot after that can be from anywhere on the court.

Here's how the game works

  • First player in line takes a shot from the free throw line. If it goes in, she gets her rebound, passes the ball to the next person in line, and goes to the end of the line.
  • As soon as first player shoots her first shot, the second player in line shoots:
  1. If the first player misses, both players keep shooting until someone makes a basket. 
  2. If the second shooter sinks it before the first shooter, the first shooter is out.
  3. If the first shooter makes it, she passes the ball to the next person in line who then shoots and tries to make it before the second shooter. 
  • Play continues non-stop until there is only 1 player left.
  • To make the game continuous, have the player that gets knocked out rotate to the end of the line at the next basket. This allows players to compete against different shooters, and it also keeps players from having to sit out.
  • Play for as long as you want. At the end of the time period, the players who never rotated to another basket are the winners. Maybe they can have an ultimate shoot off.

Basketball Practice Drills
Individual Shooting Contests

The sky's the limit to the different types of shooting contests you can come up with. I like to have shooting games for kids that use all of the baskets I have available. 

  • Players spread out evenly between baskets.
  • At the signal, each player shoots at their basket until they score. Once they score, they dribble to every other basket and shoot until they score at each one.
  • The chaos of the drill with lots of flying balls and moving bodies forces players to concentrate on their shots and maintain body and ball control.
  • When they've scored at each goal, they dribble to center court. 
  • The first 4 players to reach coach at center court are the winners.
  • Adjust the drill to accommodate your situation. For younger kids, limit the number of players at each goal to prevent injury.

Variations

  • Match up winners and losers for further rounds of competition until you have one champ
  • Designate specific shooting spots 
  • Vary number of shots players need to make at each basket
  • Have players perform some type of basketball move before shooting

Basketball Practice Drills
Roll & Go

This is a great drill for working on man-to-man defense and offensive moves. It's a live 1-on-1 half-court game.

  • Players form two lines.
  • One line forms out of bounds underneath the basket to play defense.
  • Second line forms at top of key to play offense.
  • Drill starts with first player under the basket with a ball. Defender rolls ball out to first player in offensive line at top of key.
  • After rolling ball, defender hustles out to play good on-the-ball defense.
  • Play continues 1-on-1 until offense scores, ball goes out of bounds, or defense gets ball.
  • Players go to end of opposite line, and play resumes with the next person in each line.
  • Keep a running score for both teams and play for a pre-determined amount of time or until one team reaches a certain number of points.
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Basketball Practice Drills
3-on-2, 2-on-1

My players both young and old love this drill! It's like a full-court game, but everyone gets involved in the action since there are no more than 3 players per team on the court at a time.

  • To keep it simple, I split the players into 2 groups. Each group lines up on opposite baselines.
  • Designate one group to be Offense that will send 3 players at a time out on the floor. 
  • Designate the other group to be Defense that will send 2 players out at a time.
  • To start, have 3 players from the offensive team come out on the floor and line up facing one basket while 2 defensive players set up at the opposite end of the court.
  • Coach starts the action by tossing the ball off the backboard for the Offense. Players rebound it, make an outlet pass, and take it to the opposite end to go 3-on-2 against 2 defenders who are waiting.
  • Play continues until the offense scores or the defense gets the ball. 
  • If the defense gets it, they bring it down the court and play 2-on-1 against the shooter who hustles back to play defense. They play until a score or the defender gets the ball.
  • Bring the next 3 offensive players and next 2 defenders out on the court and go again. 
  • After a certain period of time, have the teams switch from Offense to Defense. 
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