Month: September 2017

Send Me Your Questions 9-30-2017

Saturdays are typically reserved for me to request our readers to send me their questions.


Please take a moment and think about any questions that you might want answered by me regarding any aspect of coaching and submit it to me via the contact page. I will make an effort to answer all questions by the following Saturday.

Passing: Stats & Why Its Underrated

With any skill or fundamental, you need to be able to apply some kind of metric as a way to track progress. Passing as I stated in my post yesterday is the most underrated fundamental skill of all those that exist (yes, even more than defense). If you have an ability to pass the ball, it gives you a ton of flexibility on offense and also can help you out if you have a team that does not shoot the ball very well.


Statistically, teams who pass the ball well and don’t turn the ball over very much do very well in games. The result of improved passing is fewer turnovers and more assists.

Here are steps to tracking your passing:

  1. Look at the number of turnovers your team averages for the season prior to your commitment to improving ball handling and also look at the number of assists.
  2. Commit to incorporating passing drills (stay tuned next week for some ideas) into every practice and truly developing the skill level of your athletes.
  3. Start tracking the assist to turnover ratio and see if your assists are increasing and your turnovers are decreasing.
  4. In addition, when tracking turnovers, determine if they are a result of passing or ball hall handling.

The goal that I have set for my teams is to have an assist to turnover ratio of 2:1. If your team can do this, it bodes very well for your offense.

Passing: Its Importance

Passing is the most underrated basketball fundamental of all the fundamentals that I am emphasizing in this series. You can advance the ball up the court much quicker with a pass than by dribbling. Additionally, you can create scoring opportunities through passes and also force a defense to really move and work by passing the ball around the court.


Players today do not have proper footwork when it comes to passing and I strongly encourage that you start things out with reviewing my post about footwork. If an athlete is a skilled passer they will be able to help you out on offense and also will free up space on the court by requiring the attention of multiple defenders.

Passing drills should be run together as every player on your team needs to have skills and abilities to pass the ball. Having players able to pass the ball with both their right and left hand is also a skill that often gets underemphasized. Having abilities to pass with both your right and left hand is similar to having an ability to shoot lay-ups on both the left and right side.

Much like every other fundamental, I spend time in every practice working on different passing drills.

Shooting: More Advanced Drills & Concepts

As your team starts to become more proficient with shooting the ball, you can start to teach more advanced shooting concepts. Being able to shoot the ball in transition and create your own shot are two great advanced shooting concepts. A great teaching emphasis when looking to score in transition is teaching players to be balanced and have a shot that is soft after stopping from a full sprint. To create your own shot, you must have ball handling skills and be able to score from different spots on the court.


As your teams start to take it to the next level, you need to start making the drills that you run in practice more difficult as well. Here are some of the more advanced drills that I like to run to improve shooting:

  1. Lay-ups- To make this a more advanced technique, I have two lines on each baseline and we put two balls in each line. The first two players in each line will dribble full-court at full speed and shoot a lay-up. Once the ball goes through the net, the next player in line under the basket waiting will get the ball and dribble down to the other side. I set a timer for two minutes and our goal is to make at least 60 lay-ups. (We do this for both the right and left side).
  2. Shooting In The Paint- We incorporate a bit of ball handling here as well. I have players each get a ball and start at half court on either the right or left side. We have an obstacle that simulates a defender. Players will dribble at the obstacle and make a move to get to the middle and shoot a pull-up jumper or a floater.
  3. Mid-Range Jumpers- Players will each have a ball and start at the baseline. They will dribble full speed for the length of the court and pull-up into a jumper from mid-range.
  4. 3-Pointers- For this drill I have a ball handler line and a shooting line. The ball handling line will dribble past an obstacle set at the three point line. The shooter will make a euro-cut to a designated spot and receive a pass for a three-point jumper. This drill can focus on just your players who will be playing on the outside.
  5. Free Throws- I love this pressure drill at the end of practice. After the full court lay-up drill, I will have one player volunteer (It cannot be the same player twice until everyone goes). That player will shoot a 1 and 1 free throw situation that simulates the end of a game were we are down by one point. Here are the scenarios:
    If the make both- Practice is over
    If they make the first but miss the second- We will run two sprints that are double court in distance.
    If they miss the first- We will run five sprints that are double court in distance.

If you need a diagram of any of these drills or have questions about my descriptions, do not hesitate to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Shooting: Basic Drills & Ideas

The basic ideas of shooting are having your players able to make lay-ups and wide open jump shots on a consistent basis. In addition to being able to make open shots, I would define basic ideas to include having players aware of the difference between a good and a bad shot. You can win games without being an excellent shooting team but you do need to be able to make shots in order to score points.


Some basic drills that I incorporated when I first stepped in at Ontario really helped out with improving basic skill level. Here are a few drills that I incorporated to help improve our athletes:

  1. Lay-ups- One of the most basic drills that I incorporated early on was a two-line lay-up drill. We have one line with basketballs who are working on dribbling at the rim and making a lay-up.  The other line runs in to get a rebound and bring the ball to the lay-up line.
  2. Shooting In The Paint- While focusing on sticking with the basics, I have players work on their form and emphasize that they shoot with one hand. They will start just a couple of feet from the basket and make five shots with one hand, emphasizing proper form and working on mechanics. They will then step back a bit and continue the process back to the free throw line.
  3. Mid-Range Jumpers- A great catch and shoot drill involves having groups of two or three athletes. One shooter will run back and forth between two designated spots and shoot on the catch. The other players will work on rebounding and getting a pass out to the shooter. Pick anywhere form 10-20 shots at a time per shooter.
  4. 3-Pointers- The best thing about this is that I do not run any drills working on this when focusing on the basics.
  5. Free Throws- Before water breaks and when we are a bit fatigued I will have players shoot five free throws each.

If you need a diagram of any of these drills or have questions about my descriptions, do not hesitate to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Look To Give Back

As a coach, it is important to ensure that you are doing the job for the right reasons. I will post at a later date about some of the different reasons that people get into coaching. If you are truly in it for the right reasons and want to lead by example (refer back to my post on this), then I encourage you to give back to the community.


Over the past few seasons, I have made an effort to volunteer at events in the community. Finding different charitable groups who do great work locally is one excellent way to become a valuable member of your school community and the local community outside of the school. We have had some great programs in our area as well as fundraising drives to help out local organizations as well.

An even better way to support your community is to host free basketball clinics for young children in your community. This obviously depends on the facilities at your school and how flexible your district is about allowing you to do this. My district requires charging children to attend and I do not think that is right due to the camp not being available then to all students. Therefore, I have offered my coaching abilities at other facilities and do not do it through my school. In order to give back, I think it is crucial to do so to everyone in the community.