Monday, March 25, 2013


I have often spoke of Mike Neighbors and his University of Washington email newsletter and will continue to do so -- if you are coaching you need to get on this mailing list.  A couple of times a month, Mike is putting out tremendous information like this drill I got from his last email.  To get on Mike's email list simply hit him up at  He'll be glad to add you.  Here is one of the drills he passed along:

One of the “necessary evils” late in a season is working with your team in 5-on-0 situations. I used to call it Dummy Offense but the high school principal at my school thought I was demeaning my players. Some people call it skeleton O, some call it Dry O, some call it shell O… regardless of what we call it, simulating your team offense without a defense is an important part of what we do.

A team’s ability to PRETEND in this situation has always been a good sign for us. If our players have the ability to simulate a defender in front of them requiring them to catch and square, to use short/violent fakes on their moves, to make crisp cuts/passes, and then finish with a move that mirrors one that might be taken in traffic at the buzzer… Not all players and teams can do this. Our best teams can… our worst teams can’t.

During this week between our Conference Tournament and the post-season, we had four practices in which we had no opponent to prepare for. It’s the first time that has been the case since late October.

To help simulate game situations in a competitive setting, we split our ten players into two even teams. Purple was up first. 3:00 on the clock… We told them they could score on any of our Dribble Drive options. The only requirement was that on the first five possessions each of the five players must be the player to attempt the first shot of the possession. After the first five trips, they anyone could take the first shot. A made three pointer was worth three points. A made two pointer was worth two points. If they first shot of the possession was missed, and they could rebound that miss before the ball hit the floor, they could shot from that spot and if made could earn 1 point. Coaches also could wave off ANY POINTS if the execution was incorrect or the effort wasn’t up to game like standards. At the end of the three minutes, Purple moved to the side where each player attempted a 1 and 1 FT to add to their First Period Score. Gold got their 3:00 under the same rules and then attempted their FT’s on a side goal as Purple began Period #2.

In Period #2, scoring and having all five players attempt first shot on possession remained the same. In this period, the team had to execute any of our Three Zone Motion actions. At the end of 2nd period, each player shot a 2 shot FT opportunity. Teams switch.

Period #3 was back to man-to-man actions from a chosen family of set plays. At the end of this period rather than shoot FT’s the team executed 5 bounds plays of their choice.

Period 4 was back to Zone using any of our set plays utilized against zone defense. At the end of the 4th period, each shooter had a 1+1 Free Throw… IF, they made both ends, they were rewarded with a 3rd free throw. This put extra pressure on that first shot.

We did this four days in a row, with a wide variety in the way we split the teams. Each day, the winner was determined during the last period’s FT’s. My point being, regardless of how we split the talent, the team and competitive nature of the drill made it very productive.

You could vary it to fit your offensive attack. You could vary the times to give more or less conditioning. You could vary the FT’s at the end of periods or eliminate them totally.

Some things we noticed:

· After the mandatory all five players shoot possessions, it was very telling who THAT team wanted to be taking their shots. (We had pretty substantial consequences for the teamthat lost!!!)

· Players from the team quickly pointed out to coaches if the team didn’t execute, or so-and-so didn’t pop her feet on the screen, etc .

· As coaches, if one team got a big lead we could manipulate the score a little by nit picking

· One day a team got particularly hot, so I simulated a BAD OFFICIAL, and started calling travels when it wasn’t even close. A player rolled her eyes… TECHNICAL FOUL… So that team quickly just played through it… It’s not always fair. It gives you a lot of control and variety. I really suspected after 4 straight days there would be some drop off of intensity and focus but I was wrong. In fact, the first day back after learning who we played next in post-season, a player asked me why we didn’t do Competitive 5-on-0 today…

Play around with it and let me know ways you tweak it with your team if you try it.