Shooting Drills With a Twist

In a previous entry, I wrote about the principles and scientific justifications of shooting and practicing shooting. This entry is attempt to put together a list of drills that could be used to turn those principles into praxis. You are probably familiar the basic drills but the potential novelty lies in the modifications they have faced. The latest drill was added on April 18 2017.


  1. Basically, you have a rebounder and a shooter. That’s the “one plus one” part in the name of the drill.
  2. You have one or two pairs at each basket.
  3. The shooter starts from close to the basket.
  4. After making two shots in a row, he moves one step further away.
  5. To add variability to the drill, the shooter shoots each and every shot from a different location. In other words, even while keeping the distance basically the same, he changes the angle and the distance a little.
  6. After passing the ball to the shooter, the rebounder may raise his both hands. That’s a signal to the shooter: instead of taking a shot, he passes the ball back to the rebounder, relocates, receives another pass, and shoots (unless the rebounder raises his hands again).
  7. This makes the “one plus one” equal three: the rebounder is an extra offensive player, too.
  8. Additionally, you have one or more extra defensive players moving from one basket to another.
  9. These extras may be e.g. coaches, parents, or players coming off injuries (more on the subject in a previous blog entry). They make the “one plus one” in the name of the drill equal four.
  10. The extra defensive players may close out on the shooter and either pressure his shot or make him drive. Or alternatively, they may play the passing lane, so that even if the rebounder raises his hands, the shooter is not to pass the ball to him.
  11. This enhances the game-likeness of this very basic shooting drill. The key is adding to the cognitive load faced by the shooter.


  1. The drill is run pretty much like a regular lay-up drill as shown here. However, a defender and a pass receiver are added in order to add to the game-likeness and variability of the drill.
  2. After shooting a lay-up the shooter turns around, plays defense on the player next shooting a lay-up, and only then goes to the rebounding line.
  3. The next rebounder serves as an extra offensive player. The player going for the lay-up passes to the rebounder if he raises his both hands. The pass receiver variates where he is: he may cut to the basket, spot up in the corner etc.


  1. The shooter has the ball, and he starts at 10-20 feet from the basket.
  2. The rebounder signals which way he wants the shooter to move (backwards, forward, left, right).
  3. The shooter closes his eyes and starts dribbling into that direction. He goes rather slowly, yet changes speed from shot to shot.
  4. After one to five dribbles the rebounder calls “Shot!” The shooter picks up the dribble and goes up for the shot. While in the air, he opens his eyes to see where the basket is and takes the shot.
  5. The idea is to develop the ability to hit a shot even when there are initial complications (e.g. you have to delay the shot because of defensive pressure).
  6. The underlying assumption is that “basketball jump shooting relies on online visual [—] control rather than motor preprogramming“.
  7. There is no rule as to exactly when the shooter is to open his eyes. Rather, he is instructed to challenge himself and to open his eyes as late as possible so that he should still be able to hit the shot.
  8. As often in shooting drills, the rebounder may double as a pass receiver and an extra defender may be added.


  1. The set-up is a shooter and a rebounder.
  2. The shooter is to make six baskets using five different arches.
  3. The arches have numbers: 1 = As low as possible, 2 = Moderately low, 3 = Regular, 4 = Moderately high, 5 = As high as possible.
  4. The rebounder calls out a number and the shooter must hit a shot using that type of an arch.
  5. So, if the rebounder calls “One” the shooter must shoot using as low an arch as possible.
  6. He keeps shooting using a low arch until he makes one. Then the rebounder calls another number.
  7. Each set starts and ends with a Three arch. All other numbers are used once, so the total number of makes is six.
  8. You may variate the distance from set to set, but within each set, stick to about the same distance. That’s because the emphasis should be on varying the arch, not the distance.


  1. You have a rebounder and a shooter.
  2. One or two pairs at each basket.
  3. The shooter shoots from three different distances: first from 3 meters, then from 5 meters, and last from beyond the 3-point line.
  4. Before moving further, he needs to make two shots from the spot.
  5. The two shots need to be different from each other. The coach determines what types of shots are to made.
  6. From beyond the 3-point line, the player must make three shots: first two different ones, and then a regular one to finish the game.
  7. There are plenty of options for the types of different shots: fade away / leaner; lean left / lean right; early release / late release; strong hand / weak hand.


  1. One against one, one pair at each basket.
  2. Five shooting spots: two corners, two wings, and the middle.
  3. For the first shot, the shooter starts at a corner spot. The defender has the ball under the basket inside the no-charge semi-circle.
  4. The defender makes a crisp, direct pass to the shooter, closes out and plays defense. No bounce passes are allowed.
  5. The shooter may either take a shot right off the catch or use one dribble and then shoot. However, the shot must be taken outside the paint.
  6. A basket equals one point for the shooter, as does a defensive foul. No rebounding takes place, i.e. each play ends as the shot is taken.
  7. For the second shot, the shooter rotates to the next spot, and so on, until he has taken one shot from each of the five spots.
  8. Then the shooter and the defender switch parts.
  9. Whoever scores the most points, is the winner.
  10. For the next round, the losers from each basket rotate to the next basket, and the winners stay at the same basket.
  11. Ways to variate the drill include: continue play after the first shot (i.e. include rebounding), change the defender’s starting spot (i.e. make him close out from the side), include an extra or extras (passer and/or help side defender).

DRILL 7: 2131

  1. The set-up is a shooter and a rebounder. And as explained above, you can put in extras.
  2. The shooter needs to make four shots in a row, in this order: long 2P – FT – 3P – FT.
  3. You can change the order of the shots.
  4. Every time he misses one, he re-starts with the first required make (here long 2P).
  5. The emphasis is on practicing free throws. Mixing them up with field goal shots may drop the FT% by surprisingly much if do not really concentrate on getting into the FT shooting mode in an instant.


  1. Using your laptop, show the players a clip of a lay-up executed in a game.
  2. Put in some dummy defender(s) and have your players mimic the lay-up.
  3. Sometimes, you may film one round of lay-up attempts and have the player vote who did the best job of mimicking.
  4. Beforehand, you should collect clips of variable lay-ups using e.g. screen recording while watching games.
  5. Once you start paying attention, you’ll notice that the variety of lay-ups elite players use is huge. Like in this 30-second clip alone, there are two different lay-ups to be mimicked.
  6. The same coaching method can be applied to any technical aspect of the game (e.g. jump shoots or steals).

7 thoughts on “Shooting Drills With a Twist

  1. Pingback: Blog: Remarks on Shooting and Practicing Shooting | Coach Harri Mannonen

  2. I’ve been experimenting with three player shooting drills. One I call “Extra Pass” has Player A passing to Player B and closing out, Player B makes the extra pass to Player C cutting or spotting up for a shot. They would then rotate: shooter to rebounder/defender and rebounder/defender to passer. You could alter the drill by having Player A, after passing to Player B, play Helping defense while guarding Player C. Player B puts the ball on the floor, Player A helps and Players B and C read how Player C helps to determine the next action (i.e. space to the corner, circle behind, back cut, etc.).

  3. Pingback: Theory Into Practice (Coach, Why Do We Practice This – Part 9) | Coach Harri Mannonen

  4. Pingback: Complexity, Creativity, and Everything | Coach Harri Mannonen

  5. With the Mimic Lay Up drill, can we run into problems when we attempt to use “mature” players for our example. What if our athletes do not have the same strength or movement skills to do similar movements as the ones we show them. Can they be practicing something that is totally beyond their capabilities.

    • Strength should not too much of a problem if the equipment is of age- appropriate size and weight. But yes, some lay-ups will still be too difficult for some players. But on the other hand, the idea is to reach beyond what the players have been doing before. If they fail it’s not too serious.

  6. Pingback: Utilizing Differential Learning in Basketball Training | Coach Harri Mannonen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s