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Basketball Drills - Partner Drills

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook

Basic fundamentals need to be drilled during every practice, even at the collegiate level. These partner drills fit in nicely after doing your initial ball-handing and dribbling drills. Have your players "partner up" with another player of similar size and skill set.

These partner drills feature passing and catching, defensive close-outs, boxing-out, and shooting. You can quickly run through each of these drills in the first part of each practice, spending just several minutes on the passing drills, and a minute or two on the close-out and box-out drills. The shooting drills take a little longer, but you might just use one of the shooting drills seen below in any given practice, and rotate them from practice to practice.

Partner Passing Drills

See diagram A. Partners are about 12 - 14 feet apart and each partner has a ball. Starting with the right-hand drills, partners pass simultaneously to each other with a right-handed "push" air pass, and receive the pass with the left (or both) hands and quickly transfer it to the right hand and pass it again to the partner... this is repetitive, continuous, with both partners in sync.

Then we go to right-handed bounce passes, like a right-handed pass into the low post... each partner again passing simultaneously. Next, the partners turn sideways and do behind the back air passes simultaneously. Finally, we do behind the back bounce passes. Then, we repeat all of these passes with the left hand.

Next, one partner will do a two-handed chest pass while his/her partner simultaneously makes the bounce pass. Finally, we have one partner doing a two-handed overhead (outlet or skip) pass while simultaneously the partner does a chest pass. Stress good technique and passing accuracy.

Partner passing drills Partner close-out drill Partner box-out drill

Partner Close-Out Drill

See diagram B. Partners are about 15 feet apart and just one partner has a ball. Partner #1 rolls the ball to his/her partner and then sprints and makes a good close-out, as partner #2 takes one or two dribbles to either side, with the defender containing the ball.

Then they separate to 15 feet again, and partner #2 (with the ball) now rolls the ball and closes-out. Do this back and forth for a couple minutes and move on. Stress good close-outs and footwork.

Partner Box-Out Drill

See diagram C. Partners are just a few feet apart and facing each other. Neither has a ball. When the coach yells "Shot!" partner #1 immediately boxes-out player #2 by stepping into him/her, making contact with a forearm, and then a good, quick, strong reverse pivot, with feet wide, low, with butt and elbows out... hold the box-out for a couple seconds.

Then players reset, coach yells "Shot!", and partner #2 then boxes-out partner #1. Do this for a minute or two and move on. Focus on good footwork, making contact and good boxing-out technique.

Partner Sideline Dribbling Drills

Although not included in this page, the "Sideline Dribbling Drills" are excellent partner drills to include here for working on dribble moves, and dribbling on the move.

Partners 1-on-1 Drill

We use this drill as both an offensive and defensive drill. Defenders try to stop the offense 1-on-1. The offensive player attacks and tries to beat his/her man 1-on-1. In this drill, each player has a partner (opponent) that he/she goes 1-on-1 against. Each pair has a ball.

Use both ends of the court. The player with the ball starts at the top of the key and tries to make a move, or shoot the outside shot and score on the defender. The defender must stop the offense, box-out and get the rebound. The offense gets a point for (1) each basket made, (2) for each offensive rebound and (3) if the defender fouls.

No second shots are allowed. Each pair keeps track of their score. Have post players paired up with post players, and guards paired up with guards. Play to 5 (each player gets five offensive attempts). At the end, the losers do 5-10 push-ups.

Rotation (see arrows in the diagram)
After a pair has finished their duel, they get in line on the other end of the floor, but switch offense and defense for the next possession.

With this drill we want our offensive players working on their 1-on-1 moves... jab step, shot fake, dribble moves (in-and-out, crossover), etc. The offensive player must quickly attack the defender to simulate what really happens in a game... He/she can't just slowly back him down in the paint (which hardly ever happens in a game situation). In addition to running this drill from the top of the key, you can also run it with the players starting from either wing.

1-on-1 drill

Here are several partner shooting drills that come from my page "2-Man Shooting Drills". For completeness sake, I have included them here in this article as well. Have each player get a partner and use all of your baskets.

With all of these drills, make sure your shooters are squared up, using good shooting technique, elbow in, follow through, no drifting sideways. Shooters should receive the ball in triple threat position. Make sure the passes are sharp and accurate. Players should sprint after the ball and to their shooting spots (game speed)... no loafing! Make the drills competitive and have each pair keep score. Losers do push-ups.

Partner Shooting Drill #1, Catch and Shoot.

Player #1 makes a good chest pass to player #2. #1 follows the pass and closes-out on #2, but does not try to block the shot or simply fly by the shooter. #2 takes the shot (no dribbling)and follows it for the rebound.

Now player #2 passes back out to player #1 (who is at position A) and closes-out on #1, who is now the shooter. After both players have shot from position A, they move next to position B, and on around the circle and then back around again (E->D->C->B->A). If you are coaching younger players, have them move in closer so that correct shooting form is not compromised.

Partner Shooting Drill #2, Shot Fake and Shoot Jumper.

Follow the same procedure as in Drill #1, but this time have your shooter first receive the pass in triple threat position, make a shot fake or jab step, move around the defender using no more than one or two dribbles, and then shoot the jump shot. The shooter can move in either direction, using a pump fake and moving right, or a shot fake and crossover move to the left.

2-Man Shooting Drill, Catch and Shoot

Partner Shooting Drill #3, Fake and Drive for the Lay-up.

Again, the same procedure is used. This time the receiver makes a shot fake and explodes through the defender (rub off his shoulder) for the drive to the hoop and lay-up.

Partner Shooting Drill #4, Anything Goes!

Same procedure as above, but now the shooter has all of the above options and the defender plays all out defense.

Partner Shooting Drill #5, Elbow Shooting.

Player #1 is the re-bounder for player #2. #2 starts at the left elbow, fakes left and cuts to the right elbow. #1 passes to #2 so that the pass arrives at the right elbow the same time #2 does. #2 plants the inside foot, squares up and takes the shot.

Make sure that correct shooting form is being used and that the shooter does not "drift" sideways. #1 rebounds the shot and passes back to #2 for the shot now at the left elbow. #2 continues moving back and forth from elbow to elbow for a total of ten shots. Then the players switch roles and #1 is the shooter for ten shots. You can repeat this for as many sets as you want, getting 20, 30, 40 or 50 shots for each player.

The elbow shooting drill can be modified. You can have the shooter catch the ball, make a shot fake, cross-over dribble to the middle of the paint (between the free throw line and the circle hash marks) for the short jumper. This is especially useful for your post players, helping them to acquire that "soft touch" on the short, point blank jumper.

2-Man Shooting Drill, Elbow Shooting

Shooting Drill #6, Partner Shooting.

This drill will help shooting, spotting up, and will emphasize that shooters should follow their shots. Each player gets a partner, preferably with another player who plays a similar position. That is, the a perimeter player should pair up with another perimeter player, and post players should pair up together. Each pair has a ball. Use all the baskets in the gym.

For perimeter players: One player starts on the right wing (player #1) and the other starts opposite on the left wing (player #2). Player #1 on the right wing shoots, follows the shot, rebounds and passes out to #2 on the left wing. Player #1 then spots up at another place on the perimeter.

Player #2 takes the shot, follows it, rebounds, and passes to #1, who is now spotted up in a different location. This rotation continues, with the players moving around to all the locations that they will normally shoot from in a game... corners, top of the key, etc. For a variation, do the same drill but instead of spot stationary shooting, have the shooter fake the shot, dribble adjust, and then take the jumper.

For post players: Use the same drill as above except the post players should be taking their shots inside, in the paint, around the hoop, and can actually work on their post-up moves. After rebounding, the player can dribble the ball out and pass down into the post to his partner.

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