Basketball Drills - Partner Drills

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, which means that Coach's Clipboard receives a small commission (at no cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

Basic fundamentals must be drilled 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, 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. Just use one of the shooting drills (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. Finally, do behind the back bounce passes. Then repeat all of these passes with the left hand.

Next, one partner does 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 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. They then switch offense and defense and do this back and forth for a couple minutes. 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 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. 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 1-on-1 drill as both an offensive and defensive drill. The offensive player attacks the defender 1-on-1. Each player has a partner (opponent) that he/she goes against 1-on-1. 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 tries to 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 pair with post players, and guards pair 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 attack the defender to simulate what really happens in a game - he/she can't just slowly back him down in the paint (which never occurs 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 "2-Man Shooting Drills". For completeness sake, I have included them here 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 passes are sharp and accurate (these are passing drills as well as shooting). 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 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 (rubs 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 live defense.

Partner Shooting Drill #5, Elbow Shooting.

Player #1 is the rebounder 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 shoots.

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 post players, helping them to acquire that soft touch on the short jumper.

2-Man Shooting Drill, Elbow Shooting

Shooting Drill #6, Partner Shooting.

This drill helps shooting, spotting up, and emphasizes that shooters should follow their shots. Each player gets a partner, preferably with another player who plays a similar position. Each pair has a ball. Use all of the baskets.

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 shoots, 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, 1-dribble adjust, and shoot the jumper.

For post players: Use the same drill as above except the post players should be taking their shots inside, in the paint or short corners, and can work on their post moves. After rebounding, the rebounder dribbles the ball out and passes inside to his partner posting up.