Basketball Drills - Hustle, Loose Ball Drills

By Dr. James Gels, From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

"It takes no talent to hustle." - Hans Schmidt

We refer to them as "scrums" - diving on loose balls. Securing a few loose balls (for a few extra possessions) can make all the difference in a close game. It sets a tone of "scrappiness" and toughness. A great hustle play is often a great team motivator and energizer. Here are a few loose ball drills.

diving for a loose ball

Hustle Drill #1

This is a good drill for emphasizing hustle and getting loose balls. It also drills 1-on-1 offensive skills, man-to-man defensive skills, and rebounding. A "laid back" player can be taught to hustle, and to get after the ball and the opponent.

Refer to the diagram. Divide the team into two groups. They will be competing against each other, so even out the speed and talent. Line each team up along a sideline. Each player is given a number, 1,2 ,3, etc (see diagram).

Try to align your post players into the 1 and 2 spots, and the guards further out (3 - 5). The players get down on their knees, or all fours, facing away from the floor. No peeking! If they cheat, the other team gets a point.

hustle drill #1

Starting the Drill:
A coach places the ball somewhere on the floor, equidistant from each team. You could place it out high, or in the paint. Coach then yells a number 1 through 5. The player from each team whose number he calls, sprints out to get the loose ball.

The player who gets the ball, then takes it to the hoop and tries to score, while the other player defends. Keep playing until the offense scores, or the defense gets the ball. Award one point for getting the loose ball, and another point for a score. Play to 10. Losers run!

1. You can call more than one number at a time - e.g. "2 and 5!", or "everybody". Be careful though, if you call too many at one time, there could be a collision going for the ball. Make sure you rotate the numbers called, so that all players are eventually called.

2. If defense fouls, the offensive player shoots one free throw. If he/she makes it, it counts as a score.

Hustle Drill #2

See the diagram. This drill features grabbing a rebound, making an outlet pass, running after a loose ball, and then a layup.

Start with a player in the lane on each end of the floor. The coach (C) and an assistant (A) will set up on the wings for the outlet pass. The player puts the ball up on the rim or backboard, grabs the rebound, and makes a strong two-handed overhead pass to the coach on the wing.

hustle drill #2

The coach then rolls the ball up the floor. The player sprints after the ball, retrieves it and takes it in for a layup. Then he/she rebounds and outlet passes to the assistant on the opposite wing and the procedure repeats on that side.

Run the drill in one direction (right hand layups) and then reverse it on the opposite side (left hand layups).

fighting for a loose ball

Hustle Drill #3, Charge/Loose-Ball Drill

This drill was contributed by Coach Ken Sartini, Arlington Heights, IL, and is more advanced, combining a number of things into one drill. See the diagrams below. Use two coaches (C).

In diagram A, the players form a line on the right wing. The grey triangle is a chair or cone (to slow the offensive player down a little). One player (B) starts in the lane in helpside position. Player A makes a back-cut (or a V-cut if you prefer) and receives the pass from Coach #1. Player A dribbles around the chair, to the hoop.

Basketball drill, Charge/Loose-Ball

Player B slides over and takes the charge (making some noise when he/she falls). To avoid injury, have player A make a jump-stop into player B, and then try to focus and make the jump shot. When a good charge is taken, the coach yells "offensive foul", and the entire team yells "great call ref!"

Player B rebounds and passes back out to Coach #1 (diagram B). Coach #1 rolls the ball out sideways near the 3-point arc, and player B sprints and dives on the loose ball, gains control and passes out near half court to Coach #2. Player B then sprints to the far basket, and receives a long lob pass from Coach #2, and makes the lay-up.

Basketball drill, Charge/Loose-Ball Basketball drill, Charge/Loose-Ball

Next, he/she rebounds the lay-up and then dribbles up the sideline for a reverse lay-up at side basket #1, and then dribbles to side basket #2 for a jump stop and jump shot.

Optionally, instead of lay-ups at the side baskets, you can have Player B make two dribble moves (e.g. "rocker-step" and "in-and-out" moves). Player B then returns to the end of the line. Player A rotates to become Player B.