Individual Skills Development for Perimeter Players

Three weeks ago, Ricky Kristensen, the U17 boy’s coach from SISU, invited me for a conversation regarding if I can have a skill training session with his team.

It was a pleasant conversation about the sport that we both love, and we are engaged in, and in the end, I agreed to take the practice for 23rd of February, which was the previous weekend.

Ricky requests for working with his team were: ball handling, point guards move, dribbling, one on one moves to the basket, vision – how to beat a defender, passing on and off the dribble in different wcays, and maybe some 2 vs. 2.

All I added was footwork, but this would have come anyway with the guard’s moves.

That’s being said I started to plan the whole thing. Doing only one practice, I had to decide what I consideyr is the most important weapons a guard should possess.

I believe that is decisive for a guard to be aggressive all the time, and that’s why I chose to start with the pocket dribbling with the drop steps, which for me is the essential move while a player is dribbling.

Then I planned the jab and swing series, which are catch and shoot series with jabs or rip-thru, but on different pivot feet. Those for me have the same importance as the drop steps, because I think it is the same but starting without a dribble.

As a finisher, I didn’t choose lay-ups, not because it is unimportant, but I wanted to offer them the opportunity to have in their arsenal some other weapons. How coach Erez Bittman mentioned during one of his clinics, we have to provide the players seven, eight moves so they can use two or three. Otherwise, they will only use one. So, they had to finish with a bully move in some situations, or with a hop jumper in other cases, which is a bully move but instead going to the rim you jump up in front of the help defense. And, of course, we also trained the pull-up jumper, but only in three steps, because with the fourth step you lose all the advantage that you created.

Then I used cones which are emphasizing the defenders for the next progression which was transition moves like drop and go, thru the legs (which by the way is a natural drop), drag stops with drop and go, and in the end altogether in one “assault” to the defender. How I also told the players at the end of the drill, when they will master those moves, and they will be able to execute it in high speeds, the defender will not exist anymore in front of them.

Then, we moved to pass, and I prepared two drills. The first one was about feeding the post with four types of passes, but also skipping the ball from the Post and swinging to the wing. The second one involved all the players at the same time, and it is called “Pass and Follow.” After each pass, you have to follow it and replace your teammate, which naturally will follow his pass. There are four types of passes involved in the drill: baseball pass, over the head pass, chest pass, and bounce pocket pass with a no dribbling bully finisher.

Next drill is one of my favorites, and again coach Erez Bittman has a significant contribution to my knowledge on how to build an exercise which incorporates a lot of skills in the same time, and where the whole team is involved, and nobody waits more than 10 seconds. Here is the drill:

Three rows, balls each player on the right row, and each on the others two except the first players. They step into the wing, top, and opposite wing slots. Then top gives and away-screen to the left side. Then he receives the ball, catches and rips. In the same time the left-wing v-cut inside for a backdoor cut, run outside, signals the backdoor with the fist (thanks Erez gain), and cuts. The player with the ball starts dribbling to him and gives him a left hand (weak hand) bounce pass, and he can finish with any move that he wants. Then the passer posts inside and receive the ball from the next in line, steps thru the ball with the inside foot, pivots and turns to the basket, and now he is in jab series in the mid-Post. He has to fake a shot, rip and power dribble, then finish with his left hand. The right-wing player has to v-cut inside and curl at the elbow for a catch and shot a jumvper, and then the drill goes on and on with the next in the row.

Executed correctly and in a good rhythm each player shots the ball almost at the same time, and this contributes to a game pace situation.

The last one was a 2vs2 game with screen away, flare screen and pin-down entries. I was delighted to watch how good they are, and how they can apply what we did during the practice, and I think Ricky has a significant contribution on their development, as you can see how well trained, they are.

I left for the end what I told the kids at the beginning of the practice, as the “Emphasis of the day” and it was something like this:

“Everything you do matters, the attention to details create the difference between being a good player and an elite exceptional one.” Then my message to them was: “Trust what you are doing and let the mistakes come, as a result, don’t overthink because then you try to fight against mistakes, and this will never work.”

If it worked or not, I will let you decide, and you can watcvh the whole practice here:

I want to thank again to Ricky for the opportunity to practice with his team and also to the players who were great.

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