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Individual Skill Development During Practice Time

Individual Skill Development

Summary of Individual Skill Development Article


  • Individual Skill Development Tips including shooting tips, daily shooting, ball handling routines, and a segmented pre-practice routine.
  • 6 Segments Using 3-4 players in each drill typically lasts 30 minutes and covers every basic offensive fundamental in a short time
  • Extremely useful Individual Skill Development Plan for coaches with limited resources, gym availability, assistant coaches, and youth league practices

One of the most widely discussed topics in today’s game is Individual Skill Development.  We came up with a very efficient way of utilizing limited space and practice time to improve a players individual skills. This short and simple skill development segment is easily adaptable to your style of play and number of players. We usually begin after a pre-practice shooting routine, dynamic warm-up and anywhere from 3-4 team passing drills and ball handling. This block typically lasts about 30 minutes and each player will get a substantial number of shots up and ball handling done in a short amount of time.

Pre-Practice Shooting Routine – no free shooting before practice. Must earn the right to shoot.

Form Shooting

  1. 10 Air Shots (No Ball/No Rim) – Focus on hand position, wrist and follow thru.
  2. 10 Shoot the Lines – Players will place the big toe of their shooting foot on a line perpendicular to their shoulders. Players will then shoot the ball in the air and attempt to land both the ball and their toe on the line.
  3.  Square-Ups Off Pass (with ball)- Around the 3pt arc, players self-toss and square up to rim on an inside pivot. Players will go around arc and back to starting spot
  4. Square-Ups Off Dribble (with ball) – Around the 3pt arc, players will take 2 hard dribbles and square up to rim on an inside pivot. Players will go around arc and back to starting spot.
  5. Perfects – With ball, players will now got their respective rims and execute 5 “perfect” shots at 3 spots using just their shooting hand.  The spots are outside the left and right blocks, parallel to the baseline and one directly in front of the rim. A “perfect” is a shot that is all net, not hitting the rim.

Daily Individual Shooting and Ball Handling Routine

Players will either partner up, or in groups of 3 or 4 to perform this routine, depending on the number of rims and players you have.  Each segment will last from 1 to 2 minutes in length, with each player going at least 30 seconds. One partner will be shooting and the other will be doing ball handling drills. Ball handling drills can be any of your choice.  We like to use tennis ball drills or two ball drills.

Segment 1 – Mikan/Reverse Mikan Drill – focus on shooting the ball with no side spin and off of one foot. Partner will be doing Dribble pounds while tossing the tennis ball in the air and catching with off hand. Switch hands have way through.

Segment 2 – Finishing Drills – Player starts at wing and drives hard to rim finishing with your move of choice for the day. Typically, we work on simple moves like the reverse layup, baseline reverse layup, fake pass to middle and finish or two foot finish with a shot fake. Players will dribble out to opposite wing and do the same move. Partner will be doing In-Out dribbles, Push-pulls or the pound pound cross-over.

Segment 3 – Rhythm Shooting/Arc Shooting – Player 1 will be the shooter approximately 12 feet from the rim and player 2 will be the passer-rebounder. The shooter will start in the ready position with hands in proper catching position, calling for the ball.  Player 2 will make a good pass to the shooter, hitting the shooter in the target hands. Player 1 will dig their non-shooting foot into the floor, rocking to the ball of their foot and sticking their shooting foot directly under their knee.  The shooter’s index finger, elbow, knee and toe should be in a direct line.  Shooter will shoot and back pedal to the starting position quickly. In the Arc Shooting drill, player 1 will be 2 steps outside the restricted area arc moving side to side along the arc.  The shooter will pivot on their inside foot and shoot a bank shot.

Segment 4 – Hubie Brown Shooting  3 parts – We like to chart this segment. Players will call out “Hubie” when they have made 3 consecutive makes. Player 1 will now move out to the baseline approximately 12 to 15 feet and will shoot from both the baseline and wing area, sliding between each spot. Player 2 will be the rebounder-passer. Players will shoot on one side, switch, and then the other (2 parts).  The 3rd part of Hubie Brown Shooting consists of the players “Shooting the D” . Players will now shoot at the elbows and trace the top of the key, focusing on getting their hips around and feet into the proper shooting position.

Segment 5 – 5 Spot Shooting/Partner Shooting – In this segment, you can use either, depending on your philosophy, point of the season, how much time you have or how stressed your team is. In 5 Spot Shooting, Player 1 may shoot for the entire time allowed with their partner as the rebounder-passer. Typically, this would be :30 to 1 minute per spot.  Some coaches have the players shoot for the entire 5 minutes and then switch instead of alternating. Entirely up to you as a coach. In Partner Shooting, the rebounder-passer makes a pass to the shooter, closes out and the shooter shoots over defense. The shooter gets their own rebound and the players switch roles.  This would last anywhere from 1 to minutes per spot.

Segment 6 – Free Throw Game – Here you can insert your choice of Free Throw game for total number of makes or makes in a certain time limit, or even a contest on the type of makes and or misses.  Quite often, we will use the plus/minus system for a cumulative total.  For example, the game may be to +8.  The shooter will get a -1 for a missed shot, +0 for a make that hits the rim, +1 for a swish that does not spin back to them and +2 for a swish that does spin back to them. As soon as they have reached this number or the time has run out, they can get a drink. If they did not reach the total, then a consequence must be paid.

Each of these Individual Skill Development drill segments are done quickly and no time is wasted going from one to the next.  The players get to know the routine quickly and become very comfortable in leading the drills themselves. In addition, as “repetition is the mother of skill” these drills serve as an excellent, intentional, daily process to develop good basketball habits.