Thursday, November 8, 2012

One on One

Several years ago I did some research on a coach named Anson Dorrance.  You may have heard of him.  He is the women's soccer coach at the University of North Carolina, and let me blow your mind with some numbers:  In 34 years as head coach, he's won 20 NCAA championships.  His career record is 728-44-26 (91.2% wins).

So when Coach Dorrance speaks about anything relative to motivation or skill development, he has my full attention.  And one of the topics he's most passionate about is the use of one-on-one games as the single best way to improve your team. (Being a soccer coach, he refers to this as "1 v. 1").  His idea is that if you can significantly improve each player's 1 v. 1 ability, your whole team will improve in the process.  A rising tide lifts all boats!

About the same time I was learning about this from Coach Dorrance, I came across a DVD by Phil Martelli (St. Joseph's University) on using competive 1 on 1 basketball drills in practice.  I'd heard about this from a post on the runandgun chatgroup by Muhlenberg's Ron Rohn who highly recommended the DVD.  So I ordered it, loved it, and stole three of his drills.  Without further adeiu, here they are!

1/1 CONES-  Place one cone near half-court about 15 feet in from the sideline, with a second cone that is about 10 feet inside the other one.  Pair up players, and start them on the baseline.  The offensive player dribbles towards the outside cone, while the defensive player sprints around the inside cone.  After dribbling around the cone, the ball-handler aggressively attacks the defender and tries to score off the drive.  He gets just one shot! Then the next pair starts.  The next time through the line, offensive players become defenders, etc.  Play for four minutes and keep score.  Purpose: Develops ability of handlers to score off the drive in transition.

1/1 DENY- Here the two opponents start in the lane, with the offensive player standing about 4 feet in front of the rim, and the defender starting with his back to the offensive player, facing a coach who is standing at the top of the arc with a basketball.  The offensive player can break out to either wing, receives a bounce pass from the coach, which he catches outside the arc, faces up and attacks one on one.  He must use only 3-4 dribbles to score.  One shot only... next time through the drill switch from offense to defense.  Play for 4 minutes and keep score. Purpose: Develops ability to score from the wing with a live dribble.

1/1 SLAP & GO-  Two opponents face each other across the FT line.  They start the drill by slapping hands, then the one nearest half-court sprints and touches the center circle, while the other sprints and touches the baseline.  A coach with a basketball is even with the top of the arc, about 5 feet outside the edge of the lane.  As the offensive player nears the arc, the coach tosses him a soft pass.  He catches and shoots the three or (if the defense is too tight) blows by him with a drive.  One shot... switch O to D... play for four minutes... keep score.  Purpose:  Develops ability to score from the trail spot in transition.

A few logistical details: 
  • To force defenders to guard the arc (and prevent them from just camping in the lane) we give the shooter 4 points if she can make a three-pointer, and only 1 point for a shot inside the arc.  This format really keeps them honest!  (If I coached guys, I'd probably only reward the offense 3 pts for a trey.)
  • We set up a round robin tournament, so over the course of several weeks, everyone on the team will eventually play everyone else.  Guards play guards, forwards, big men... whatever.  It all evens out in the end.
  • We post this tournament bracket on the wall, and players must check before each practice to see who they will be playing, and what end of the court they will play at (we like having about 3-4 pairs on each end... just about right in terms of rest vs. work ratio.)
  • We get a drink right after this drill, so players can report who won.  We just circle the winner on the bracket, and update each player's win/loss standings each day.
  • If there is a tie, the better (preferred) shooter of the two players steps immediately to the top of the arc, catches a pass from the coach, using a bunny hop, and shoots a three.  If he makes it, he wins the game... if he misses, his opponent is the winner.  That's it.
  • We do one drill, three days a week.  Each day we use a different drill, and have a different opponent.
Players love this part of practice, and make huge progress throughout the year learning how to attack one on one. It's especially valuable for female players for two reasons.  First, they don't play much one on one growing up, and therefore they can make dramatic progress over the course of the season! 

Second, Coach Dorrance says that he uses 1 v.1 work with his players because it teaches them to compete head-to-head, and this is something which really gives them an edge.  He credits much of his phenomenal success to a series of drills that he calls "The Competitive Cauldron," and 1 v. 1 is one of the drills he uses in the cauldron to teach female players how to develop their competitive instincts.

Works for guys, too! 

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