This article was written by Colgate University assistant men's basketball coach Mike McGarvey. Coach McGarvey has been with the Raiders since 2011 and is responsible for recruiting, scouting, and guard development among other things. Previously to coaching at Colgate, he was an assistant coach at Ursinus College for 5 years.
Every basketball coach wants to help their players make smart decisions. Nevertheless, many players have bad habits and tendencies that could limit the full potential of a team’s success. Those players and teams need training to develop good player habits. In this article, I discuss some of the more common individual player habits that prevent teams from reaching their full potential on offense and recommend some basketball drills to use in practice that may help remedy these inhibiting habits.
The Players Who Waste Their Dribble
We've all witnessed it at some point. This player's first instinct is to dribble the ball as soon as they catch it, which puts him or her at an immediate disadvantage. The official's five second count is on; the defensive player no longer has to wonder what the offensive player is planning to do with the ball; and, perhaps most importantly, the timing and spacing of the offense has likely been disrupted.
So, as a coach faced with this frustrating tendency of one or more of your players, what can you do to break the habit? In addition to emphasizing it verbally within your team, a successful method I've found is to practice with imposed dribble limitations. Practice 5v5 full court and half court with no dribbles. Then add a maximum of one dribble or two dribbles. Take a look at how the efficiency of the offense changes depending on how many dribbles are allowed in the drill.
When conducting off-season workouts, play 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 basketball competition drills with a three dribble maximum. If you consistently implement these types of dribble limitations I think you will notice your players valuing the advantages of staying “dribble alive” and becoming more efficient with their use of the bounce.
Players Who Stand and Watch when the Ball is Entered Into the Post
Most coaches teach a desired action off a post entry. If you currently do not have a post entry action, I suggest you think about implementing one to add some focus to your offense when the ball goes down low. Some common post entry actions include the cut/fill, repost/relocate, and screening the nearside elbow. However, many times players do not run the post entry action with the urgency needed to be successful off of a post touch.
My suggestion for trying to enhance your players' ability to play off the post is to place a limitation on the offense during practice that prevents a shot from being taken until the ball is entered to the low/high post at least two or three times. This should teach your players to consciously seek post touches, and learn how to make good passes and catches to/from the post.
It will also help your players think about executing their movement following the post entry pass. I believe practicing with these limitations will help you coach whatever your desired actions are and will help your team form good habits playing off of post touches.
Players Lacking Meaningful Dribble Penetration
There is no better way to dissect a defense than with efficient use of purposeful dribble penetration. There is tremendous value that can be realized by a team of players who move the ball as a single unit, attack closeouts, keep good spacing, make hard cuts off drives, and ultimately make smart decisions when penetrating the defense.
My suggestion to help improve your team's ability to penetrate with purpose is by practicing competitively with points rewarded for driving the ball to desired locations on the floor (i.e. the paint, elbow or baseline). With added incentive, your players will look to drive the ball more than usual. Additionally, there will be more opportunities to execute your desired action (player movement) off dribble penetration for baseline and middle drives.
The more you practice it, the more confident your players will be when it happens in game situations. Let’s also not forget the improvements we’ve made with over-dribbling in No. 1. Dribble penetration with purpose is typically accomplished with only one, two, or three dribbles!
These are some of the bad habits I see most commonly from players of all ages and skill level. From youth players to professionals, there is always room for improvement. I hope these examples and recommendations encourage you to think of unique ways to increase your team’s offensive efficiency moving forward.