3 Favorite Basketball Practice Warm Up Drills

3 Favorite Basketball Practice Warm Up Drills

One of the most important elements to designing a valuable practice plan is deciding what core basketball elements you’ll concentrate on. So when deciding between basketball practice warm up drills, it’s important for a coach to know where the focus will be. Getting your players warmed up and ready to compete needs to happen at the start of every practice. So why not use that segment to instill core elements to your offense and defense?

Many practices begin with traditional layup lines and jump shots. But how often are the players simply going through the motions of those drills? Installing the right warm up drills will vastly improve the efficiency of your practice.

Basketball Practice Warm Up Drills: Argentina Passing

Coaches always love drills that do double duty. When a drill that incorporates multiple basketball elements can be used, it helps maximize the value of that practice segment. Drills that develop specific skills and other elements like conditioning and/or communication are inherently more valuable than single-focus drills.

Argentina Passing sports that layered value because players progressing through the drill develop their passing skills, as well as hand-eye coordination, communication and conditioning. Passing drills in general get players mentally focused, and this one gets them moving as well.

basketball practice warm up drills 1

Eight players start on the court for this basketball practice warm up drill. Each player stands partnered with the teammate directly across or diagonally across from them in the half court. The two balls start with the center players and those players pass to their right. Immediately after a player passes, they cut across the court and exchange places with their partner.

basketball practice warm up drills

This drill rises above a normal passing drill because the players are sprinting through once they’ve made their pass. Players must concentrate on the catch, using a reverse pivot to open their hips on the catch.

Passes exclusively run to one side, meaning the players are always either passing to the right or the left. Coaches can focus on specific pass types. Coaches can also reverse the drill after a set amount of time.

Players work on passing, foot work, communication and conditioning through the drill.

Basketball Practice Warm Up Drills: Star Passing

Star Passing is common one in many gyms, but this version of the drill incorporates the necessary element of finishing with a made basket. This doubles well not only as a basketball practice warm up drill, but also as a game warm up.

Basketball Practice Warm Up Drills

The drill begins with players arrayed in a star across the half court. The ball starts with the line under the basket. There are lines in the corners, as well as on the wings.

The first pass goes from under the basket to the left wing. The passer follows their pass and joins the end of that line. From there, the left wing passes to the right corner and follows. Right corner makes a baseline pass to the left corner and follows.

The final move in this initial turn through the drill involves the left corner feeding the player that cuts from the right wing. That player receives the pass and finishes the turn with a layup.

Variations of the drill can incorporate a number of additional basketball elements. Coaches can require that the ball never hits the floor. They can reverse the flow of the drill to work on left-hand layups. Coaches can have a defender waiting at the rim to challenge the finisher. The list goes on an on.

Basketball Practice Warm Up Drills: Pivot Passing

The final basketball practice warm up drill here is called Pivot Passing. While this drill remains a staple at the youth level, there are practical elements here that can be incorporated into the practice plan of more advanced teams.

This drill stresses the specific development basic footwork. Players pair off and stand in four lines. If the players start on the baseline, they explode out with an attack dribble to the free throw line extended area. From there, the players jump stop, reverse pivot then pass to their partner at the baseline. The partner receives the pass an immediately explodes into the dribble.

Basketball Practice Warm Up Drills

The reverse pivot helps practice creating space, a necessary skill for any level of player. Coaches can layer shot fakes, step throughs, rips, etc. Change the specific pivot foot for the players and force them to adjust. Even the most athletic players may struggle with this seemingly basic drill because it layers specific movements and does so quickly.

Related: Youth Player Development and Practice Planning


High School Hoops Podcast:

Ep. 39: Coach Steger, 3 Favorite Practice Drills

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Basketball Pre-Game Warm Up Drills

Basketball Pre-Game Warm Up Drills

For many coaches, the quest for new and engaging basketball pre-game warm up drills seems like it’s never ending. And for the coaches who are tired of doing the same old things, sifting through all of the resources online can feel like a daunting task.

The key to any pre-game warm up routine is to get the players physically and mentally prepared. The traditional layup lines can certainly provide movement and the chance to practice an important shot. But too often, this drill engages just two or three of the players on the team. There’s a lot of standing around and waiting, and that’s not what you want your team to be doing in the run up to a game.

RELATED: Youth Basketball Development, Practice Planning and Drills

The reality is, pre-game is often an underutilized part of the game for many coaches. Instead of passively moving through a series of routine drills, coaches should approach pre-game with the same intensity and focus that’s expected of the game itself. The following drills should engage and prepare players of any age or ability.


Basketball Pre-Game Warm Up Drills: Four Corner & Show Time Passing


In this episode from the TeachHoops YouTube channel, Coach Collins and Coach Vann talk through a couple great options for any team.

Four Corner Passing has been a stable of so many coaches, thanks to the great Bobby Knight. While chaotic at first, this drill gets multiple players moving and practicing a key skill. Starting with four lines (two on the blocks and two at the elbows), players pass to the right, receives a pass back and runs through a dribble hand-off (DHO). Players rotate and the lines keep moving. This drill can go right or left and multiple balls can be added as the players improve.

Show Time Passing is another active drill that gets the players moving and thinking. The five line set up features near constant movement from the players, and involves the basic pass-and-cut, give-and-go action that’s integral to good team basketball.

Basketball Pre-Game Warm Up Drills Basketball Pre-Game Warm Up Drills

Addition Pre-Game Warm Up Sequences


This quick video below demonstrates a few pre-game warm up drills, including drive-and-kick for layups and baseline curl shot sequences.


This video provides an extended look at additional basketball pre-game warm up drills. A solid defensive sequence involves 3-on-3 close outs. It focuses on help-side responsibilities on defense and attacking the basket on offense. In addition, there’s a 5-on-5 walk through of offensive sets and a basic, four-person shooting drill.


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Basketball Competitive Practice Games

Basketball Competitive Practice Games

Basketball coaches everywhere are constantly searching for new Competitive Practice Games. Keeping young players engaged throughout a practice period often means mixing up physical warm-ups and stretching, technical drills and competitive contests. Coaches need to layer the information and embed key skills before introducing and installing specific sets.

But running through the same drills over and over can result in bored, disengaged players. Yes, they need to master the basic layup. But running through the same two-line drill every practice might have players check-out on their coach.

Enter the competitive practice games.

Basketball Competitive Practice Games

These games aren’t teaching drills per-say. The goal of competitive games is to get your players practicing key skills within the controlled environment of the closed gym. Here, the players are learning as they make their way through the progressions and reads, relying on their teammates to pick them up.

It’s important for coaches to allow their players to play through their mistakes and learn as these competitive practice games to unfold. These controlled situations and scrimmages also provide plenty of information for coaching staffs to digest. They’re learning the strengths and weaknesses of their teams.

One-Way Basket

This is a full-court competitive game that allows coaches to install a specific play or set, while also practice key defensive principles. In the half court, the offense runs their first action against a full compliment of defenders. If this action results in a basket, then the offense and defense switch. But if the defense gets a stop, then it’s a full court game.

The defensive stop flows into transition offense as that squad seeks to score. Only points scored off of defensive stops count in this competitive practice game. This game should flow back and forth for several minutes before coaches change anything.

Emphasis: Defense. Basketball coaches that incorporate this competitive practice game look to establish the mindset that the team needs to focus on getting defensive stops before getting to the offensive end of the floor.

RELATED: Youth Basketball Development, Practice Planning and Drills


One of the most frustrating elements of coaching at seemingly any level is dealing with unbalanced teams. Having a starting five that’s far more talented than their teammates forces a coach to come up with different ways of maximizing practice time. Since a starting five typically sports a team’s top players, scrimmaging the first five against any combination of the rest of the roster might not produce the practice results coaches are looking for.

And on those teams where there’s a dramatic split in playing level between the first five and the next five, scrimmages can often become just as frustrating for the players. But it’s also important for the best players in the rotation to get practice time together on the floor.

“Perfection” ultimately handicaps the competition, evening the practice floor to make it more interesting and engaging. The idea with this competitive practice game is for the “strong” team to play like normal. They need to be “perfect” and they get points for scores or anything else a coach is looking for. The “weaker” team, meanwhile, has access to all of the normal points, but also could get points for specific accomplishments, like offensive rebounds, forced turnovers, etc.

Emphasis: Attention to detail, competitive balance. While the top players might be more talented than their teammates, this competitive practice game can balance the scales to a certain extent and keep all parties engaged throughout. Afterwards, and this is true of any basketball competitive practice game, it’s important that coaches debrief with their players to emphasize specific elements.

Basketball Competitive Practice Games

One Way Basket Basketball Competitive Practice Game

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Basketball Shooting Drills

Basketball Shooting Drills

One of the most important parts of any coach’s practice plan is the incorporation of basketball shooting drills. These drills are valuable no matter the level of the team or the talent of the individual player. Shooting remains a key aspect of the game, and only through repetition and focus can a player improve.

For coaches, finding the right drills for your team can be frustrating. Depending on the team’s level and the talents of the gathered players, coaches sift through dozens of drills, searching for the right series. It’s important for a coach to understand their team’s ability and continuously push them to improve.

When developing shooting drills, a good coach must consider what types of shots they want to focus on. Drills should reinforce the skills that will help the players perform within the context of a game. So shooting drills should be designed around shots that would normally result from a team’s offensive actions. The best basketball shooting drills are representative of a team’s base offense.


Basketball Shooting Drills: 3-2-1 Shooting

This drill involves at least two players and is a high-volume, high-repetition practice. Over the course of one or two minutes, non-stop, a single shooter progresses through a series of jump shots. The other player rebounds and feeds the shooter from near the hoop.

The shooter begins behind the three-point line for their first shot. From there, the shooter moves into the midrange for their second shot. The last shot in the sequence is a layup (which is worth one point). The rebounder keeps track of the shooter’s score as their teammate progresses through the drill. After the time is up, the players switch roles.

This shooting drill provides valuable practice for any shooter, regardless of talent-level. The shooter must move, set their feet and find a repeatable release. Even the other player gets reps at securing rebounds and making solid passes.

This drill can incorporate internal competition as well. The two partnered players can compete with one another, or with another pair at another hoop.

RELATED: Basketball Competitive Practice Games


Basketball Shooting Drills: Team Spot Shooting

Team Spot Shooting is one of the most valuable basketball shooting drills. This practice sequence emphasizes form shooting and positioning, all within the framework of a team competition.

This drill involves a set number of players progressing through a series of shots on the floor. The group might start at the short corner, then move to the elbow, free throw, opposite elbow and opposite short corner. In order to progress to the next spot, the group needs to make a designated number of shots in a row. Once the group has made three from the short corner, for example, they move to the elbow. But if they miss at the elbow, a coach can signal either that the team runs or returns to the previous spot.

This drill can be redesigned as a practice game as well.

Related: Basketball Pre-Game Warm Up Drills


Basketball Shooting Drills

Basketball Shooting Drills
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