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. So here’s a look at some competitive games to try at your next basketball practice.

Competitive Games in Basketball Practice: 4-on-4 Cut Throat

4-on-4 Cut Throat stands as a favorite drill among young players because of its game-like nature. For coaches, 4-on-4 Cut Throat provides each basketball practice with the opportunity to stress and develop specific elements of the game.

4-on-4 Cut Throat is a high-energy, high-movement drill. Coaches divide their teams into sets of four, with two groups on the floor at all times. Through each progression, players navigate the possession, looking to score or get a stop. As each possession ends, the successful team (the one that scored or made the stop) stays on the floor, while the losing group comes off. The waiting team comes on and fills the vacancy.

Coaches can allow the players to free play, or can install specific needs in a possession. The free-flowing nature of the drill allows players to learn on the fly. Whatever a coach decides to emphasize in the drill often translates directly to the game.

Emphasis: Build solid offensive and defensive habits. The hidden value remains the opportunity for coaches to provide direct instruction to the teams that lose a possession. As the losing team comes off the floor, a coach can immediately pull them aside and talk through what went wrong while the other two teams progress through the drill.

Competitive Games in Basketball Practice: 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.

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.

Related: Competitive Shooting Drills


Coach Unplugged Podcast: 

Youth Player Development

Ep: 1075 Winning Practices and Competitive Practices

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