The Beat the Player Dribbling Drill

The Beat the Player Dribbling Drill looks to help offensive players with their ability to progress the ball off the dribble from one end of the floor to the other as quickly as possible. The Beat the Player Dribbling Drill can be implemented either as a straight competitive challenge between the two players or as a challenge against a specific time on the clock. Within this dribbling drill, players will be asked to utilise their speed dribble while making a lay-up at pace and under pressure. When implementing the Beat the Player Dribbling Drill players over an extended period of time will also gain some advantage in conditioning and tactical awareness due to the variations which can be implemented across the drill.


A frustrating aspect of fast breaks and effective transition is when an open lay-up is missed by a player for lack composure, poise, or technique. The Beat the Player Dribbling Drill looks to provide a pressure situation in which to practice this type of scenario. By having a strong competitive theme to the dribbling drill, players will have an opportunity to practice the skill of linking a speed dribble to a two-step lay-up.


The set-up of the Beat the Player Dribbling Drill is just two lines of players at opposite end of the court. Every player (or as many as possible) should have a basketball so the activity can be run as quickly as possible.

Beat the Player Dribbling Drill Diagram 1
Beat the Player Dribbling Drill Diagram 1

On the coach’s start the first players in the lines speed dribble to the opposite end of the floor to make a lay-up.


The player who is slowest to make the lay-up loses and a penalty or reward can be attributed. A missed lay-up does not count.


Players should be encouraged to dribble the ball out in front to allow for maximum speed to be reached. The ball should never go any higher then shoulder height.


Additionally players are only allowed one dribble and two steps from which to cover the area to the basket once inside the three-point line. This will help players to become comfortable with making this difficult shot at pace.


If you find a player is having particular trouble with the lay-up discuss teaching points such as:


  • Where the player is looking once they pick the ball up
  • Where is the ball to be positioned to help with control once picked up
  • The use of a “soft touch” when pushing the ball off the backboard


Playing Against the Clock


Within a team, there can sometimes be those players who are just too quick for the other members of the squad so never have to push themselves to win consistently. One option in this situation is have players compete against the clock. A players instead of trying to beat their teammate on the opposite end of the floor, will be given a specific time in which to make the lay-up. This is especially useful when also trying to increase the pace of the teams dribbling overall.


Once players become comfortable with what needs to happen as part of the dribble, a coach will be able to increase the repetitions by starting the next group of players once those teammates before them have crossed halfway.


A variation to the Beat the Player Dribbling Drill that can be very effective is to add a defender to the drills procedure. Initially, start with a fixed area in which the defender is to occupying. However, later this can be changed to the full length of the court.

Beat the Player Dribbling Drill Diagram 2
Beat the Player Dribbling Drill Diagram 2

Ensure defenders and offensive players never cross the split line or collisions may occur.


In the diagram above, the cones have been placed so the defenders have to work between three-point line to three-point line.


The offensive players are still competing against themselves or the clock, so this aspect does not change. If using a clock be sure to initially add some additional time so players have an opportunity to achieve success before reducing this at reasonable intervals to maintain the drills challenge.


Another variation which can be used within the Beat the Player Dribbling Drill is to change the type of shot to be used by the players. There is no reason a jump shot from a specific area cannot be incorporated to assist with specific skill or tactical development. If using a different shooting technique, the repetition does not finish until one of the players score off the rebound if they miss. Players will be allowed to rebound their shot and then make a lay-up to finish the repetition.


If working with younger players chairs can also be used as stationary defenders so the players have an opportunity to practice different dribbles to breakdown the hypothetical defender. Just remember to progress quickly to “live” defenders as there are usually not too many chairs on court during games playing defence…


The Beat the Player Dribbling Drill looks to promote speed while making a quality scoring opportunity at the end of the fast break or broken play scenario. For some teams this may be good for an improvement of six to ten points during an average game.

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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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