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Five Dynamic Finishing Drills

Finishing is one of the most essential skills in basketball
Finishing is one of the most essential skills in basketball
Dave Krapinski

1) Continuous Layups: This drill is perfect for individual or small group workouts, but it can also be used for larger groups if they are split into groups of four on different hoops. The coach or manager starts with the basketball on the baseline under the hoop. The player, or line of players, starts on the sideline outside the three point line in the corner. The first player sprints to the basket and the coach or manager flips the player the basketball. The player must first make a reverse layup after catching the ball and sprint to the other sideline outside the three point line. If there is only one player, he or she touches the line and sprints back to the basket, catching the flip once again finishing at the basket in a different way than the first time. In all, the players should finish five consecutive times, each time finishing with a different layup (right hand reverse, left hand reverse, wedge, wrong foot, floater, dunk, etc). If one of the players misses at any point then the group must start over.

2) One on One with Advantage: This drill is good for getting players used to making an explosive move to the basket and finishing with the pressure of a defender. There should be two lines on the baseline that each have an equal amount of players. There needs to be two cones set up just before half court, with the inside cone being 4-6 inches in front of the outside cone. The ball should be in front of the inside line and there should be no basketballs in the outside line. When the coach blows the whistle the first player in each line sprints to the cone, and goes around the cone heading back toward the basket. Because the offensive line’s cone was 4-6 inches closer than the defensive player’s cone, there is a built in advantage heading back toward the basket. The defensive player must try to chase down the offensive player, and offensive player needs to finish at the basket despite the pursuit of the defender. For better athletes this will require the players to finish at the rim, and for younger players the emphasis will be not concerning themselves with the trailing defender.

3) X Out Finishes: This drill is both a finishing drill and a defensive drill. Start with two lines underneath the basket on each side of the paint. Start with the ball at the front of one of the two lines. The player with the basketball must roll the ball to the elbow slowly and chase after the ball. The first player in the other line, simultaneously, must sprint and touch the opposite elbow. Once this action occurs, the ball handler is attacking the rim and trying to finish while the defensive player is trying to stop the basketball without fouling. This will cause the offense to finish through contact and pressure, and it will force the defensive player to hustle to get to the proper spot without fouling.

4) Downhill Finishing: The coach starts with the basketball foul line extended right outside the three point line. There needs to be one player at the three point line facing the basket and one player at the free throw line facing the other player. When the coach says go the two players run toward each other and slap hands. As the players slap hands the coach throws the ball toward half court, and the player who started outside the three point line must sprint to get the ball. While the offensive player is sprinting to get the basketball, the defensive player is sprinting to touch the baseline. Once the ball is grabbed by the offensive player he is attacking the basket, one on one, and the defensive player is stopping the basketball before it gets to the rim. This will force the offensive player to finish creatively because the only advantage he has is the fact that he will be heading downhill toward the basket. The defensive player must try to get in the best position to take a charge, block the shot, or stand straight up and get a stop.

5) War: This drill is better suited for older players, and it will let coaches separate which players are tough enough to play and which are not. Start with three players inside the paint, and the coach has the basketball at the free throw line. The coach shoots the ball, intentionally misses, and this is where the drill begins. There are no rules. The player who gets the rebound must try to finish, but the other players are allowed to foul. Make sure the drill doesn’t get out of hand, but let the players play hard. The first one to three makes wins the drill, and it is continuous until one of the players makes three layups. The three players who are battling must stay in the paint, and no shot is allowed outside the paint. Once one of the three players makes three layups, while getting fouled by the others, he is out and the sub enters the paint. This drill lets players not be concerned with contact, and it helps them finish while getting fouled. Too often players want to complain about being fouled rather than finishing the layup. This is a toughness drill, but it teaches the players good habits when things are not going their way in games.