One challenge that both coaches and players face is finding drills that are age appropriate. As players grow, the drills they have been using can become monotonous and not challenging enough. At the same time, you don’t want to use drills that are over a player’s head and frustrate or discourage them. It seems that you are in a mode of constantly searching for new drills. The solution is to find drills that work on the skills you want to develop that are adaptable to all ages.
All guards at every age should do these four drills in their workouts. Each one can be adapted to keep it challenging for where the player currently is, but not so much as to be impossible to execute.
I have seen guards who concentrated so much on handling the basketball and “running the show” that they neglected to work on their scoring. Yes, a lot of the basketball drills for guards involve dribbling the basketball, but you have to work on shooting, your shooting range so that you can become a three point threat, and your free throws. If you aren’t a threat to score, the defense doesn’t have to work to guard you and that will end up hurting your team.
1. Half court dribbling. This basketball drill is one that guards at every level should use. Players will dribble as absolutely positively hard as they can in the half court with their head up and using as many moves as they can such as hesitation, between the legs, pullback dribble, etc…
The options for the drill should be selected based on the players’ age and ability level. The drill can be done with either one or two basketballs and can be done for 30, 60, or 90 seconds. Regardless of how long you do the drill for or how many basketballs you are using, if the player does not go all out, the drill will not be effective. Going all out will cause the player to lose control of the ball several times during the drill, but that is an expected part of the improvement process.
2. 1 on 2 dribbling. One player dribbles against two defenders. For beginning players, dribble from baseline to half court and the defense cannot reach for the ball, they can only move their feet and may grab the basketball if the dribbler loses it. As players progress out of this level, allow the defense to use their hands to bother the dribbler.
Level 3 is to set dribbling full court against the two defenders as the objective for the drill. Depending on what you are wanting to work on with the player, you can allow the defense to push and hold the dribbler (nothing dirty or that would cause injury) but enough to practice dribbling through contact when an official doesn’t see or doesn’t call a foul. The final part of the drill is having the guard take the ball to the basket to score.
3. Back Dribble. Basketball drills for guards don’t have to be fancy, they need to be effective in developing the skills that lead to better performance in games. Developing the ability to backup up while dribbling and still see where the other players are is a skill found in top guards.
Start with young players just pulling the basketball back in a straight line while looking forward. An intermediate player should start at one elbow, back up at an angle to the top of the key, cross over and dribble forward to the other elbow. Then, repeat in the opposite direction. Essentially, they are dribbling in a v shape. Advanced players should start behind the 3 point arc, dribble into the lane and back dribble out behind the arc.
4. Finishing. Again to emphasize the point, guards must be able to score which includes penetrating and being able to finish at the basket. Being a threat to score forces the defense to help and opens up passes. Guards must be able to finish with both hands on both sides of the baskets. Work on jumping off two feet at once and by jumping off both the right and left feet individually. When players are ready, run a 2 on 1 drill where the guard penetrates and has another offensive player on the opposite side of the lane.
The one defender should mix up the way he plays the penetration. At times, jump the guard and force a pass to the other offensive player. At times, fake at the perpetrator and jump back to the open player. That forces the guard to learn to make decisions for when to pass and when to finish themselves.
For a player, you are better off trying a higher level for these drills than you feel you are capable of handling. You can always move back a level if you need to. But, if you do drills that don’t push you out of your comfort zone, you won’t improve. For coaches, it is a little more work, but to really do what is best to develop your guard play, you need to make individualized programs for each of your players so that they are doing drills that are suited for their current skill level. It is more work, but will go a long way toward improving your team.