Developing A Basketball Workout For High School & College Tryouts

By Don Kelbick


Is there any way that you could send a workout schedule using your drills in order to be ready for some basketball try-outs in April? I’m a 6’2 guard and will go to college because of my shot. I really need to work on dribbling, defense, speed, and quickness in order to be up and going at the college level.

I know I said I’m going to college because of my shot, but I’d still love to continue to get my shot better and better.  I’d appreciate it if you could come up with a workout routine for me, even if it’s the same workout repeated daily or a 3 or 4 day different routine.


It is difficult to come up with a workout program without seeing you play or knowing how much time you have to work. I can give you some guidelines that might help you.

  • You can’t work on everything at once. It is counterproductive because you don’t spend enough time working on anything to improve. Pick a couple of things you want to get better at and develop a plan. In general, it will take 6-8 weeks for any adjustments or new skills to take root. Probably longer in competition, so you have to stick to it.
  • After you decide what you want to work on, pick some basketball drills in sets that you think will help you. What I mean by that is to pick 3 drills that are progressions (eg. jump shot, 1 dribble move, 2 dribble move) and that is a set. Work that set several days in a row. Then change to a different set.  Same thought, but different drills so you have some variation in your workout to fight boredom. After using the new sets for a couple of days, go back to the original set. Keep that rotation for a while.   As you gain more confidence and improvement, you can start to put in some new sets to work on different skills.  Remember, it takes more time to develop a skill than to maintain a skill. So as you move on, occasionally throw in some old stuff to maintain those skills as well.
  • Be honest with yourself as to how much you practice. If you are alone every time you shoot the ball, you also have to rebound it. So, in reality, if you practice shooting for an hour, you are really spending 15 minutes shooting and 45 minutes chasing the ball. Make use of every minute you are on the court. Multi-task, but don’t mix skills. I use ball-handling drills to stretch out. I also use it to condition. You can use defensive drills as conditioners. That is what I mean by multi-tasking. However don’t mix skills. Don’t practice your dribble while practicing your shooting. There are no moves that will have you put the ball through your legs 3 times, change direction 4 times, spin twice and end up with a jump shot.  Then, the only thing you are practicing is ways to spend time on the bench.

For The Frustrated Coaches That Turn to Zone Defense

By Joe Haefner

This article is meant for coaches at all levels, especially youth, junior high, and junior varsity.

If you have ever gotten frustrated with your man to man defense and decided to use zone because it was easier to implement, I had an experience early in my coaching career where being persistent with the fundamentals and using the long-term approach paid off.

When I was a senior in college, I had an accounting internship close to my hometown and decided to become an assistant coach for the freshmen basketball team at my former high school.  I was an assistant to my Dad.  

At the beginning of the season, he had gotten frustrated because he couldn’t get the kids to play man to man defense and decided to go play some zone. Haven’t we all been there?

At the beginning of the season, we played a team called Marion from Iowa that was quite talented. We got trounced by something like 67-22. The funny thing is that it could’ve been much worse.

So my dad and I met, because we wanted to figure out what was best for the team.  We decided when we modified our short-term and long-term plans that we would always ask ourselves…

What can we do to prepare this team for the varsity level?

Who cares about wins and losses, how much we get beat by, and what any of the parents and spectators think.  What can we do to make this team better in the long-run?

We knew that we had to focus on man to man defense and fundamentals of the game.  We also had to spend time TEACHING the game rather than just running tons of drills.  

We knew even if they wanted to play zone at the varsity level, they needed to have these fundamentals pounded into them in order to be successful.

There’s a saying that goes “If you can’t play man, you can’t play zone.”

Some coaches believe that they can hide poor defenders within a zone. Sometimes, this is true, but when you face a quality opponent, they will exploit your poor defensive players.  Also, a zone isn’t very effective if you can’t stop the ball. 

So, we knew that man to man defense was the right way to go.

Day to day we saw little improvements and all of the sudden those little improvements turned into a huge improvement over the season.

Well, it comes to the end of the season and guess who we get to face. The same undefeated Marion team that smoked us by 45 points at the beginning of the year. This was a totally different game.  We were staying between the man and the hoop when playing the ball, communicating, rotating on defense, and forcing low-percentage shots.

All of the sudden, it’s the 4th quarter and we’re winning by 2 points!! Unfortunately, some balls didn’t roll our way and we ended up losing by 4 points. It was like 46 – 42 or something like that.

When I was riding home, I just got goosebumps all over, because it felt so good to see that team which had such little confidence at the beginning of the year learn that they could compete with anybody by playing the right way.

Four years later, the same group of kids ended up beating that same Marion team for the first time! I believe Marion was ranked 6th in the state at the time.

Was part of that rooted back to when we pounded the fundamentals in them when they were Freshmen? I like to think so.

Stay persistent and focus on the fundamentals of the game. It may not pay off today. It may not pay off this season. It may not pay off next year, but it will pay off in the long-run.

If you would like to learn more about defense and how to build your defense from the ground up, take a look at our Man to Man Defense System.