How to Teach Guards to "See the Floor" - With 9 Practice Drills
It's critical for every great guard to be able to see the floor. It reduces turnovers and you score more points!
You can see if a defender is rushing over to trap you.
You can see a teammate cutting to the goal.
You can see an opening that is only there for 1/2 a second, that way you recognize it before it's too late!
You can see open driving lanes and know when and where to attack.
You just make better decisions with the ball!
Note, we're assuming that the player has developed essential dribbling skills. This article covers these skills in more detail: 5 Things You Need To Know To Be a Great Ball Handler
1 - Practice Dribbling with Defenders Guarding You!
I've worked with players who looked like they had the ball on a string. They could do everything with the ball!
However, the second you put them on the floor with defenders, they didn't recognize what the defense was doing, they couldn't find open teammates, and turned the ball over way too much!
It was quite obvious that they were very uncomfortable the moment you added defenders. Well, that's because they never practice their dribbling skills with defenders guarding them!
And if you are uncomfortable or stressed, your vision narrows and you might even put your head down so you don't lose the ball!
There is even some research that says your biomechanics change when defenders are added to a situation! The alignment and angles of your joints and muscles all change when you move... just by adding a defender to the same situation.
So the first step is to feel comfortable dribbling the ball when someone is guarding you!
So you should...
- Play plenty of 1v1, 1v2, and 2v2 ball handling drills with defenders present.
- Practice against defenders of all shapes, sizes, and athletic ability. You learn what you can do against different types of players that you face during the game.
- Even with the youngest players, you need to spend about 50% of your ball handling time utilizing defenders. You can progress from a light defense where the defender can't steal to even using multiple defenders on one offense player.
With high school, college, and pro teams, you might spend 80% to 100% of your drills with defenders.
2 - Must Play the Game and Get Experience!
In practice, you should do plenty of 3v3, 4v4, 5v5, 7v5, and other pressure variations. And you need to play the game!
However, this is just something that takes time and experience.
I started writing this section and had it almost finished. I went to do a little research for missing parts that I may have forgotten to mention.
Then I came across this advice from Don Kelbick. He said it much better than I could have. So I erased everything that I wrote and just posted his advice below. It's great stuff!
- As a coach or observer, you see the game the way you do for 3 reasons...
2. Experience, this has taught you what to do with the knowledge you have gained.
3. You (the coach or parent) are on the outside of the play so you do not have to deal with the stress of having people running around and putting pressure on you.
Inside of those 3 concepts lie your answer.
First, you must understand that there is no substitute for experience and that takes time.
Be patient and take your kids through as many situations as possible, as often as possible.
Second, teach. Teach the game, not just plays or skills. Teach them concepts such as spacing and situations.
Ask them to study their teammate's abilities and tendencies.
They should know that if Billy is a great shooter and he is coming off a screen, they should look to him first, Joey can't catch in a crowd so don't throw him the ball in the lane but Sam has great hands if you throw it to him high.
Teach them that on ball reversal, the best scoring opportunities come away from the pass.
For example, a pass from the right wing to the top, your best scoring opportunity will come to the left. This way, not only do they beat the defense but they get to scan the entire floor.
Teach them that they see the entire floor by looking at the rim. There are so many other things that can't be covered here but they are simple and become instinctual in a very short period of time.
I think the third aspect is the most important of all. If you have done any study in the psychology of learning, you will learn "stress narrows the perceptual field."
The more stress the player is under, the narrower his field of vision becomes. You must remove the stress from the learning process.
Instead of pointing out the error, give better alternatives. Include them in the process, "What would have been a better pass and why?" Let them correct their own mistakes, give them a few tries before you jump in. Interrupt them on the positive plays and point it out to everyone instead of stopping them on an error and jumping them.
More functionally, be sure that when you teach one player, teach them all. If you are teaching your point guard, your posts should be learning as well. They do play together.
Also, work on skills. A player does a better job of seeing the floor when he is not worried about his dribble. He is a better passer if he is not worried about catching.
These are only a few simple things that you might want to consider. Just remember that it will take time. Players are constantly changing and the game is a fluid entity. Give your players the tools to adapt and they will surprise you.
9 Practice Drills: Ball Handling, Passing, & Decision
Here are some practice drills that you can use to improve your ball handling, passing, and decision making.
Practice drills with less than 4 players:
Practice drills with 5 or more players:
Let us know what you think! Was this helpful? Do you have some other ideas and tips that help players see the floor?!