3 In a Line Toss Drill

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The following drill is a popular advantage game for young basketball players. This competitive drill improves offense, defense, spacing, passing, decision making, cutting and more.

It's fun and great for skill development. We highly recommend this drill for all youth coaches.

This drill was submitted by Coach Mike on a youth coaching article on Jeff Haefner's Coaching Blog.

Step 1:

The drill begins with three players in a line. Player 1 starts one step below the free throw line. Players 1 & 2 will be on offense and player 3 will be on defense.

Player 1 tosses the ball out to the top of the key and chases down the ball.

Step 2:

Once player one chases down the ball, he/she catches the ball on a jump stop facing away from the basket. He/she then pivots, faces the hoop, looks to attack, and makes a decision.

Player 2 sprints to the left or right three point line, away from his/her teammate to create spacing.

Player 3 decides if he/she will run out to stop the ball or defend the wing player.

Step 3:

Depending on where the defense decides to play, the player with the ball must read the situation. If he/she is not defended, the read is to drive. If the ball is defended, the read could be to pass to the wing or drive (attack the close out).

At the same time, player 2 has to read the defense from the wing. If he/she is not defended, the read could be to cut to the basket. If he/she is covered, the read could be to stay wide to create spacing.

Step 4:

The players locate the reads and the drill continues with the offense trying to score and the defense trying to stop the ball.

Initially, the drill is taught to have the defense rush out and guard player 1 to show player 2 an open basket to cut towards.

You can switch it up to have the defense rush out to the wing to show player one that they have a driving lane.

Variation - 5 in a Line Toss Drill

Once the drill is learned using three players, you can add two players to create more reads. With five players, the drill is run the exact same way. The offense will always have a one player advantage (3 vs 2).

Summary and Points of Emphasis

We highly recommend this drill for all youth coaches. It's fun and gives you lots of teaching opportunities. By putting the offense at an advantage, you create lots of decision making situations that players will see in a game.

Some of the things you can teach and emphasize include:

  • Catch and face the basket in triple threat... looking to score first.

  • If you get stopped, pass to the open player.

  • If you're off the ball, maintain spacing in correlation to the ballhandler. And cut to the open spot. This is a great drill for teaching spacing and teaching players what to do as the ball moves.

  • Look to attack aggressively and make quick decisions.

  • Show the defense how to change things up to create new situations and cause the offense to make different decisions.

You can also add additional rules to change the dynamics of the game and/or emphasize specific points that you feel are important. For example, you could require a shot with in 8 seconds, limit to 2 passes, start in the corner, etc. There is no limit to this game and how you use it to develop your players and teach offensive fundamentals.

Keep it Simple and Allow them to Make Mistakes

As a coach, we think it's important to give players freedom and allow them to make mistakes. Over-coaching only leads to player indecision, too much thought, and lack of confidence. If you, as a coach, can focus on emphasizing aggressiveness and spacing -- then most of the other stuff will work out on its own.

Try not to control and correct too much. Choose your teaching spots. Give players chances to work things out and come up with solutions on their own. That is often a better way to learn (self discovery).

Please leave your comments, suggestions, and questions below...


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Carlos Magaņa says:
11/18/2014 at 10:12:44 PM

Great way to work on foundational skills. Keep the great drills coming Joe. Might not be new to some but it really helps a coach trying to develop his "bag" of drills.


Joe Haefner says:
5/29/2014 at 3:05:26 PM

Thanks, Mike. I really like that.


Mike says:
5/29/2014 at 2:13:57 PM

Hi Joe: I also strongly recommend using the 5 in a Line Toss Drill in the full-court. It is a great decision-making drill that reinforces spacing in the full-court.

Start the 5 players (O1, O2, O3, O4, O5) at one end in the line starting at the foul line. O1 begins with the ball and will toss the ball towards the baseline and then go and recover it with the jump stop and then turn and face the opposite end of the floor. As the ball is tossed O2 goes out wide and fill one wing and O3 runs and fills the opposite wing. O4 and O5 are the defenders and will defend in any way they want (again we do not teach the defenders what to do as we want the offence to get different reads. O1 quickly reads the defence and attacks the opposite end by dribbling or passing ahead.

Once O4 and O5 recover the ball (after basket, OB, turnover they attack back against O1, O2, and O3.


Ben Akoi says:
5/22/2014 at 2:42:09 PM

Like my old college coach use to say "don''''t reinvent the wheel just twink it a little". Good drill, it''''s effective to stimulate game situation.


Joe Haefner says:
5/18/2014 at 9:37:59 AM

"New" is meant to be new to the website or new to the newsletter. By no means, do we mean we've created these drills from scratch. People want to know the difference between a drill they've already seen on our site and ones they have not.

I don't know a shorter and simpler way to express this than using the word "new", especially with the limited characters you can place in an email subject.

Appreciate the feedback and sorry for the confusion.


Ken Sartini says:
5/18/2014 at 8:46:09 AM

Coach -

There are so many drills available that there is no way that you can know all of them. This is just ONE of the GREAT sites on the net that have information for old and new coaches alike.

Sometimes as coaches we can look at something and say, "If I change this a little bit, it will fit my needs perfectly,"

You are right about changing names, some of the "new" offenses have been around forever, maybe with just a twist to it.


coach John S. Great Neck New York says:
5/18/2014 at 7:22:40 AM

Thank for the "new" drill called "3 in Lne Drill'. I have been coaching youth basketball for 20 years and am always looking for "new" drills and things to keep the practices fresh. Reading your material failed in presenting something new. Your drills are a rehash of what coaches have been teaching for all time --- you simply change the name. This is why you loose credibility among the older coaches. yes, you will get the info out to the needy new coaches which is badly needed. But let's add that your material is not new and say that the concept has been around for many years.


Simon says:
5/13/2014 at 7:43:33 PM

Looks like a good drill.

I coach 13 year old boys who love to play rather than doing drills and exercises. I think this will appeal to their competitive nature.

I like that it allows them to make decisions and it keeps everyone involved in the drill with fast rotations of the teams.

Starting with the ball in the corner helps to mix it up and changing to 3 on 2 also increases the level of complexity and decision making on both offence and defence.


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