End of Game Drill
A Great Way To Get Your Players To
Perform In The Clutch

This is an excerpt from our Man to Man Defense System.

In order to get your players adjusted to end of game situations, here is a suggestion made to us by Don Kelbick (www.DonKelbickBasketball.com).

  • Split your players into two teams.

  • If you only have one assistant, you can have him coach one team while you coach the other. If you have two assistants, you can supervise or referee.

    Decide what kind of situation to work on, whether it's a close game, last minute scenario, last three minutes, or some other scenario.

  • Next, pick a situation with time and score. Let's say it's a regular game, "6 & 3."

    The game starts with the score 0-0 and 3 minutes on the clock. You start the game like a normal scrimmage by jump ball, out of bounds, etc. As soon as a team gets to 6, the clock starts. During the scrimmage, you can emphasize zone offense and defense, man-to-man offense and defense, full-court pressure, etc. Referee the game as if it were an actual game.

    If the score is 6-0, a team is down 6 points with 3 minutes left. If the score is 6-5, a team is down 1 point with 3 minutes left. Do not stop play once the team gets to 6 points; just let them know that "the clock is running."

  • During the clock period, the game is played as if it were a regular game. Each team has 1 time out, and both teams are in the bonus (1-and-1 or Two Shots, that's up to your preference).

  • As soon as the clock starts, the "scrimmage emphasis" changes to a "winning emphasis." For example, during the scrimmage portion you are working on half-court, man-to-man pressure defense; but once the clock starts, you change to a "game winning strategy." If you're up 6 with 3 minutes left, you may want to hold the ball. If you're down 6 with 3 minutes left, you may want to apply pressure.

  • You can alter the situations to suit your needs. Play 2 and 1 for a close end of game situation. Play 10 and 2 for a longer scrimmage time to work on something.

  • Treat this exactly like a game by:
          - Stopping the clock
          - Calling ALL violations
          - Calling fouls
          - Calling timeouts, etc.
We highly recommend this technique because it'll put the team in many situations that they may not have experienced. Your players' comfort level will be so much higher during a real game if they've already been put in this situation before.

We also recommend running this at the end of practice for a couple of more reasons.

  1. Players love competition and usually look forward to doing this. It's a great way to keep them motivated throughout practice.

  2. Players will be tired at the end of practice, and that is exactly what will happen at the end of a game. It makes the situation more realistic.
If you have not listened to Don's one-hour free interview with us about coaching, we highly suggest that you do. Click here

Image: download free ebook with 72 of our favorite drills

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Randy Graves says:
8/29/2013 at 2:34:20 PM

I have really enjoyed the Breakthrough Basketball Drills and Plays.

I am sixty-five years old and have recently retired from a long career in IT. However my first love has always been Basketball as I played in both HS and College.

I have given thoughts to coaching in the AAU system now that I have time and plan to use these very valuable tools you have provided.

Thanks so much and please keep up the good work.


Ken Sartini says:
8/1/2013 at 1:00:20 PM

There is an old saying.... " The center of today could be the point guard of tomorrow."

Coaches should be teaching fundamentals of the game to every player... kids grow at different times of their lives.

You can never be too good a shooter, ball handler or defender. JMO


Chad says:
8/1/2013 at 12:19:34 PM

We do what we call time and situation at the end of each practice. We decide on the situation from time, score, total fouls, individual fouls. and so on. Sometimes it is just a quick 5 second end of the game and sometimes it is 3 minutes. Just depends. This drill has made us better at the end of each quarter of our games. The kids will even yell out" time and situation"


Quebec Coach says:
5/3/2013 at 10:23:25 AM

aussie david@

your major problem is tagging a 12 yrs old a POST player.

that is a mistake.

I was 6'1" at 12 yrs old. Everybody was telling my parents that I would be a huge center player.

So we didnt emphase enough on my shooting.

at 17 yrs yrs old I was only 6'3" and Ive been cut from College.


jeffrey says:
2/5/2013 at 9:07:06 PM

this is a great idea,when it comes to crucial situation,thank''''s a lot. :-)......


Chantelle says:
10/11/2012 at 6:39:00 AM

I find your website fantastic and extremely helpful, I am using this for my Under 10s and the kids are already saying it is the best training ever, thank you :-) !!!!!!


Ken says:
2/23/2012 at 8:35:56 AM

I found something similar to this in an old coaching book in my ADs office one day while I was waiting for him to get off the phone..
From that day on I ran "situations" at the end of every practice.

Make them up as you go along to fit any situation that you believe needs to be addressed.

Another thing I used to do all the time was to look back at the last game and ask myself... what situations in the game didn't we handle well?

I would put them into the next day ( maybe 2 ) practice at the end... the kids knew why without me ragging them about messing this up.... I let them do it again without saying anything... and IF they weren't on the same page I was... I would "suggest" that they do it this way and give them the reasons why, then we would run it again.

What you are looking for is that your kids know what to do in certain situations in the game... that you don't always have to hand feed them... Of course you will probably call a time out and go over it or call out a play, whatever you feel comfortable with.

Its a great teaching tool, the kids love the competition and everybody goes home happy.


MG says:
1/6/2012 at 5:34:26 AM

I've coached on every level from fourth graders to college and you guys never cease to amaze me or help me. Love it.......Just saying.


Joe Haefner says:
8/4/2011 at 7:47:52 PM

Hi Eric,

When you have your top players (A team) scrimmage against your weaker players (B team), you can always manipulate the scoring rules to make it harder. For example, your B team gets a point when they:
- make a pass into the post.
- get the ball in the lane via dribble penetration.
- offensive rebound.
- defensive stop.


Eric Henry says:
8/4/2011 at 12:26:52 PM

this is a great drill to use during the season and a couple times before games start...1 problem i have had in the past...i coach at 1A school in iowa and we usually get 15-20 kids out grades 9-12. and for the drill to be competitive you have to split up the best players and then they are not getting the best out of the drill because they are not doing it together like in a real game. any suggestions?


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