Diamond Reaction Passing Drill

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Avoid Slow and Frustrating Starts to Games by Using this Drill During Warm Ups

Do your teams ever have sluggish starts and you wish you could wake them up!?!?

Every coach has experienced this problem... some more so than others.

We found a simple solution to the problem.

The key is to get your players both physically and mentally warmed up with the proper drills. Most warm up drills will get players physically warm. However very few get players MENTALLY locked in.

The mental stimulation is key.

So choose drills that mentally challenge your players and get them locked in. Here's an example of a drill that thoroughly warms players up both physically and mentally. . .

Diamond Reaction Passing Drill

This drill was introduced to us by Scott Moody, Founder and CEO of AthleteFIT. It's one of many drills utilized at our Athletic Development Camps.

Scott picked up the drill from a national championship youth soccer team -- they used the drill before each game and it worked. . .

This team was known for fast starts -- almost always scoring their first goal within 2 minutes of the match!

Drill Summary

This passing drill is not only a great skill drill but also requires quick decision making -- waking up the mind and getting the heart rate up.

This is a proven pre-game warm up drill that helps teams get off to fast starts! It will get players warmed up and mentally locked in for a fast start.

It can also be used as a skill building drill during practice.

Part 1 - Cut to Right

There are several variations of this drill. This is the simplest variation to start with.

You need four players in a diamond shape. Designate a "runner". In the diagrams, player 4 is the runner.

The runner will run toward the ball, receive the pass, and pass right back.

The runner then cuts to the right. The player in the right spot must then move to the open spot.

The receiver must pass the opposite direction to get the ball across from the runner again.

You can see in this diagram the ball is now across from the runner again and you are ready to repeat the sequence.

The runner (4) runs to the ball, receives a pass, and passes right back.

The runner (4) then immediately cuts to the right. Player 1 then moves to the open spot.

And player 3 passes to player 2 (the opposite direction of the runner). This pass balances the drill as the ball always need to start across from the runner.

Once the runner gets a few reps, designate a new runner. Continue until every players gets a chance to be the runner. You can rotate after a set amount of time, set number of passes, or when you feel they are ready.

You can see our 9 year old girls running the drill for the first time here:


These were some of the better reps and as you can see there is a lot of hesitation and thought. Even the most basic version of this drill is mentally challenging. . . especially for young kids.

But as you can see, the speed picks up in this video. . .

Here are some middle school players running the drill on day 2 of our athletic development camp. (These players are cutting either left or right, as explained in part two below).

As you can see they are running the drill much faster. Yet with experience, improved skilled and better reaction times, the drill can be run much faster.

The faster the better.

One key is for the runner to quickly check in and out without hesitation. And make quick passes. This will make the drill move quickly. The runner is key!

Part 2 - Cut Left or Right

Once players get comfortable with the basic version of the drill, you can progress to this more challenging version of the drill.

Now the drill is exactly the same, however, the runner can cut to either the left or the right.

The passer now has to make a quick read and pass the opposite direction the runner cuts to. And the other players need to fill the empty spots.

This is where the mental stimulation starts kicking in. You have to make reads and decisions.

Key to the Drill

The key is for the runner to cut in and back out very quickly. . . without hesitation. The faster the better.


You can add variations to the drill by requiring bounce passes only, no look passes only, and allow players to use creative passes (behind back, through legs, etc).

You can set goals for players and challenges groups of 4 during practice. See which group can complete the most passes without a mistake in 1 minute.

More passing drills: 21 Basketball Passing Drills - For Coaches

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


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Nanda says:
6/9/2020 at 4:57:49 AM

Fantastic drill. I am teaching it to my 10-year-old girl players and they love it. I hope to introduce the challenges once they get the hang of it.
Thanks for sharing it.


Jeff Haefner says:
8/20/2014 at 8:00:11 AM

I should also point out that you should run this drill in practice few times before trying in a pre-game warm up.

I would not want to teach this for first time before a game. It will be a mess at first and takes a little time for players to learn.

But one of the fun parts is that is can look really impressive...

Parents, players, and the other coaches will have no idea what or how they are doing it. Coaches will ask you.... "how does that drill work?!?! I have watched it over and over and I can't figure it out!"

It can be intimidating if you can run it quickly and sometimes you find your opponent is watching your team instead of warming up. :)


Jeff Haefner says:
8/20/2014 at 7:54:35 AM

Chris - Thanks for asking that question. I realized that I didn't specify so I added the following instructions to the drill:

"Once the runner gets a few reps, designate a new runner. Continue until every players gets a chance to be the runner. You can rotate after a set amount of time, set number of passes, or when you feel they are ready."


Chris Brown says:
8/19/2014 at 3:43:25 PM

Looks like a nice mental drill, but to me player 4 is getting most of the work. How do you get others involved with the running to middle / right. After a complete diamond, switch spots?


Ken Sartini says:
8/19/2014 at 11:12:11 AM

If I thought my team was lethargic during warm ups we would start the game pressing, anything to get their competitive juices flowing



Jeff Haefner says:
8/19/2014 at 9:41:55 AM

Troy - If you have 10 players, you can have two groups of 5 going at the same time. One player rotates in after X reps or a set amount of time (1 minute).

Or instead you can have 4 players do the passing drill and 6 players do lay ups, form shoot, or do anything at the basket. Rotate 2 new players in the passing drill every minute or two.

At first you'll have to monitor and rotate them. But once you get them a routine to follow, they can follow the routine on their own.


Troy McKenna says:
8/19/2014 at 9:26:31 AM

Same question, if I have 10 players, how do I use this drill to warm up the team?

I like the drill for training in groups of 4, just not sure what the 9th and 10 th player can do...


Kenneth Anderson says:
8/19/2014 at 8:46:56 AM

I will definitely use this drill. it seems to be one that will stimulate my athletes very well.


Tom Lilly says:
8/19/2014 at 8:44:07 AM

How does this work in a pregame warm up. If you have more than 1 person in a line.


Oded Friedman says:
8/19/2014 at 6:39:21 AM

Great drill.but I don't understand the connection to a fast start? We can't alwayes be sure that mental thaugness will give us strong start.game situation is alwayes somthing else


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