Breakthrough Basketball Newsletter:
Before 1v1 - Use Connector Drills to Build Confidence

December 23, 2020

Before 1v1 - Use Bridge (or Connector) Drills to Build Comfort and Confidence

Note: After reading this, we have a breakdown video with drill examples at the bottom to help you better understand these concepts.

Ages: Youth, High School, College/Pro
Audience: Coaches, Parents, Players

When I first started mixing traditional workout drills and drills against live defenders, I noticed something. And you might've noticed this too.

Some players do great during the traditional workout drills with no defense. Their technical skills are proficient.

However, when you go to live drills with defenders, some players really struggle with applying the same technical skills (dribble moves, footwork, triple threat moves, shooting, etc.) to live play.

And this problem is amplified even more when they play in actual games!

As a result, some players lose confidence. This can create a terrible spiral that can destroy players that have the potential to be really good.

Obviously, we want all of our players to develop their skills, decision making, and confidence!

And here is something that helps players improve tremendously...

Rather than going directly to 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 drills with live play, you have progressions in between.

These drills act as a bridge or a connector between traditional drills without defenders and 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 drills.

These are...

Reference Defense Drill Progressions

For the offensive player, this is a great tool to build comfort and confidence in their skills with a defender present. Then progressing to learning what situations to apply these skills (decision making).

With reference defense drills, rather than playing live, the defense gives the offense a certain defensive look. The defense does not try to stop the offense.

Here is one example that you can use with close outs (you can view the video below).

The defense shows a hard close out or a soft close out. The hard close out is meant to prevent the shot. The soft close out is meant to allow the shot.

Reference Defense Progression 1 - Give One Choice

With the first progression, it's predetermined. The offensive player and defensive player both know what they're doing prior to the repetition.

The whole purpose is to get the offensive player comfortable and confident when executing the skills with a defender present.

If you start with the defender closing out hard and eliminating the shot off the catch, the offensive player attacks and executes a straight line drive with your choice of footwork.

Next, you could practice attacking soft close outs.

Now, the offensive player will catch and immediately shoot.

Progression 2 - Defense Chooses, Offense Attacks

Now, you can start building confidence in the decision making aspect.

The defensive player chooses what look to give the offensive player. The offensive player does not know ahead of time. They have to make a choice on each repetition based on the defense's position. The defensive player should pick their actions at random.

So if we're using the close out example again, the defensive player would choose between a soft close out and a hard close out.

The key here is for the offensive player to be assertive and attack. It's okay if they make the "wrong read".

You want them to learn through repetitions. If you correct too much, it will start to hinder confidence and development.

Not to mention, I believe it's better to be assertive and aggressive and occasionally make the "wrong read" off the catch than it is to be tentative and make the "right read" every time. I believe putting pressure on the defense and playing with confidence will result in better outcomes over time.

If you start to include these progressions above, I think you will see that this is a great way to build comfort and confidence prior to progressing to drills with live defenders like 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, and other disadvantage/advantage drills.

Here is a video breakdown that shows you how to do this:

View Full Video Breakdown and Article with Explanations

What do you think? Have you used these progressions before? How has it worked for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so we can share them in a future email.

All the Best,

Joe Haefner
Breakthrough Basketball