Coaches find their practice drills from many different sources.
For Kathy Healey, girls’ basketball coach at Pittston Area High School, it was the players at her Yatesville, Pennsylvania school who introduced what is now one of her favorite drills.
“They call it ‘The Baker Drill,’” Healey said. “I don’t know if that’s the right name for it.”
Healey, who also served as head coach for a total of 16 seasons at nearby Pittston Seton Catholic and Wyoming Area, was asked by the players during the first of her seven seasons at Pittston Area if they could continue the drill. The players demonstrated the drill, Healey liked what she saw and it has become one of her favorites for the variety of purposes it fills.
“It emphasizes getting back on defense and teamwork, and it’s a conditioning drill as well,” Healey said.
Late in the drill, time and score awareness also come into play, as does being able to get off a shot in short-clock situations.
The Set Up
The players are split into two teams — in Pittston Area practices, Blue and White teams — for the purpose of the drill.
Players start on opposite ends of the floor in three lines beyond the baseline, one in the middle and one on each side.
Healey sets the scoreboard clock at five minutes and has the teams play until time expires or one scores 10 points, using standard basketball scoring.
Coaches could choose different lengths of time or point goals, but Healey likes the idea of playing the drill to win on a daily basis.
“Every drill we do, we put the clock on,” Healey said.
One team gets the ball first.
For example, if Blue starts, two players from the outside lines start a fast break. The White player from the middle line steps out and tries to defend the 2-on-1 break.
When White gains possession (after a score, by a rebound or steal or through Blue losing the ball out of bounds), White players from the two outside lines immediately join in and play progresses back in the other direction in what is now a 3-on-2 break.
When Blue gets the ball back, two more players from the outside lines join in and head back the other way on a 4-on-3.
After the drill progresses from 2-on-1 to 3-on-2 to 4-on-3, it starts over with the opposite team getting the first possession while the clock continues to run down and the score continues to be tracked.
This makes sure each team gets a chance to both attack and defend in each of the scenarios.
Healey never has to tell her players where the ball starts next.
“The kids keep track,” said Healey, whose team is the defending Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 2-4 (northeastern and northcentral) Subregional champion in Class AAAA, which is Pennsylvania’s largest schools.
“They know because they’re competitive and they want to win it.”
Adding a Twist
If a coach wants to change things up or emphasize a certain skill or open-floor move, that can be added as a requirement that must be performed before the team takes a shot on each trip up the floor.
Playing the Clock
Offensive fast break concepts are worked on naturally during the drill, which Healey said also helps her players work on getting off shots in a hurry when the clock is running out.
“For me, in situations at the end of the game, I’ve found it a lot better if I let the kids play more rather than be more structured where I’ve found they’re more robotic at times,” she said. “They’ll go right to a spot and someone will throw you the ball even though there’s three people draped all over you.
“We like to give the kids a lot of freedom as to how to score.”