By Dave Stricklin
Players need to be constantly looking for ways to improve their existing skill sets while adding additional skills in order to become more effective all around threats. One of the most forgotten or neglected areas of skill development deals with playing inside the paint. Whether you are a veteran post player used to battling around the rim or whether you are a perimeter player looking to make a bigger impact on your team, the following fundamental post drills will help you improve around the basket.
1. Mikans. This drill is named after George Mikan, the game’s first dominant big man and has been used to develop inside scorers for approximately 70 years. The drill consists of facing the basket, shooting a short right handed hook shot, catching the ball out of the net, shooting a short left handed hook shot and repeating the sequence over and over. Two variations include Reverse Mikans, where the shooter stands underneath the basket facing the free throw line and performs the Mikan drill from that position; and Side Steps where the shooter executes a power layup, catches the ball out of the net, performs a side step to the opposite side of the rim and shoots another shot with his opposite hand. Like the original Mikan drill, Reverse Mikans and Side Steps are performed continuously for a certain amount of time or a certain number of made shots.
2. Tip Drill. Start by throwing the ball of the board and tipping it in first with your right hand and then with your left hand. Then throw the ball off the board, tip it once back off the board and then tip it again into the basket. Eventually work your way up to the point where you can tip it 5 or 6 times off the board and then into the basket. Work both hands as this is a great drill for improving both timing and ball control.
3. Put Backs. Throw the ball off the board, rebound it with both hands and bring the ball down to shoulder level. Immediately explode back up towards the basket and shoot a put back high off the top of the square. Do not ever bring the ball down below your shoulders. To make this more challenging, have a coach, manager or teammate hit you with a pad while going back up with your shot.
4. Head & Shoulders. This is the same drill as above but now includes an exaggerated pump fake with your head and shoulders before shooting the ball. Like the drill above work both sides of the basket and use both hands.
5. Superman. Begin by standing outside the free throw lane near the big block. (The older and more athletic you are, the farther away you can start.) Throw the ball high off the back board, rebound it on the other side of the rim, and land with both feet outside the lane. Repeat the sequence going back and forth for at least 30 seconds. As a variation, rebound the ball on the other side of the rim, execute a strong pump fake and then shoot a power layup.
Remember, these are fundamental drills that will help anyone looking to improve their inside scoring. In a future article we will discuss 5 more post development drills that are a little more advanced.