Blog Archives

Basketball Insight & Drills from Indiana’s Tom Crean

Notes taken from the 2012 Brayden Carr Foundation Coaching Clinic. Indiana University Men’s Basketball Coach Tom Crean spoke on numerous aspects of basketball and gave a few of his favorite finishing drills!


  • When talking and/or thinking about motivation, remember that long-term memory with this generation of players is only about 3 days. You must inspire them to become self-motivated!
  • How do you get your message across / Keep your players’ attention spans? Recommended the book “100 Things a Presenter Needs to Know About People”
  • He likes guys that have worked their way up through this business. No silver spoons, just hard work!
  • One of this favorite quotes from Jim Calhoun, “Within the first 20 minutes of walking into your practice, I should know what you stand for”.


  • Of His Staff (Each day in practice)
    1. Intensity
    2. Enthusiasm
  • Of His Players (Each day in practice)
    1. Come mentally prepared to work
    2. Come with energy
    3. Come ready to compete
The Will to Compete
  • If you think working hard is going to do it, you’re wrong. You need to compete!
  • It hurts more to lose than it feels good to win.

Being in an Offensive Stance

  • Everyone talks about the defensive stance, but you never hear how one’s body alignment  should be offensively.
  • Not sure you can do anything offensively with even feet. On the catch, you should always have staggered feet.
  • On the drive: Play low, drop your shoulders and push the ball out in front.

Finishing Drills


Players start with the ball (Staggered Feet) and throw a bounce pass to the coach who taps it back to them (Sometimes a good pass and sometimes bad). Players must step into the pass, drop their inside shoulder and push the ball out and finish through contract from a pad.


Under Finishers

Player starts with the ball and he passes it to the coach who passes it back. The player rips the ball baseline and drives underneath the rim (through the pad of the coach and underneath the rim) to finish on the other side of the rim as a coach whack down with an arm pad. The player puts back any misses (next guy in line waits for him to score).



Under Finishers with Weakside Defense

The player catching and driving now reads the Weakside Defense to see if X4 will help or not. If he does, then he throws a pass to 4 relocation to the corner. On 4’s catch, the pass will make a half-circle underneath the rim to get to the weakside for the rebound. If X4 stays home on 4, than 1 finishes the lay-up.



Contact Drives

Players catch the ball and make their dribble move as they approach the coach with the pad (eyes up, shoulders dropped). He watches for shoulders, eyes and where the feet are when they make contact with the pad (getting the lead foot to face the rim). Drive at the defender’s body and off their shoulder.



Miscellaneous Thoughts

  • Yell when you get hit attacking the rim
  • For some reason players think they only need to jump high on dunks; Make sure they are fighting for air space (Jumping as high as they can on their lay-ups).
  • No saving yourself, practice with a high level of intensity.
  • If does not matter if you are open, it only matters if the ball handler can see you.
  • Pete Carrill: “The quality of the pass leads directly to the quality of the shot.”
  • Practice as many game-like dribbles moves as possible. At Indiana he stresses the Hesitation, Inside-Out, and Crossover moves.
  • If a player is struggling attacking with their weak hand, take a look at their shoulders. On left hand drives it is all about how low your right shoulder can get.

Coaching: Find the WHY in Everything You Do!

After speaking at length with my good friend Brendan Suhr yesterday and reading J.P. Clark’s phenomenal article this morning I wanted to touch base a little bit on WHY I coach and WHY I share so much on my website for free.

From before I was able to walk I had a basketball in my hands. As the son of a lifelong coach I spent the majority of my evenings and weekends in the gym watching my dad coach basketball. The work ethic and passion for the game that I received from my father is invaluable. Whether he was coaching his own players or running his many camps or leagues, his goal was to teach and to make every player better every single day.

Coaching is in my blood! I absolutely love coaching. I love critiquing players during practice and teaching them what I have learned to help them grow their own games. However, as much as I love running a practice and improving as a team, I actually love doing individual instruction even more. Individual instruction, or working out guys, is a special time that allows you to teach and create a bond with your player(s). As Brendan Suhr and Kevin Eastman say, “…Taking players to a level that they cannot take themselves.” What I love most about individual skill work is the player(s) are hungry to get better and WANT to be there. The key word being WANT! They want to put the work in, they want to be pushed, they want to sweat, they want to succeed, they want to get better! In today’s evolving game it is rare to find young players who want to put the skill work in to improve. I am very fortunate at Fort Myers High School to have some special players who want to put in the work every single day of the week; and it will pay off for them next season.

On to my next topic…

Last week while I was at the University of Florida Team Camp I ran into a good friend who coaches in the Gainesville area. I was very humbled to learn that he is a daily reader of my website and that occasionally ends up spending hours looking through my immense play and drill database. After talking with him for awhile, he asked me, “Have you ever thought about making your website a subscription service and charging people to be daily readers?”

My answer was simply no, it has never crossed my mind. My goal with Words On The Bounce has always been to give back as much as I can to other coaches, free of charge. I have been very blessed to be around some great coaches in my short time on earth and I want to share as much of that knowledge that I can! I am always trying to learn and grow as a professional and a coach. The relationships that I have formed with coaches  around the World just because they found my website are amazing! I love meeting other coaches who are always looking to improve at their craft. With that said, if you ever have a question or need anything specific that I can assist with, I am always here to help answer your questions. If I don’t know the answer, I will find someone who hopefully does.

During the same conversation with this coach in Gainesville he also suggested that I add some video content to my website. This is something that I have contemplated for over a year but just have not had the time. Well, I am excited to finally say that over the next few months I am going to start filming as many drills as I can think of and post them right here, free of charge!

Lastly, my personal PSA today is that if any of you are readers and live in the SW Florida area and ever want to get together to talk hoops please contact me! I love talking basketball and learning and would enjoy meeting you!