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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.

Post Figure 8 Drill

This is a great drill that helps your post players improve on their footwork, hand-eye coordination, and finishing around the rim. Put 1 minute on the clock for this drill and have each player perform the drill 3 times.

Elements to Emphasize:

  1. Staying low and wide
  2. Keeping hands up (goal post or H)
  3. Catch and score quickly


Cone Handle Shots Drill

I love this drill because it works on several components of improvement all at once:

Ball Handling: Force your players out of their comfort zone and to dribble lower and quicker each time, that is the only way to improve

Footwork: Creating space and finishing with the least amount of dribbles

Finishing Through/Over/Around the Defense: This drill consists of a multiple of different types of shots and finishes that are great to add to your players’ repertoire.






Backboard Tap Drill (2 Hands)

Yesterday I posted the Backboard Tap Drill (1 Hand), today’s drill takes a little more strength and athleticism. This drill forces your players to learn how to grab a rebound with 2 hands and then explode back up without bringing the ball down. If the player brings the ball below their shoulders have a coach/manager/players smack the ball out of their hands.

backboardKeep bouncin…

Backboard Tap Drill (1 Hand)

This is an excellent drill that teaches your bigs to have a soft touch around the rim and have better ball control by improving hand-eye coordination.

Player starts by tossing the ball against the backboard and then continues to tap the ball (jumping) off the backboard with one hand. (Left hand on left side, Right hand on right side). Goal is to successfully make 10 taps in a row and then finish with a made lay-up. If the lay-up is missed you must start over.

backboardKeep bouncin…

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