Important Scrimmage Thoughts to Consider

1. Organizing & Planning

How much time and planning do you put into practice scrimmages?

Scrimmaging, just like the rest of the practice, must be well organized and executed. Careful thought and preparation must go into each scrimmage. This includes goals and objectives. What you what to accomplish with the scrimmage. Pre-planned rotations and substitutions are also important. However, be flexible and ready to improvise. Sometimes even the best of well laid out plans can go awry or get disrupted.

2. Individual Player Development & Improvement

"The game within a game."  Each player should be provided with an individual goal within the scrimmage, such as working on strong, first pass denials or offensive rebounding techniques. These individual goals can be written and handed out to each player on 3 X 5 cards.

Note: For maximum player development, every time a player picks up a basketball, whether it is for an individual workout, 3-on-3 half court games, or full court pick up or organized game, they should work on improving a specific skill or closely related skills in addition to just participating.

3. Officiate All Scrimmages

During practice have assistant coaches referee and make sure they take the responsibility seriously. If they do not know how to officiate make sure that they learn. Knowing the rules will definitely win or save at least one game during the season. For intersquad scrimmage games bring in regular officials. It is very tough to officiate and coach at the same time.

4. Divide Scrimmages into a Series of Mini-Scrimmages

Put an emphasis on defense and defensive stops by using multiple short scrimmages of 5 or 6 baskets (win by two) instead of single long scrimmages. This will increase the intensity of the scrimmage because of the magnitude and importance of making defensive stops. Breaks between scrimmages, like timeouts, allow you to make changes along with individual corrections without interfering or stopping the scrimmage.

5. Scrimmage Evaluation

Basketball is a game of habits. By improving the quality of scrimmages through the use of statistics, it will definitely better prepare teams for actual games and reduce "Game Slippage."

Do not wait until games to start statistically evaluating your players. Keeping statistics during practice scrimmages will not only provide useful data on individual player performances, but more importantly, it will enhance the caliber of play since players will be accountable for bad shots and turnovers.

For examples: If a player turns the ball over 10 times, in the next scrimmage they will take better care of the ball or if a player goes 1 for 10 from three point range, they will have definitely have better shot selection.

Note: Cybersports for basketball's inexpensive iPad App is really an excellent tool to use for scrimmages. It can be readily used for full and half court scrimmaging.

6. Have a Practice Squad

Organize a practice squad to work against. Practice squads can be of great value, especially when preparing for an opponent. This will keep your team intact. Instead, of having your own players learn the opponents' plays and defenses, they can concentrate in disrupting them. For women teams, organize a practice squad of males to practice against. Be sure to acknowledge and reward your practice squad at the end of the season.

7. Making Player Corrections

Substitute or wait for a break in the action to make individual player corrections. Do not waste other players’ time to correct one play. However, if the entire team can benefit from the correction then stop the action and point out the mistake. Do not stop the action for repeated mistakes, wait for a break in the action or substitute. Whenever possible, point out positive plays and efforts rather than mistakes.

8. Modify the Scoring Values for Emphasis

In order to achieve what you are emphasizing in a scrimmage, modify scoring or award bonus points.

For examples: To emphasize post play, credit a team with a point every time the post touches the ball or a shot made by a post worth 2 points all other made shots 1 point. To emphasize offensive rebounding give two points for a putback or rebound shot all other made shots 1 point.

You can also incorporate "Defensive Stops" into scoring. In order for a basket to count, it must be followed by a defensive stop. This prevents teams from just trading baskets, and emphasizes the importance of making defensive stops.

9. Player Evaluation

Use scrimmages to test or determine a player's competiveness, leadership and determination. Mismatch the desired player with four of the least skilled players and observe their reactions. Do they take on the challenge, or do they complain and give up and just go through the motions?

Note: To encourage hustle, on jump balls, the first player to dive for loose ball gets it or give it to the defense.

5 Stars

Scrimmage Variations

  1. Situation Scrimmages & Clock Management

    Use the clock and scoreboard to simulate various end of game situations both offensively and defensively. End of game situations become paramount at the end of season when winning or losing can determine a team's playoff and championship hopes. Scenarios can be created by adjusting time, score, out of bounds location, ball possession, and time outs. For examples:

    3-6 seconds on the clock, down 2 points and ball out of bounds in the back court.

    Game tied with 25 seconds on the clock, opponents with ball out of bounds on the sideline and 1 timeout.

    Three minutes to play up 10 shooting a 1-and-1 free throw situation with 2 timeouts remaining.

    NOTE: Situation scrimmaging does not only increases players' intelligence and aptitude for end of game situations, but, in the process, increases their confidence and confidence breeds success.

  2. Substituting.

    In lieu of just standing around, during scrimmages have players make ten consecutive free throws before substituting.

  3. Defense to Offense Rotations.

    When half court scrimmaging, require defense to make 4-6 defensive stops (defensive rebounds & turnovers) prior to going on offense. This will motivate the defensive players to play hard which in turn benefits the offense.

  4. Eliminate the Dribble.

    Especially at the start of preseason practices. During full court scrimmages make it a violation when a player dribbles. Players may struggle a little at the start, but they will soon adapt and start playing with their heads up and making cuts away from the ball. This is great for team play.

  5. Defense and Break.

    During offensive half court work, allow defense to fast break on turnovers and missed shots. This will not only give the defense incentive to play harder, but it will also check and insure the defensive balance responsibilities.

  6. Free Throw and Press ("Longest Run").

    When practicing full court presses or attacking full court presses, start with a made free throw. Continue playing and pressing on made shots until opponent scores. Keep track of the points scored prior to the opponent scoring.

  7. Post Touch.

    To emphasize the importance of of post play, require the post to handle the ball before any shots can be taken. This rule can be used for both half court and full court scrimmages.

  8. "and One"

    To emphasize the importance of team work and ball movement, during the scrimmage require that all five players must score prior to next basket wins (and One).

Learn More Half Court 3-on-3 Games