The Lakers Drill
Develop Speed and Quickness on the Fast Break

The Lakers Drill simulates fast break action that works both offense and defense. The offensive players develop strong ball handling skills in an open court situation and good finishing skills; the defensive players develop conditioning and defending skills against a fast break.

A rather obvious reason it is called "the Lakers drill" - the Lakers being the preeminent running team in the '80s - it is drills like this that help develop confidence and skills in handling the ball, passing and finishing when players are speeding down the court. And if you are running a fast break - which I think most teams should be looking to as the first option of their offensive strategies - you want your players organized and running as fast as they can, but always in control.

We can all attest to watching teams - sometimes our own - racing down the court well ahead of the opponent and then throwing the ball away on an errant pass, or slamming the ball off the backboard instead of laying it in.

The more (focused) practice players have with drills like this, the more they will be able to control the ball in these fast break situations - and the more points they'll be able to put up on the scoreboard!

The Lakers Drill
Instructions to Players

  • Strong chest passes at the beginning, leading the receiver

  • Neither the offensive player nor the defensive player can race ahead - they must wait to break at the half

  • The offensive player must treat this as a fast break - take the ball hard to the hoop, don't hold up (in the game, the rest of the defense will be charging up the court)

  • The defensive player needs to get downcourt before the offensive player and stop the offensive player's drive to the basket (forcing a shot is better than allowing a lay-up)

The Lakers Drill
How to Run It

  • Players line up in three lines, ball in the middle

  • The middle player passes to either side, proper chest pass

  • The ball is passed back to the middle, then out to the other side

  • The three continue in this fashion until they reach the half mark (generally only two or three passes)

  • At the half, whichever wing receives the last pass breaks to the basket

  • The opposite wing races ahead down the court to play defense, either stopping the drive or taking the charge

  • The middle trails, rebounds and the three bring the ball back upcourt in the same fashion

This is a quick drill that builds speed-dribble skills and quick transition to defense. It's a great drill to have at the beginning of the practice that fires the players up and prepares them for practice, while at the same time reinforcing previously taught skills.

As with most fast break drills, this is a drill players tend to enjoy, but it can easily slip into mayhem, or at least silliness, if players start to get tired. The best way I have found to approach drills like this - less technical and more operational  - is to make them quick (3-5 minutes only), and push for players to reach a goal (whatever you think is the weakest point for them - e.g., make ten layups in a row; no turnovers 10 times in a row; etc.).

And if things do start to go south, some "encouragement" often works - e.g., "We run a suicide for every bad pass in the next 5 attempts!"

“There are only two options regarding commitment… you’re either in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as life in-between”

– Pat Riley