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1v1 Basketball – How to improve?

The game of basketball has to be taught progressively. It is absolutely impossible to teach a player to play 1v1 if he does not know how to dribble, stop, and finish. That is why it is said that fundamentals are important – of course, they are – they are the basis for us to be able to teach all the other contents (ball screen, off-ball screen, offensive, and defensive systems …).

However, 1v1 is also a fundamental of the game. A player can’t know how to play a ball screen (2v2 situation) if he does not know how to play 1v1. Putting this in an easier to understand an overview, I leave here a tweet that I wrote:

“In mathematics, a student cannot do equations unless he knows how to multiply. In basketball it is the same, athletes cannot read an indirect block if they do not know how to attack the basket or throw”

How to improve on 1v1?

There are two types of 1v1 games – Inside and outside. In both, they can start in two ways, after dribbling or after receiving the ball. Knowing how to play both types of 1×1 in both ways (after dribbling and after receiving the ball) makes the player much more complete and much more dangerous for the opposing teams.

But the 1v1 game does not only develop if we regularly do 1v1 drills. First of all, we have to start at the bases, teach the players to attack the basket, that is, first we must give priority to the athletes to attack 1×0, and only after that we must introduce defense.

The teaching of 1v0 should be stimulated regularly, that is, whenever a player knows how to make a certain finish and is already comfortable in that specific way of attacking the basket, we should encourage the athlete. As? Simple, we can maintain the same movement just by introducing more execution speed or even reducing the number of dribbles to the basket.

Which drills to develop on 1v0?

As explained before, we must work 1v0 first and then 1v1. So I will leave here first some exercises that I use regularly to work 1v0.

Exercise 1: 1v0 Drive & Shoot

Exercise 1: 1x0 Drive & Finish

The purpose of this exercise is to work the 1v0 outside after receiving the ball.

The exercise begins with two columns. One under the basket and the other in the point guard position with the ball.

The player under the basket opens wide and receives a pass from the guard. The forward player with a ball makes the requested stop and attacks the basket.

In this exercise, I also work on how to pass the ball, although it is not the main focus of the exercise, it is important for the player who will attack the basket to receive the ball in the best possible way at the best possible time.

Exercise 1: 1x0 Drive & Finish

Rotation: Passer – Driver – Passer


Jump Stop Drive to Baseline – Layup

Jump Stop Fake Drive to Middle and Cross step to drive to baseline – Floater

Jump Stop Drive to Middle – Reverse Layup with the outside hand

Jump Stop Fake Drive to baseline and Cross step to drive to the middle – Floater

Stride Stop Drive to Baseline – Euro-step

Stride Stop Fake Drive to Baseline and Cross Step to drive to Middle – Euro-step

Stride Stop Drive to the Middle – Reverse Layup with Inside Hand

Stride Stop Fake Drive to Middle and Drive baseline – Reverse Layup under the basket with the outside hand


2-handed chest pass

Chopped Pass with 2 hands

Chest Pass with 1 hand after dribbling

Chopped pass with 1 hand after dribbling


– Attack when receiving the ball

– Receive and point to the basket

– Drive the basket hard (VERTICAL TO THE BASKET)

Exercise 2: Change Directions to Attack

Exercise 2: Changes to attack

This exercise aims to work 1×0 after dribbling. I always ask the players for some creative freedom in this exercise, but they must do it at game speed.

Its dynamics start with two columns arranged as in the figure, in each cone the player makes a change of direction and advances to the next cone, he does not need to go very fast. When you reach the last one, you still make a change of direction and attack at the highest speed. To simulate the crossover to the defender and attack the basket.



Between Legs

Behind the back



When it comes to finishing, players have creative freedom. They must always do so at the highest speed.

Which drills to make to improve on 1v1?

These are some exercises that I do to develop 1v0 and work on many fundamentals.

To work 1v1 we have to start from several situations, that is, the defender may be defending in different ways. The defender may be standing still, he may be doing a close-out, and he may be late before the attacker as he may be ahead of the attacker. To be the most complete to play 1v1 it is very important to know how to attack each moment.

When the defender comes in close-out we should always attack the most advanced foot, unless he clearly denies one side. If this happens, we must attack the other side. However, the close-out can be long or short, if it is long we attack the most advanced foot or the clearly empty side, if it is short we must shoot it because it will not be ready to contest the shot.

When the defender is standing in front of us, we must attack him at the maximum speed we can. That way he won’t be ready to follow us, just a feint of the body is enough to leave him behind.

When the defender is behind us, we must go ahead of him to continue to gain the advantage we have.

And now I will leave here the exercises in which I introduce defense. Athletes must always realize who has an advantage at every moment and know how to use that advantage.

Exercise 3: 1v1 offense with the advantage

1x1 offense advantage

The exercise starts with two by two with a ball, one player attacking, and another player defending. The player who is defending will touch the cone and try to contest the throw. The player who attacks will finish on the empty side. The exercise only ends when there is a defensive rebound or scored basket.

In a second phase of the exercise, that is, when the players are performing well, we must place limitations on the number of dribbles (Graph 1)

1x1 offense advantage

In the second graph the player with the ball starts from the back, rolls forward and the defender makes the decision to choose the cone (only when the attacking player spins forward). (Graph 2)

A third variant will be the player with the ball starts dribbling and as soon as the defender wants to decide which cone to touch, the attacker must quickly change direction or not (depending on which side the defender touches) to finish.

1x1 offense advantage

A fourth variant, will be face to face in midfield, come slowly (back defense, forward attacker) to the three-point line and the defender chooses one side and the attacker, attacks empty side. (Graph 3)

Exercise 3: 1v1 offense with advantage

A final variant will be to extend the cones until the free-throw line extends and intersects with the three points. The defender chooses aside and goes around the cone, the attacker attacks the empty side. (Graph 4)

Exercise 4: Attack the Close-out

1x1 attack the close-out

The purpose of the exercise is to improve the decision-making of the attacking player. In the beginning, it is important to limit what type of close-out it is – long or short. For the player who attacks, it is important to check whether he attacks the most advanced foot or the clearly empty space left by the defender.

1x1 attack the close-out

The dynamics of the exercise begin with 3 columns two in the corners and one in the middle. The column in the corner goes to the middle and the middle goes to the other corner. Whoever made the first pass will defend the other corner.

It is important to change the attack positions so that the attacking player can attack different spaces on the field.

Exercise 5: 1v1 – 6 seconds to finish

1x1 in 6 segundos

The exercise begins with 2 columns, in the extension of the 3 seconds area, one with a ball and another column without a ball. The Player of the column with the ball goes to dribble up to 1 meter of the line of 3 points and delivers the ball to the player without the ball. From the delivery of the 1v1 ball. A player who attacks has 6 seconds to finish, there is no limit to dribbling.

It ends only when there is a converted basket or ball recovered from the defense. If there is an offensive rebound, the attack has only 3 seconds to launch, and so on.


Change the position of the ball delivery

Ready to become a deadly weapon on 1v1?

To actually become or turn your athletes into deadly weapons in 1v1 it takes a lot of training and a lot of competition. Players need to play 1v1 with athletes equal to or better than them so that they are always at a point of constant development.

A very important note so that there is indeed enough competition in a 1v1 is necessary at some point to improve the defensive capacity to create difficulties in the attack. It works like a balance, if we are constantly training the offense, there will be a point where the defense will have a lot of difficulties stopping the offense and this is where we have to work the defense, otherwise the attack will never have struggle and there will be no a continuous evolution, it will simply stagnate.

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