The three-person weave, drills, and progressions

People love the three-person weave. Since publishing Fake Fundamentals and Fake Fundamentals: Volume 2, that is my major takeaway. I argued against 20 drills and teaching points that are pervasive in basketball at every level, and the only one that angers people is the three-person weave. 

I don’t understand. For every reason that someone gives for using the three-person weave, I can offer a better drill. A drill; I won’t even go to a standby game, such as keep away or tag. I can offer a better drill that ignores the perceptual elements of the skill just as well as the three-person weave. And still, people love them some three-person weave.

My coach in Sweden, who I liked, used the three-person weave. We used it as a warmup at the beginning of practice for a group of players who were primarily over the age of 26 and coming to the gym directly from work. This was our conditioning. We almost never ran sprints.

The coach used a different three-person weave every practice. We rarely did the drill the same way. He mixed up the tasks involved in the drill, changing the passes, the distances, the receptions, and more. He incorporated variety and coordination tasks.

This is my major issue with the three-person weave. Of course it does not practice game passing because there is no defense and the defense determines or affects every pass. However, if you argue that the drill is good for passing on the move or for conditioning, I still have a problem with the drill. What’s next?

My coach continually added complexity to the drill. What happens in most gyms when players master the drill? They do the same thing the next day and the day after that.

This makes sense because coaches believe in repetitions and perfection. However, there is no learning when you continually do a drill that you have mastered. When you perform a skill that you can do already, in the same way, how are you expecting to improve? What are you improving? When players art out and learn the pattern, they can improve by going faster, but once they do the drill at full-speed, as with most high school teams and above, what are they learning when they continue to do the drill?

This is a problem that goes beyond the three-person weave. Because we strive for perfection and repetitions, we continually repeat skills that we have mastered. There is no learning. To continue the learning process, there must be a change. The players must be able to perform the same skill in more complex situations, at a faster speed, or with greater accuracy. As players near the plateau on a learning curve, they have to make small improvements in all three to continue their learning.

Once a drill is mastered, you must find a new challenge. Doing the same thing over and over gives you the same results. There is not improvement or learning. This is the major issue with drills such as the three-person weave. Coaches believe in the drill, and they use the same drill every single day. After the first couple of days, the learning and improvement stops. The drill is there to keep players busy.

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice and Fake Fundamentals

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