What is a reaction drill?

There are so many problems with this drill that I cannot cover every one. However, the drill is called “three cone reaction drill”. What is the reaction? The coach calls out a color, and the player runs to a colored cone. Does that have anything to do with the perceptual cues in a game? To what do players react during a game?

From there, every movement is scripted. The offense at each cone does the same thing every time. There is no reaction. There is no learning. There is following directions (and even the instructions are poor: chop your feet).

How do you determine before the drill starts that a player is going to be in position to draw a charge? Well, because the coach says so. Does that represent defensive tasks in games?

I don’t understand why coaches will not allow their players to play against live offense (or defense).

This drill, and those like it, essentially suggest that the hard part of defense, or the limiting factor in defensive performance, is the physical component. For instance, the player may not know how to fall correctly when taking a charge or how to chop his steps when doing a useless closeout or which direction to move to get to the baseline.

If falling down really is the problem, and what we want to teach, shouldn’t we start with a safer drill? Do we want a player who doesn’t know how to fall down to fall onto a hardwood court? What about a mat? What about instruction directed toward falling down? What about simply playing a sport that involves falling, such as wrestling or judo, to develop those skills at a higher level?

If the player doesn’t know how to chop his steps correctly, well, he’ll probably be a better player before the drill than after. As for knowing the direction of the baseline, that probably has been taken care of by this point in a player’s career, and there are better ways to teach absolute beginners the terminology of the court.

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

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