This is a great drill to work on 6V6 in transition, ball movement and team defense in a fast paced fun drill. Special thanks to Head Coach Scott Marr from Albany!! I heard him talk about the drill in our podcast interview and had our kids doing the drill within a week. They loved it, and it enhances a lot of key transition skills or what he referred to as building “Anticipation” on both sides of the ball. This is a fantastic drill for players of all ages.
So often, we as coaches have a tendency to work in “Even” situations in kind of a static half-field scenario. I might even call it a little boring, but I do want to offend you this early in the article. This drill is more game-like (emulating game-like situations is critical for all our drills) in that, although it is a 6V6 Drill it begins in a transition setting and includes finding the ball, ground balls, transition offense and transition defense, and is a great way to include a lot of players in running, recognizing and conditioning.
It is basically a 6V6 Drill that begins at the Midfield Line. Six Offensive Players are lined up facing the offensive end or the cage and “behind” them are six Defensive players. Coach Marr has his defenders begin with their heads down so they are not aware initially of where the ball has been rolled or tossed by the coach. We actually had our defenders facing the coach, rather than the cage, so that their backs are turned to the action.
From the Midfield line, the coach tosses or rolls the ball into the offensive end. The offensive players all sprint into action on the toss or on a whistle. The offensive players need to first locate the ball. Then as an offensive player picks up the ground ball the others must identify appropriate passing lanes or open space. Coach Marr has his players drive or pass to an open man, and immediately initiate offense to the cage.
From the Midfield line about 3 yards behind the offensive players the defensive players also turn and sprint on the toss or on the whistle. Potentially, one of the defensive players may think that they can chase down the ground ball before the offense identifies the location, however, the drill is designed for the defense to first sprint to the “hole” then very quickly identify who is covering who, with strong communication.
Coach Marr talks a lot about anticipation, as both offensive as well as defensive players need to not only think quickly, but perhaps more importantly, think quickly as a unit. This entire drill is fast paced and designed to quickly go to the cage. Then the players on the field return via outside the action area to the midfield area, while another group of 6V6 is ready to go immediately. We usually run ours in 30 to 40 second maximum sessions or less and immediately get the next group in action.
A tip that worked better for us, (we like fast practices), was to have the next group line up immediately after the first group of 6V6 is in play, to keep it all moving quickly. Not time to talk or be bored.
We also had some fun by adding a few nuances to the drill. First and foremost we look for a quick pass or two passes to shoot. If the shot off a pass is not there, immediately we have the offensive unit go to a 2-2-2 or 1-4-1, or my favorite, identify a match-up where we have shorty on a shorty and “Invert” to “X” and play. This is also done all in the 30-40 second interval (or less!).
In games, these types of “Jailbreak” hectic, unsettled scenarios, are where we often find the mismatch we wanted. But we need to quickly find it as a team and possibly exploit it before the defense can switch or get aligned the way they want to be aligned. But it really is tough to coach this from the sideline. So this drill can also be great for teaching players and getting the players thinking and identifying match-up opportunities via an “Invert” or a “Set.”
When the offense does a great job of recognizing or creating space in an unsettled situation, make sure they are recognized. When the defense does a great job of keeping it together in the unsettled fast-paced 30 seconds, make sure they too are recognized. We also recommend not beating this drill to death, and keeping the entire drill in a 7-12 minute duration to keep the kids interested and engaged.