45/54 drills prepare players for mismatches From Ray Kues, formerly of Bishop Brossart High School, Alexandria, Kentucky

The following drills are a combination of two drills which we use on a weekly basis to help our players understand what to do when they are outnumbered due to a mismatch or missed assignment.

45 Drill

This drill is a good drill to teach both offensive and defensive players what to do when faced with an unequal numbers situation. 4 defensive players are matched against 5 offensive players. Each player is given a number from 1 to 9 to start the drill. Numbers 1 to 4 will be the defensive players and 5 to 9 will be the offensive players.

The allotted time on the clock is 2 minutes. After the 2 minute mark each player will move “up” one number. For example player No. 1 becomes No. 2 No. 3 becomes No. 4 and so on until the game is played nine times. Using this system each player will have the opportunity to play offense five times and defense four times.

Scoring for each 2-minute segment of the “45 drill” is as follows:

  • The defense is given 5 points to start the game since they are at a disadvantage.
  • The defense accumulates points by getting two points every time the offense has a turnover regardless of whether or not it was caused by the defense.
  • The offense receives 1 point for each basket and 2 points for each 3-point basket.

The drill is concluded after 2 minutes. The losing team runs laps for the difference in points. If a team lost by 4 points for example they would be required to run 4 laps.

This drill forces the defenders to talk and communicate constantly and to know who the weakest player is out of the 5 offensive players. The defense might want to concede a 3-point shot attempt if the offense has no good shooters in that particular lineup.

The offense on the other hand needs to quickly rotate the ball and find the open players. If the defense fouls an offensive player on a shot attempt the offense is given a point for the foul and another point if they score on the shot. This prevents the defense from playing sloppy defense and simply fouling to prevent a score.

54 Drill

This drill is set up in the same manner as the previous drill except the offense now only has 4 players and is given a 5-point lead to begin each 2-minute segment. The defensive team now outnumbers the offense and has 5 defenders. The point system is the same as used in the 45 drill.

The defense must use its extra player to trap the person with the ball and force a turnover. The defense is once again given 2 points if the offense commits a turnover. The offense is concentrating on not getting trapped and moving the ball quickly so the defense cannot get set to trap.

Both drills last a minimum of 18 minutes (9 players x 2 minutes). We sometimes run this drill with 10 players so every player receives a break and sits out one rotation. Both drills simulate game-type situations that teams are forced to deal with during every game. How the team reacts to the unequal numbers could result in success or failure – or between a win and a loss.




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Sparta, MI 49345
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