Small sided games (SSG) are breakdown drills/activities in basketball, where coaches can isolate specific concepts or actions with fewer players involved to increase the number of reps from simulated circumstances. It is a very popular practice activity for player and team development.

If you continue reading, you’ll see the advantages (wins) and disadvantages (losses) from using SSGs.

There are a few coaches listed at the bottom with links to their Youtube channels that do a really good job sharing a variety of SSG drills to consider adding.

WIN: CONTROL

Beijing Falcons Basketball

Whether it is small numbers in practice, or targeting a particular learning objective; SSG drills are a great way to control the environment. If with the team this may be used during the early stages of system installation. Or, consider running a station at a camp where instead of having long lines for a simple catch and shoot drill; it could be structured as 2v2 or 3v3 to work on pin-downs against live defense.

LOSS: OVER-COACHING

Creativity shouldn’t compromise the objective of the drill. With more space and less numbers, there are a lot of unique ways to structure a small sided game. This can be an advantage from a player engagement standpoint, but limit concept acquisition or development if too gimmicky overstates the game.

WIN: EFFICIENCY

There is never enough time for coaches when it comes to practice. And for the players, they are attempting to optimize each rep to leave an impression on playing time decisions. Small sided games increase the number of opportunities for the players to compete, which should offer a strong enough sample size for staff evaluation in a variety of simulated situations.

LOSS: IT’S NOT 5V5

It is game-like, but it is still not 5v5. SSGs are not true replications of what could occur in a game. For example, the spacing could be a false sense of reality. Where during 5v5 situations there are two extra defenders squeezing the floor forcing a ballhandler to make a decision they wouldn’t with fewer players. This has the potential to generate habits that turn problematic when it matters most.

WIN: LIVE COMPETITION

In the end, coaches and players alike just want to compete. Adding opposition – offense or defense – applies a learning experience that on-air drills can’t offer. This isn’t to suggest that every drill should incorporate live competition because that too, can be a misconception. In the case of breaking down elements of the game, or getting the most out of an activity for player/team activity; SSGs are versatile ways to compete.

Recommended YouTube Channels for SSG Drills:

Matt Hackenberg | Tony Miller | Coach Z

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