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What Ever Happened to the Mikan Drill?

I could remember going to camp as a kid and the camp director talking about layups and how so many are missed. And, how there is the one drill that will help you learn how to make your layups with both of your hands. That one drill…The Mikan Drill. So what did I do growing up? I did The Mikan Drill every time I went out and practiced. I learned the fundamental footwork for a layup. I learned how to watch the ball through the rim on each and every repetition. I learned how to keep the ball high and finish higher. I learned how to finish with my strong and weak hand. Yes, all of that in one simple drill that was created by the original big man, George Mikan.

Georgetown Did the Mikan Drill Daily

Fast forward about a decade to when I was in the midst of my high school coaching career, and I was at a coaches clinic watching John Thompson III the speak. At the time he was a highly successful coach at Georgetown University where they were running variations of the Princeton Offense. If you know anything about the Princeton Offense, you know that they scored primarily off of layups, backdooring and screening the heck out of their opponent until they got an open layup first or an open jumper second. If you are getting layups, you need to make them. So what drill did this highly paid, highly successful college basketball coach show us? You guessed it, The Mikan Drill. Actually, he showed us three different variations of The Mikan Drill and talked about how they started every practice off with this series of mikans. Imagine that, a college team doing the drill that I learned way back when in order to help them be successful at making layups. 

Today’s Youth Basketball Player Misses Too Many Layups but Cannot Do the Mikan Drill

The good old days, when coaches used simple drills that actually worked. What happened to those days? I only ask because for some reason time and time again, I watch youth basketball players miss layup upon layup in their games. Then, I have young basketball players come to my basketball clinics and they cannot perform in any way, shape or form this very drill that will help them make the shot that so many of them miss. It drives me insane! Their footwork is incorrect, often times going off the wrong leg on the wrong side. They put the ball up and take their eyes off the rim immediately. And most importantly, they struggle to make layups with their strong hand and struggle even more with their weak hand. Why? There is a lack of fundamentals being taught at a young age because the culture is too focused on playing games. They are too focused on doing drills that may be creative but don’t do anything as far as skill development goes. Is the Mikan Drill the magic pill for curing your missed layup disease? No. However, if it worked really well for us growing years ago and it worked really well for a highly successful college coach and program it may just be something our youth should be using as well. 


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