Knockout! Exercise in Stupidity?

If you are unfamiliar with the game of “knockout”, it is a game typically used as a drill for young basketball players. The players line up in a single file behind the free-throw line, with the first and second players in line holding a ball. The first player shoots from the free throw line, and if he makes it, he’s still “in” and goes to the back of the line. If he misses, then he tries to get his rebound and make a shot before the guy behind him at the free throw line makes his shot. If the guy behind him makes the shot first, than the first player is eliminated (knocked out) and sits down for the remainder of the competition. This continues until only one player remains, presumably the “knockout king”, if you will.

As I watched this drill today, I couldn’t help but wonder – what is it really teaching, anyway? The worst shooters are eliminated first, and thus spend the most time “watching” the rest of the team complete the drill. The best shooters .. ie, the ones who need the least shooting practice, get the most reps as the game goes along. Doesn’t that seem kind of backwards? How can the kids who shoot poorly get any better if all they do is watch the team stars shoot basket after basket?

I think that if I were one of the poor shooters, I might just have to integrate a new twist to the drill: full-contact knockout. You practice your shooting, I’ll practice my intentional fouls.


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