• Jack Fleming

Dean Vickerman — Open Practice Notes


Current NBL championship winning head coach of Melbourne United, Dean Vickerman ran a clinic in 2017 with the Blackburn Big V Men to provide an idea of what his practices look like. Dean has a tremendous humble demeanour, which reflects what a superb job he’s done meshing together some big talents and personalities at Melbourne United. Here are my notes, enjoy!

  • Have more competition earlier in the week at practice.

  • What is your priority for the session?

  • What you get done is so important.

  • Start practice with something that makes them talk.

4 Ball Passing

  • 4 lines: elbow x2 and lane line/baseline x2 to form a rectangle.

  • 1 ball in each line. Pass to your left and run to your left.

  • Coaches call: 1 = chest pass, 2 = pass and hand back, change = change direction.

  • Must talk to the person you are passing to and receiving from.

  • Ask the players to make an evaluation on their performance.



How many minutes can you go w/o the ball touching the floor?






Partners Boxing

  • Find space on the floor (1 square metre approx) with a partner no basketballs.

  • 30sec or 24 secs.

  • Defensive stance: trying to move around like a boxer and touch the inside of your partners knees

  • 1 tap = 1 point, highest score wins.

  • Balance, light on our feet. Not lunging, jab and recover.

3 Man Deflections

  • Hand pressure is so important.

  • Offence must pivot twice before making a pass.

  • 30 seconds on defence, every deflection = 1.

  • Change positions on the floor, put a receiver in the post so the players can see how it is like the game.

  • Think about your distance from the ball: changes for everybody (length, quickness)

  • Know your distance, in the game = how well does he/she shoot?


Individual PnR D Breakdowns: Guards

(a) ‘Square’ stance to ‘Blue’ (Ice) stance on the ball (Coaches call)



(b) ‘Go’ = offense backs dribble up, D gets through the screen challenge the shot and box out.





© ‘Blue’ to throwback and DHO, D gets over the top and blows it up. Offence must shoot a jump shot


  • All elements build upon one another.

  • Our pursuit to get back in front must be with maximal effort.

PnR D Breakdowns: Bigs

  • Defender shouts ‘Blue’ and sprints to his position.

  • Pass and follow is hardest PnR to ‘Blue’

  • Every coverage in our language is ONE WORD.

  • Play 2v1 and the big must roll.

  • No lay ups.

Italian 3 on 3: Defensive Transition

  • D trans: all about getting onto the next thing

  • Play 3v3, then the offence guards the next team coming in.

  • One person on the new offensive team must catch the ball inside the 3pt line (make or miss.

  • Limit the dribbles or the shot clock. Play as quickly as possible.

  • Most important things for United: demand who has the ball, talk it and show hands up (Mika Vukona = elite example).

  • For diagrams and video on the drill, please see the link below:

Italian 3 on 3


4v4 Shell Drill

  • Never miss a day doing shell drill, did it at rookie camp.

  • Coach stands on baseline and another at top of key w/ a ball

  • As soon as one possession is done, next team rotates in and basketball is ready to go.

  • Encourages quick transitions from one thing to the next, takes talk and organisation.

(a) No screens

  • 3 dribbles max. Spurs: 0.5secs rule.

  • Be threatening w/ your body language (stance, feet etc.)

(b) Side PnR

  • Blue all screens on side. If they get middle we spin under the screen and ‘mush’.

(c ) Middle PnR — 6 coverages

  • Base coverage is ‘Mush’.

  • No straight runs at screen, contact to slow him down.

  • ‘LEFT’ or ‘RIGHT’ then ‘MUSH’ is our terminology.

  • One word coverage at all times, nothing else.

Coach always talks the time to stop, and praise the group or individuals so everybody hears it. Then prompts, ‘I still think you can really pressure that pass.’ Then leaves it alone.

3v3 Pressure Defense

  • Players have fun with it.

  • How do you play if you are coming from behind or need to win by a certain margin?

  • ‘Red 40’ = trap the first pass, try and get a deflection or cause a bad pass.

  • ’40 Face’ = both guards face guard, inbound defender plays behind them on the 3pt line. Trying to force a long pass.


X1, x2 and x3 defend 1,2 and 3 until half court. Defence is in ’40 face’ in example: offence job is to dribble the ball over the half and get it onto the next team. Once it crosses the half, defensive team is off (x1, x2, x3).

  • New offensive team (Black 1, 2, 3) now play 3v3 the other way vs the new defensive team (1, 2,3). Cycle Repeats.

  • Note: after any made shot or defensive rebound, coach always talks ball out of bounds and allows full court D to set up.

Final Thoughts

  • Expand your playbook deeper in the year. Keep it very simple early.

  • NZ and Perth: highest fouling teams have been most successful in past 5 years. Fouling not always a bad thing.

Want to Connect?

If you would like to continue the basketball conversation, provide your thoughts or ideas please message me on Twitter @jackfleming1, comment or e-mail me at flemingjack1995@gmail.com. Please retweet, share and send to as many coaches as you can!

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