The undefeated 2017 Wellington Saints of the New Zealand NBL were known for their excellence on the court and their love of games off court. When they grew tired of playing Mafia - not a frequent occurrence - often they’d resort to playing Signs. I much preferred Mafia, given that I was terrible at Signs, however I thought it could be adapted to be a fun and effective ball handling warm up game.
I believe the constraints of the ball handling warm up game make it effective because:
It is motivating through competition
It involves each player being 100% time on task and getting a lot of repetitions
Speed of execution is required
The players senses are overloaded (the dribble must be autonomous in order to liberate the player’s attention to be focused upon the actions of those around them and making appropriate responses to them)
Each player works on a variety of dribble moves
Each player must keep their “eyes up” and utilise “soft focus” so that they maintain a visual awareness of their surroundings
The game involves open skills that are externally paced and unpredictable
Therefore the players must be mentally alert
Below is an explanation of how to play “Moves”:
Number of players = 5 - 7 is ideal
Each player has a ball each
Each player selects one “Move” from the following:
Through the legs
Behind the back
Walk the dog
Shamgod / El Latigo
One move per player… no two players can have the same move as this is their personal designate
You could make everyone perform ‘doubles’ if you want to increase the difficulty level, for example, double crossover, through-through, or behind-behind.
The players make a circle with one player in the middle.
Someone starts with “It” to begin each game. In the diagram 1 starts with “It”
The player in the middle tries to tag the player with “It”
The player who has “It” tries to pass “It” on to another player in the circle by doing their personalised designate move. For example, if “1” wants to pass “It” onto 3 they must do a behind the back dribble.
1 still has “It” (and can be tagged) until 3 accepts “It” by doing the move of the player who passed it to them (here, as 1 passed it to them, 3 must do a crossover).
At all other times the players in the circle must do either a control dribble (below the knees or below the waist) or they may do the dribble move of the player in the middle (in the diagram this would be a Shamgod) to try and distract them.
The goal is to confuse the player in the middle so that they do not know who has “It” and if they do try and tag the person who has “It” to pass it on before they’re able to.
The ultimate goal is to keep the player in the middle as long as possible.
If the person with “It” is tagged they become the new player in the middle and the player in the middle joins the circle and starts the new game with “It.”