What Is the Mikan Drill

What Is the Mikan Drill?

If you’re a basketball player looking to improve your skills around the basket, then you’ve probably heard of the Mikan Drill. This iconic drill, named after NBA Hall of Famer George Mikan, is a fundamental exercise that focuses on developing layup and rebounding techniques. Incorporating this drill into your training routine can enhance your footwork, increase your shooting accuracy, and improve your overall scoring ability.

In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the origins of the Mikan drill and explore how it benefits players at all levels. We’ll also provide step-by-step instructions on performing the drill correctly and highlight common mistakes to avoid. Get ready to take your skills inside the paint to new heights with this tried-and-true technique!

The Origins of the Mikan Drill

The Mikan drill, a fundamental basketball exercise that players around the world use to improve their layup skills, has its origins rooted in the innovative mind of George Mikan. Born in 1924, Mikan was a professional basketball player who revolutionized the game with his unique style and skill set. He played for DePaul University and later became a dominant force in the NBA as a member of the Minneapolis Lakers. During his time at DePaul, Mikan developed the drill that would become known as the “Mikan drill, “forever leaving his mark on basketball history.

The origins of the Mikan drill have historical significance because it marked a turning point in how players approached layups. Before Mikan introduced this exercise, layups were often considered secondary shots lacking precision and consistency. However, through his relentless practice and dedication to perfecting his craft, Mikan elevated the layup into an essential weapon for players of all positions.

By incorporating footwork, timing, and coordination into one fluid motion, he created a training routine that allowed players to develop their touch around the basket while improving their overall agility. The results were undeniable – not only did players become more efficient scorers near the rim, but they also gained better control over their bodies and improved their ability to finish through contact.

The Benefits for Basketball Players

The Mikan Drill is a fundamental and time-tested basketball exercise that offers several benefits for players looking to improve their game, especially in close-range shooting and overall basketball skills. Here are some key benefits of incorporating the drill into your training routine:

  • Improved Close-Range Shooting: The primary objective of the drill is to develop proficiency in shooting layups with both hands. By practicing this drill regularly, players can enhance their shooting touch, accuracy, and consistency around the rim. It is crucial for converting high-percentage shots near the basket during games.
  • Enhanced Coordination and Footwork: The drill requires precise footwork and timing. Players must coordinate their steps and body movements to efficiently move from one side of the basket to another while executing layups. Consistently practicing this drill can improve footwork and coordination, which are essential skills in basketball.
  • Hand-Eye Coordination: Successfully completing the drill involves using both hands to shoot layups. It helps develop ambidexterity and hand-eye coordination, allowing players to become more comfortable and skilled with both their dominant and non-dominant hands.
  • Rebounding Skills: In addition to shooting layups, the drill involves quickly reacting to missed shots and grabbing the rebound before attempting the next layup. This aspect of the drill can significantly improve a player’s ability to read the ball’s trajectory, box out opponents, and secure rebounds during games.
  • Time-Efficient Training: The drill can be completed relatively quickly, making it an efficient way to work on various basketball skills. Players can get substantial repetitions in a short practice session, maximizing their improvement potential.

Remember that consistent and dedicated practice is key to realizing the benefits of the drill. Incorporate it into your regular training routine and other basketball drills and exercises to develop a well-rounded game.

How to Perform

To perform the Mikan Drill, you must stand under the basket with a ball in your hands. Start by shooting a layup with your right hand and immediately grab the rebound with your left hand before shooting another layup with your left hand. Repeat this sequence for a specific number of repetitions or a set amount of time. This drill helps improve coordination, timing, and overall touch around the rim.

To make it easier to follow along, here’s a table outlining some common variations of the drill:




Instead of using one ball, use two balls simultaneously to increase speed and challenge coordination.


Begin on one side of the basket and shoot reverse layups with both hands while moving toward the opposite side.

Off-hand focus

Alternate between shooting layups with only your weak hand to enhance its strength and accuracy. 

Mastering the drill requires focus, repetition, and attention to detail. By incorporating these variations into your practice routine, you can maximize improvement in your layup skills. However, even experienced players can make some common mistakes when performing this drill, such as rushing through repetitions or neglecting proper footwork. Understanding these potential pitfalls will help you avoid them during practice sessions and ultimately enhance your overall performance on the court without sacrificing efficiency or technique.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Practicing

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Practicing

Image by mego-studio on Freepik

To ensure maximum improvement in your layup skills, it’s crucial to avoid common mistakes when honing your technique during this fundamental basketball training exercise. Here are some errors to avoid in the drillg and tips to enhance your performance:

  • Neglecting the Weak Hand: Many players tend to favor their dominant hand when doing layups, even during the drilll. To develop well-rounded skills, it’s crucial to practice with both hands. Make a conscious effort to use your weak hand during the drill to improve strength and coordination.
  • Lack of Focus on Form: Sometimes, players get too focused on speed and the number of repetitions rather than concentrating on the correct form and technique. Remember that quality is more valuable than quantity. Focus on proper footwork, hand positioning, and finishing technique for each layup attempt.
  • Ignoring Proper Body Positioning: Your body positioning is vital during the drill. Ensure your body is squared up to the basket, and your hips and shoulders correctly align. Avoid leaning or twisting your body, leading to inaccurate shots and hindering your progress.
  • Not Using the Backboard: The drill is an excellent opportunity to practice using the backboard effectively. Aim for the sweet zone on the backboard, which will increase your layup chances, even if it doesn’t hit the rim directly.
  • Overcomplicating the Drill: The drill is meant to be a straightforward and repetitive exercise to develop muscle memory and coordination. Avoid adding too many variations or complex movements, especially if you are a beginner. Stick to the basics and gradually increase the difficulty as you become more proficient.
  • Neglecting Other Layup Variations: While the drill is essential for honing fundamental layup skills, don’t limit yourself to just this one exercise. Incorporate other layup variations like reverse layups, euro steps, and floaters into your training routine to become a more versatile scorer.

Remember that consistency, patience, and attention to detail are vital in improving your layup skills effectively. By avoiding these common mistakes and following the right techniques, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more proficient basketball player. 

Incorporating the Mikan Drill into Your Training Plan

By including the Mikan Drill in your daily practice regimen, you can seamlessly enhance various aspects of your game and effortlessly transition between different offensive moves. The drill is not only a fundamental skill-building exercise but also an effective way to improve your coordination, footwork, and finishing around the basket. 

Here are three key ways to incorporate the drill into your training routine:

  1. Incorporating Variations: While the basic drill involves practicing layups on both sides of the basket using one hand, you can add variations to challenge yourself further. Try incorporating reverse layups or using both hands during the drill to improve your ambidexterity and overall scoring ability. By diversifying your practice with these variations, you’ll become a more versatile player who can adjust to different game situations.
  2. Integrating Mikan Drill in Team Practices: The beauty of the drill is that it can be easily integrated into team practices. Coaches can include this drill as part of warm-up routines or designate specific time slots for players to work on their layup technique. By doing so, players will not only refine their skills but also develop better chemistry and timing with their teammates during fast-break situations or when executing pick-and-roll plays.
  3. Success Stories and Testimonials from Players who have used the Drill: Many basketball players at all levels have attested to the effectiveness of incorporating this drill into their training routine. From high school athletes looking to make varsity teams to professional players aiming for championship titles, countless success stories exist regarding how this simple yet powerful drill has improved their game. 

By incorporating different variations of the drill into your training routine and integrating it into team practices, you’ll notice significant improvements in your offensive abilities over time.

The Bottom Line

The Mikan Drill is an essential training exercise for basketball players looking to enhance their skills around the basket. With its origins dating back to the legendary George Mikan, this drill has stood the test of time and continues to be utilized by players at all game levels. By focusing on proper footwork, timing, and finishing techniques, this drill helps develop crucial skills that translate directly into success on the court.

At Revolution Basketball Training, we encourage you to embrace the power of the Mikan Drill and take your game to new heights. For personalized guidance and expert coaching, contact us today and start honing your skills with this essential training exercise.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *