Freeball/Downball Drill: A Fast-Paced Scrimmage Alternative to End Practice

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Once we start to get towards the middle/end of the season, it can feel like you’ve been running the same drills over and over again!

Add a fresh new drill to the end of your practice! This is one of my FAVORITE drills to end practice with, because it is high intensity, competitive, fast moving, and mentally challenging for the players.

This drill works best for 6 vs 6 situations (either against your own team or with a similar team you would normally scrimmage against), but can be modified to 5 vs 5 if needed.


Each side will start in their base positions. Don’t worry about rotating, because you’ll switch front row and back row intermittently.

Subs (if there are any) will be on the sideline cheering on their teammates, but will shag if needed. They can also be positioned as handers for the coach who is entering the downballs/freeballs. If you have an older team or more mature players, let them enter the ball. It is very important that this player PAYS ATTENTION!


This drill has a loooooot of rules! That’s why I created the chart for this drill to help you follow along.

Essentially, you’ll start every round with a freeball toss to one side. If they win the rally, they progress to getting a downball. If they lose the rally, the opposite team gets a chance to put away a freeball.

If a team can put down both a downball AND a freeball, they get a “little point” and BOTH sides switch front row and back row. You could rotate, but it might take too long to get through a full rotation.

Once the teams switch front row and back row. You start over, but keep track of “little points” along the way.

After a team earns three little points, they get a “big point.”

This wipes the slate clean of little points, and both teams start back at zero, while retaining their big points.

Three big points are needed to win the drill.

If you find this takes too long, modify the drill and go for the “first to five little points” wins, or something similar.


You’ll find that players REALLY get into this drill! Having to win two rallies in a row puts pressure on teams to execute, and the opposing team to defend the court at all costs.

I’ve found players shift into a “play to win” mentality, rather than a “play not to lose” mindset.

This drill also gives the feel of game-like pressure, because the pace is so quick it mimics how a real match feels! Players learn to deal with ups and downs on the fly, and after you run this drill a few times, they’ll learn how to build and control momentum.

Run this as an alternative to scrimmaging at the end (SLOW) or playing Queen of the Court (yet again).