The Mikan Drill is a basketball drill created by George Mikan and Ray Meyer. If you need to make more layups, this drill will help you do that.
It was your first game back since your team came in third place last season. You and your team are driven to improve on that record. You’re hungry and angry and want to win. And this first game, this was your chance to show all the other teams in your league that you are not playing around. Not this season. But when the final buzzer went off, your team was down by 4 points. Your team lost. You made some big shots but failed to make some critical layups.
You should’ve done more Mikan Drills in the off-season.
What is the Mikan Drill?
The Mikan Drill is a basketball exercise created by former NBA player George Mikan and collegiate coach Ray Meyer. The drill is meant to help players find their rhythm when taking close-range shots and when rebounding.
This drill is good for building confidence and teaching the fundamentals of post-moves or close-range shots. It also teaches you where to bounce the ball on the backboard to have it go in.
However, the Mikan Drill can get boring (a lot of young players hate it). It’s very simplistic. All you have to do is stand either underneath or right in front of the basket and lay it in. You have to grab your own rebound and then lay it up with the opposite hand. You repeat this process until you make 10 or so shots.
It’s a tedious and repetitive drill, but it’s very effective.
Spice Up the Drill
To make things more exciting, like a posterizing dunk on a player you hate in NBA 2K, you can add in alternative moves. This is what Kyrie Irving does to make the drill compliment his game more. One of the things he would do to switch it up is jumping on one leg and then laying it up with various hands.
For example, he would jump on his right foot and lay it up with the right hand. And then he would continue jumping on the right foot, but this time he would lay it up with the left hand. Then he would switch to jumping on his left foot.
What I like to do is add reverse layups. This has always been one of my favourite moves, so this is how I practice it, especially now that I’m older and play down low in the post more. When I’m doing the drill, I’ll do 10 or so normal layups and then add in 10 reverse layups.
To make it more challenging, you can do different finishes every rep. You can also add in spin moves, which will train your footwork, into the routine as well. Just figure out a few close-range moves you want to work on and do those.
Mikan Drill and Old Man Game
The Mikan Drill is great for developing and improving post-old man moves.
If you look at a guy like Zach Randolph, a lot of his post-game can be learned by doing the Mikan Drill. You can learn the angles he uses to make close-range shots, but most importantly, you can learn how to position yourself to get the easiest and cleanest shot possible. And you will be able to learn all this because of the rhythm and feel that you will attain from doing reps over and over again.
And if you’re a player who doesn’t play in the post often, this drill can also help you develop a lay-up pack.
Guys like Irving and Dwyane Wade do this drill all the time, and they rarely miss layups! (Well, Kyrie for sure does the Mikan, but I’m not too sure about D. Wade. He probably did though.)
The reason why this drill will improve your layups is that it will give you familiarity. If you do this drill consistently and put up a lot of shots, you will start to recognize where the ball needs to bounce to fall into the basket. You will start to recognize the positions and angles for the easiest shot, and how hard you have to shoot the ball. And again, this pattern recognition or muscle memory will be developed through repetition… and lots of it.
Oh, and it will also improve your ability to be ambidextrous and score with both hands.
I first learned about this drill when I was watching a workout video from a player. I forget who, but he was a shooting guard. At first, I thought it was the most boring exercise, like something that a player from the 40s or 50s would do. But I gave it a try anyway. It was difficult for the first few shots. I kept going and it eventually got easier. However, I didn’t know if it was going to improve my game or not.
I continued to do it for about a week. After my first game since doing the drill, I knew it worked. I made more layups and close-range shots than usual and they were easy to make. I didn’t have to think about it much and I just looked up at the basket and my body went through the motions. No hesitations or deep thought whatsoever.
And I’m pretty sure it was all because of the reps I did. I know I keep coming back to the reps, but it’s the truth. And it doesn’t just apply to the Mikan Drill. Anything that you want to become good at will require lots and lots of repetitions.
READ MORE: Dwyane Wade’s Go-To Basketball Drills
So if you’re willing to put in the work, give this drill and its variations a try. Then come back here and let me know if you’re game improved or not.