3 Ways to Simulate Game Actions in an Empty Gym

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As a coach, you have the opportunity to oversee your players as they practice, and offer them important suggestions. During the season, it's easy to see firsthand how they improve and which fundamentals still need work. Observing your players is invaluable but you won’t always be there to watch them - especially in the off-season. Even when practice occurs away from your presense, you can still teach your players to simulate game actions while practicing solo by encouraging them to stress timing, experiment with shot selection, and maintain an active pace. And Dr. Dish is here to help!

1. Keep Timing in Mind

In an empty gym, your players will have unlimited time to square up for a shot, dribble around, or establish the proper positioning. While the lack of pressure allows them to get the fundamentals down in a non-rushed setting, it’s important that players understand they will not always have that luxury in games. Their tempo in establishing form and releasing the shot should therefore be reminiscent of the tempo in games. They shouldn't rush, but they should aim to establish the same fluid motions at progressively quicker rates without sacrificing form.

Similarly, they can simulate the pressure of keeping the ball away from opponents and maintaining control by practicing driving at different angles, and dribbling before turnarounds or power steps that precede shots. The more realistic the feel of the movements, the more they will prepare the player for game-time.

How Dr. Dish can help

The "tempo" feature on Dr. Dish makes sure that players are always ready to go. They don't have time to pout about a missed shot or rest after 5 makes in a row. The next ball is coming. This is important when training because there are too many distractions that can cause players to lose focus. Dr. Dish won't allow this to happen. 

With Dr. Dish Skill Builder, you can choose or create complete training programs for your players. This allows you to choose the tempo that they work out on. By assigning specific workouts to specific players, you can now ensure they are training at game-like tempo. At the end of the workout, all the player needs to do is click "upload" and their entire stats will sync to the Dr. Dish Training Management System. This allows for incredible accountability. 

2. Vary Shot Selection

While there’s nothing wrong with practicing the corner three or the mid-range jumper if it needs work, a full practice incorporates many types of shots. In a solo practice on an empty court, no one is there to challenge a player, force them back, or prevent a close lay-up. In a game though, shots won’t be that easy, and close-ups may be unavailable or made under pressure. Accordingly, let your players know the importance of varying their shot selection on an empty court, and gaining familiarity with less comfortable shots like fadeaways or turnarounds.

How Dr. Dish can help

This is where the Dr. Dish All-Star can provide incredible assistance. This is the only shooting machine designed with a swivel net system to dish out the ball at various locations on the court, saving time, and allowing for a wide array of shots in terms of angle and distance. There's virtually no offensive shot that Dr. Dish can't train! Watch game-like Dr. Dish drills in action.

The machine simulates passes without coaches or players needing to be present, creating a realistic atmosphere and saving time and energy. Dr. Dish also records shots based on position, time, and shots made and missed, and can be recorded with a mobile device for player and coaching review on the Dr. Dish Training Managment System.

Dr. Dish offers players the best in technology, and helps them perfect the catch-and-release motion and shooting repetitions. When game-time comes, your players will feel more comfortable receiving passes and taking well-developed shots.

Keep up the Pace

In an empty gym, your players have time to stop, pause, and rest. Taking a break is responsible after awhile, it’s important players stay hydrated and don’t push past their limits. Still, it’s best to encourage your players not to cut solo practices short, and to work with an intensity comparable to that of team practice. In the game, your players will have to run the court and still have enough energy to drive, dart in for a steal, and keep up with the opponent they are defending. Although no one is around to push them on an empty court, let your players know it’s important to train for stamina, and to keep up an impressive pace.

Your players know they won’t be asked to keep up the pace indefinitely: a realistic game simulation includes pauses, just as games have during timeouts, freethrows, and substitues. Still, when game-time comes, your players should feel comfortable with the rigor of the game, and should not exhaust easily. If they’ve been practicing at the same level of intensity solo as they need to exert in games, they should feel comfortable with the stamina they’ve built up.

How Dr. Dish can help

With the integrated Polar heart rate monitor paired with every Dr. Dish Smart Model (Pro & All-Star), you can always ensure your players are training at game speed when they are shooting on Dr. Dish! There are no cutting corners or cheating any basketball drills with the accountability of the heart-rate tracker. Again, these stats and analytics can be easily uploaded to the Dr. Dish Training Management System for review.


Playing in an empty gym doesn’t feel like playing in a game, but it can still prepare your players. Remind them to simulate timing, shot selection, and pacing, in order to prepare them for the rigors of game day, and they will make the most of their solo practices. And remember, at Dr. Dish Basketball, we're here to help! Always train hard, train smart, and train with a purpose.

See how NDSU Basketball is using Dr. Dish to make better coaching decisions in games!

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