The Minute Minder Workout

This past summer I added a new tool to my individual skill workouts that I wanted to share with you all. It’s a simple minute minder timer. Yep, just like the one your grandma uses in the kitchen. The reason I want to share it is because it has made my workouts more efficient, fun and challenging.

Here are a few of the benefits to using a timer during your workout:

  • Track your progress easily. For example: shoot 3’s for 2 minutes and record the number of makes. Do this every day at the end of your workout and chart your improvement. 
  • Eliminate decision fatigue. To get the most out of your workout, you don’t want to rely on your willpower to push you through the exhaustion. That’s a recipe for failure. The timer works helps because it decides for you. The timer decides when you end a drill so you don't have the option of quitting when you feel tired. You end up working harder than you normally would (if you’ve correctly calibrated the amount of time for each drill).
  • Shoot more game-speed shots. The timer forces more realistic shots because it encourages both concentration and speed. If your goal for a shooting drill is a certain number of makes, the incentive is to take your time and make your shots. You’ll concentrate hard but go slow. But if you use the timer and are aiming to beat a certain number of makes, you’ll be focused and quick. Each shot will matter and each shot will be taken closer to game speed. 
  • Fuels inner competition. If you keep your own score for each drill, using the timer allows you to compete with yourself. 


A few recommendations before you start:

  • While you could use your phone as a timer, I STRONGLY urge against it. Adding a phone to the mix invites distractions. And it's more complicated. The minute minder is simple, practical and useful.
  • Experiment with the amount of time for each drill to suit your conditioning level. I prefer shorter intervals and make sure that I’m busting my butt the whole time so that my reps are at full speed. There’s certainly value in shooting when you’re worn out but I tend to focus on brief, high intensity intervals. I feel that it helps train my mind and body to be at full throttle. And if you’re truly going all out, even short drills will test your conditioning. Typically my drills last between 1 and 2 minutes.
  • Choose a skill you want to work on and then crafting a drill that targets that particular skill. 
  • Shoot 2 free throws at the end of each drill while you're tired. 

There are millions of different drills and combinations you can create with the timer. The only thing limiting you is your imagination. 

Here are some shooting drills I’ve used with the minute minder when training by myself:

  • Down screen curl shooting: Set the timer and start underneath the basket. Imagine a down screen being set for you. Sprint off the screen and spin the ball to yourself. Curl around the screen and catch and shoot. Collect your rebound and repeat at a different spot on the court (no block practice!). 
  • Down screen fade shooting: Same set up as down screen curl shooting except plant your inside foot and fade away from the screen. Don’t spin the ball to yourself. Instead, run with the ball in your hands and imagine your teammate passing you the ball as you step into your shot.
  • Corner to corner shooting: Set the timer and start in either corner. Shoot a 3, collect your rebound, sprint to the other corner and shoot another 3. See how many you can make before the timer goes off. 
  • Alternating pull ups and 3’s: Set the timer and start underneath the basket. Sprint out to the 3 point line, spin the ball to yourself and shoot a catch and shoot 3. Collect your rebound and sprint out the 3 point line. Spin the ball to yourself and shoot a 1 dribble pull up. Mix up the type of pull up you shoot. Use jabs, shot fakes etc.
  • Half court transition finishes: Set the timer and start at half court. Attack the basket, making a variety of moves and finish around the rim. No layups! Be creative. Grab your rebound and sprint dribble to half court in as few dribbles as possible, pushing the ball out in front of you with either hand. Touch the line (keeping a live dribble), change direction and repeat the drill. (You can do this drill with one specific finish if you’re interested in measuring improvement over time. For example, just floaters or just goofy foot layups. Just be sure that each repetition has some variability).
  • Triple threat pull ups: Set the timer and start at the 3 point line. Each shot is a pull up out of the triple threat. Use a variety of head fakes, jab steps, ball fakes, sweeps and pivots. Collect your rebound, sprint back out to the 3 point line and repeat. 
  • Triple threat step backs: Same as Triple threat pull ups, but shoot step backs instead.
  • Choose 2: Choose 2 of the following shots and alternate between the two of them: Triple threat pull ups, live dribble pull ups, triple threat step backs, live dribble step backs, catch and shoot 3’s, down screen curl mid range, down screen curl 3’s, Down screen curl attack the basket, down screen fade 3’s, down screen fade mid range, down screen fade attack the basket, catch and shoot 3’s, Pick and Roll (PnR) pull ups, PnR reject the screen pull up, PnR hide behind the screen, PnR attack the basket, PnR reject the screen and attack the basket.

If you think of any drills using the timer please let me know either in the comments below or via email. I'm always looking for new ways to train so your thoughts really help.