Basketball Defence Drills

The Defense section will help improve your game when you do not have possession of the ball.

Jump to the Ball

The aim is to improve defensive positioning. Start with 2 offensive players at the top of the key, one either side and 2 more offensive players in the wing positions. Defenders start by the offensive players in the correct position.

Coach can then give 3 commands, ‘in’, ‘out’, or ‘over’. The ‘in’ command relates to one of the players at the top of the key passing the ball to the wing on the same side. The ‘out’ command is the ball being passed back to the top of the key. The ‘over’ command is the ball being passed from one key player to the other.

As the ball is passed around each defender must move, if your direct opponent passes the ball, you have to ‘jump to the ball’, this means following the direction of the ball. This movement should get you into position to give help on the ball and defend a cut from your opponent.

Reverse roles and repeat drill

Progressions:

  • Increase speed
  • Introduce more offensive and defensive players.

Coaching Points

  • In a strong defensive position, a player would have a wide base and knees slightly bent with arms out in front and palms facing forward towards opposing player or the ball.

Advance, Retreat or Swing

The aim is to improve defensive footwork. The coach starts on the half court line. The team stands a few strides back, facing the coach, making sure they have an arms-length of room in all directions. Each player gets in a strong defensive position with their left foot forward.

The coach can either call out advance, retreat, or swing. Whichever command is given the players have to react to and execute the correct step.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed
  • Get a player to dribble a ball slowly down the court, changing direction, and the other players have to react to these changes in direction and carry out the correct defensive step.

Coaching Points

  • In a strong defensive position, a player would have a wide base and knees slightly bent with arms out in front and palms facing forward towards opposing player or the ball.
  • Advance step – Push off the back foot while taking a step forward with the other foot, and slide the back foot forward. To maintain balance feet should stay shoulder-width apart.
  • Retreat step – Push off the front foot, and take a step back with the other foot, and slide the front foot back.
  • Swing step – Pivot on the back foot, and swing the front leg around towards the offensive player. This will regain the position of the defender being between the attacker and the basket.
  • The defender’s chest should remain facing the ball at all times.
  • Defenders must stay low throughout all steps.

Yell for Contact

The aim is to improve taking a charge, and timing of runs. Player 1 starts at the top of the key and in possession of the ball. Player 2 starts in the extended foul line area. Players 1 and 2 are offensive players, player 3 is a defensive player and starts at the edge of the lane, in line with the basket, on the opposite side to player

The drill starts with player 1 passing the ball to player 2 and then making a V cut towards the basket. As this happens player 2 starts to dribble the ball towards the basket also, player 3 then runs out into the path of the player 2 but makes contact with player 1 on route. When contact is made player 3 yells or grunts and falls back, to alert the official to the contact.

Rotate players and repeat the drill.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed
  • Change to the other side

Coaching Points

  • It is essential for this drill to work that player 3 runs at the correct time, otherwise, contact will not be made.
  • When using the V cut, the first phase is cutting towards the basket with the inside foot (nearest the basket). It is important to keep the knee flexed, and then turn sharply on the balls of the feet, and push back to outside, and shift weight in opposite direction, and keep moving to the outside.

Open up and Recover

The aim is to improve defensive positioning and movement. Player 1 starts in the midcourt area and in possession of the ball. Player 2 starts at the extended foul line area and is the offensive player. The defensive player is player 3 and they stand in a strong defensive position, facing player 2.

Player 1 dribbles the ball in the direction of player 2. Player 2 then runs away into the lane towards the basket and out the other side of the lane. When player 2 reaches the other side of the lane they V cut back into the lane towards player 1, looking and calling for a pass As player 2 moves across the lane for the first time player 3 must open up, so they can see the ball and player 2. When player 2 V cuts back player 3 tries to recover and stop a pass being made.

Rotate players and repeat the drill.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed
  • Change to the other side

Coaching Points

  • In a strong defensive position, a player would have a wide base and knees slightly bent with arms out in front and palms facing forward towards opposing player or the ball. Short quick steps are generally used, and feet should not be crossed.
  • When using the V cut, the first phase is cutting towards the basket with the inside foot (nearest the basket). It is important to keep the knee flexed, and then turn sharply on the balls of the feet, and push back to outside, and shift weight in opposite direction, and keep moving to the outside.

Opening Up

The aim is to improve defensive positioning and movement. Player 1 starts at the top of the key and in possession of the ball. Player 2 starts at the extended foul line area and is the offensive player. The defensive player is player 3 and they stand in a strong defensive position.

As the offensive player, player 2 must try and make space to receive the ball, one way of doing this is called the V cut. Player 2 can attempt the V cut more than once, but if they cannot make space after a few attempts, they cut towards the basket, run through the key to the other side. As this happens it is player 3’s job to open up so they can see the ball, and be in the ball-defender-attacker position.

Rotate players and repeat the drill.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed
  • Change to the other side

Coaching Points

  • In a strong defensive position, a player would have a wide base and knees slightly bent with arms out in front and palms facing forward towards opposing player or the ball.
  • Short quick steps are generally used, and feet should not be crossed.
  • When using the V cut, the first phase is cutting towards the basket with the inside foot (nearest the basket).
  • It is important to keep the knee flexed, and then turn sharply on the balls of the feet, and push back to outside, and shift weight in opposite direction, and keep moving to the outside.

Recover to Ball

The aim is to improve defensive position, movement, recovery, passing, and dribbling. Player 1 starts with the ball and is an offensive player, and players 1 and 2 stand in one corner of the court. Player 2 is the defensive player. Player 3 starts near the half-court line and is another offensive player.

Player 1 starts to dribble the ball up the court, player 2 must be in the strong defensive position and slide alongside player 1, guarding them.

Player 1 then passes the ball to player 3, player 2 must then follow the path of the ball and guard player 3.

Player 3 then passes the ball back to player 1, forcing player 2 to follow the pass once again to guard player 1.

The ball is once again returned to player 3, making player 2 switch across to cover. Player 3 then throws the ball down court for player 2 to collect.

Reverse the roles, and repeat the drill.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed
  • Change the path

Coaching Points

  • In a strong defensive position, a player would have a wide base and knees slightly bent with arms out in front and palms facing forward towards opposing player or the ball.
  • Short quick steps are generally used, and feet should not be crossed.
  • When sliding keep palms up, around hip level.

Follow The Dribbler

The aim is to improve defensive position, movement, and dribbling. The court is divided down the middle lengthways for this drill. Player 2 is the defender and takes up a defensive stance near 1 corner of the court, Player 1 is the dribbler and stands opposite, and facing player 2, close enough for player 2 to reach out and put his palm on player 1’s chest.

Player 1 must then dribble the ball the length of the court going from the sideline to the middle of the court, in a zigzag fashion.

Player 2 staying in the defensive position must slide alongside player 1 all the way to the other end of the court.

Reverse the roles, and repeat the drill.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed
  • Change the path
  • Player 2 can apply pressure and try to steal the ball, if they do, they become the dribbler.

Coaching Points:

  • In a strong defensive position, a player would have a wide base and knees slightly bent with arms out in front and palms facing forward towards opposing player or the ball.
  • Short quick steps are generally used, and feet should not be crossed.
  • When sliding keep palms up, around hip level.
  • Make sure the defensive player stays close to the dribbler at all times.
  • Defensive player should attempt to keep his body between the ball and the basket.
  • Defensive player can apply pressure to the ball and try and steal it.
  • When pressurizing the ball player 2 should use the hand nearest the direction player 1 is traveling. i.e. if player 1 is dribbling to the left then player 2 should be using their left hand to apply pressure.

On the Move

The aim is to improve defensive position and movement. Player takes up a defensive stance underneath the basket, they then move in the shuffling position up to the foul line. The player then uses the sliding motion to go right, all the way to the sideline.

To move up to the half-court line the player again shuffles and continues across the half-court line to the opposite sideline, sliding as they go. The two movements keep alternating with every new journey. The next stage is from the half-court line down the sid line until level with the foul line. The player then must come in court to the edge of the key and then shuffle backward until they are out of bounds.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed
  • Change the path
  • Add an offensive player for the defense to follow round.

Coaching Points

  • In a strong defensive position, a player would have a wide base and knees slightly bent with arms out in front and palms facing forward towards opposing player or the ball.
  • Short quick steps are generally used, and feet should not be crossed.
  • When sliding keep palms up, around hip level.
  • When shuffling keep one hand up and one down for balance.