3 Best Defensive Drills for Basketball

Basketball Defense

Basketball Defense

In basketball, there are two main types of defense, one on one defense and team defense, both of them are indispensable skills when it comes to becoming a good defender.

Today, I’m going to walk you through the 3 best defensive drills for basketball in order to help you become a better overall defensive player.

One on One Defense

If you want to play great one on one defense, there are a couple of things you need to think about, what type of player is your opponent, what are their strengths and weaknesses and how can you guard him effectively based on his tendencies.

If your opponent is a shooter who is good at making perimeter shots than driving towards the rim, instead of daring him to shoot a wide-open shot, your goal is to put pressure on him and force him to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket, which is something he’s not feeling particularly comfortable doing. By doing so, you will have a greater chance of stealing the ball or forcing him to take a tough shot.

On the contrary, if your opponent is skilled in driving in rather than perimeter shooting, he should probably be more explosive and quicker. So, you should separate yourself from him for at least arm’s length in case he accelerates and blow by you easily. By defending this way, not only will you have enough space to stay with him when he drives towards the basket, but also give him a late contest even if he shoots the basketball from long range.

Drills

One on One Close-Out Drill

This drill is performed by two players each time.

  • Purpose

As the name implies, this drill simulates one on one situations during real games, which helps players to improve their ability to close out defenders with the smart way.

Also, this drill can improve your one on one defense and defensive awareness, which is a skill to study the offensive player and anticipate their next move based on their tendencies, strengths and weaknesses.

1. For setup, the defensive player should stay in a low defensive stance at the low post while the offensive player stays in the same direction wing with a basketball.

2. Once the drill starts, sprint to the offensive player as quickly as possible to close out him.

3. Reduce your momentum while maintaining your balance by chopping your steps so that your opponent can’t drive past you easily.

4. Alternate position after a field goal or a defensive rebound.

5. End the drill once either of you gets a score of 7.

  • Points of Emphasis

For offensive players, use no more than three dribbles each time you attack the basket or you commit a turnover.

For defensive players, put one hand up when you’re closing out to contest shot and deflect passes. Use active hands on defense to disrupt his offense and make him feel uncomfortable.

Zig-Zag Drill

This is a high-intensity drill which requires 5 cones, place at the baseline, elbow, half-court line, elbow and baseline respectively, which forms a zig-zag pattern.

The drill has two variations and will be performed by 2 players each time.

  • Purpose

This drill simulates guarding the offensive player who changes direction in full speed, which requires players to stay in a low defensive stance throughout the drills.

This drill can improve your endurance and speed of changing direction. Besides, this drill focuses on picking up and stay with your opponents in transition, which can improve both your one on one defense and your defensive footwork.

  • First Variation:

1. Sprint from the first cone to the second cone while dribbling, the other player will play full-court defense and give pressure on him.

2. Make a crossover move and change directions when you reach the second cone, then sprint to the third cone.

3. Continue until sprinted to the last cone.

4. Alternate possessions and repeat in the opposite direction.

  • Second Variation:

1. Sprint from the first cone to the second cone while dribbling, the other player will play full-court defense and keep putting pressure on him.

2. Make a crossover move and change directions as soon as reaching the second cone, then sprint to the third cone.

3. Once the offensive player gets past the half court line, which is the third cone. Play one on one with the defensive player.

4. Alternate possessions and repeat in the opposite direction.

5. End the drill once either of you gets a score of 7.

  • Points of Emphasis

For offensive players, stay low and go at full speed.

For defensive players, stay low and maintain your balance throughout the drills. Don’t grab your opponent even if you can’t stay with him, sprint back!

Team Defense

Basketball is a team-orientated sport, if you want to win games, having good one on one defense is far from enough.

It may only take hard work and determination to become a good individual defender, but for team defense, it requires a lot more things.

Help Defense

As you well know, the player with the ball is always the most dangerous player, especially when he is driving towards the rim. The best way to stop him from making a field goal is to form a double team, which is to surround him by two defenders and force him to make a turnover or to force a jump ball violation.

In addition, if your opponent is too explosive or mobile, a great way to defend is to force him to drive to only one side of the floor. Once you beat him to that side, call your teammate to play help defense to prevent him from scoring.

Communication

Unless you know how to read minds, communication is key when it comes to a successful team defense.

I’ve noticed that a lot of players only talk to their teammates on offense but remain silence when playing defense. Yet, you have to let your teammates know what you want and what you see, as simple as calling “screen”, “switch” or “double team” will make your team defense significantly better since the only way to play great team defense is to get everyone on the same page and knows what each other are doing.

Drills

Five on Five Close Out Drill

This drill is performed by 10 players each time, five offensive players will be positioned on the two corners, the two wings and the center behind the three-point line respectively.

  • Purpose

Similar to the one on one close out drill, this drill simulates five on five situations during real games, which helps players to improve their close out technique with the smart way.

This drill can improve your communication skills and your help defense awareness, which are both vital when playing team defense.

1. For setup, all five defensive players should stay inside the paint.

2. Once the drill starts, sprint out to the five offensive player as quickly as possible to close out.

3. Reduce your momentum while maintaining your balance by chopping your steps.

4. Put pressure on your opponent for 1 – 2 seconds then back-pedal to the painted area.

5. Sprint out to the next player in an anticlockwise direction.

6. Once every defensive player closes out all five players, the coach will pass the basketball to an offensive player randomly and play five on five.

7. Alternate position after a field goal or a defensive rebound.

8. End the drill when one team has a score of 7.

  • Points of Emphasis

For offensive players, use no more than three dribbles each time you attack the basket or you commit a turnover.

For defensive players, focus on communicating with your teammates as well as playing help defense if your teammate gets beat off the dribble. Don’t just stand and watch even if you’re not guarding the ball, put one hand up when you’re closing out to contest shot and deflect passes.

Conclusion

My coach often use these drills to practice our defense, he always say defense is the top priority in basketball, not only can it helps you win games, but also gain you more minutes on the court.

I hope this article can help you understand more about defending in basketball. If you have any questions, please let me know and I’m happy to help you out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close