Reader-Submitted Drill of the Week: “Sage 4-on-4 Cutthroat”

Submitted by Brian Barnes, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, The Sage Colleges

The Set-Up: Divide into three teams with a coach on the baseline with a basketball. Four defensive players will start underneath the basket. Four offensive players will start out on the perimeter. Two will be in each corner and two will be about three feet off the lane-line and outside of the three-point line. Finally, the third team fills in behind the offensive players and will wait to come on.

The Action: The coach throws the ball to one of the offensive players and yells “Close Out.” The defensive team will close out hard to the ball or help. Play is now live.

How to Award Points: A point is awarded for a defensive stop. If the defense gets a stop, they stay on defense and the new offense comes on. If the offense scores a basket or gets fouled in the act of shooting, they will become the new defensive unit.

There will always be a new team on offense after each possession. As for fouls on the ground, we check up with the same two teams and close out again. Also, if there’s one offensive rebound in a possession, the defense cannot be awarded a point. However, if they get a stop, you can play the same two teams again. If there are two offensive rebounds in a possession, this will send the defensive group to the end of the line and the offensive group becomes the new defensive unit.

The Kicker: Additionally, the coaching staff can kick off the defense at any point for not executing any of the defensive principles you are looking to use to build your man defense. For instance, our coaches will kick off a defensive unit that doesn’t close-out properly, doesn’t apply strong ball pressure, lacks communication, allows dribble splits or dribble penetration down the middle, or doesn’t defend screens properly.

Summary: This is a terrific drill to build your man-to-man team defense. It’s competitive and the players love it – especially the aspect of removing a team from defense for not executing what you are looking to implement. In other words, it creates a great learning environment. Rarely do we kick the same team off twice in a row for making the same mistake.

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