Everyday Drills: 3-on-3 Shell with Ben Jacobson

Northern Iowa head men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson is a big believer in constantly working on fundamental drills throughout the year. This 3-on-3 Defensive Shell Drill is one of Coach Jacobson’s favorite and most effective overall drills, a tool he uses every day to help build his team’s defense.

3-on-3 Defensive Shell

The Set-Up: Get a player guarding the ball. The other two defensive players are just off the opposite elbows and playing in a help position. Meanwhile, the two other offensive players are on the wings to begin. Start things off by passing the ball to the wing. Next, as the ball is moved to the wing, the guy at the point will set up just off that elbow. The opposite defender will set up just below that midline in the paint with his ballside foot slightly forward.


  • Be square on the ball
  • Don’t get beat baseline
  • Don’t shade
  • Stay between the ball and the basket


Start the drill with all three defenders inside the lane line and facing a coach with the ball under the basket. The coach will throw the ball out to any of the three offensive players. Make sure that players yell out BALL as they approach their opponent. Other players should get into their help positions. Next, make 4 or 5 passes and then rotate. Be sure to move fast between reps. Also, there should be no dribbling for the offense to start.

Angle of Approach: When the ball gets thrown from the top to the wing, it’s important to maintain a proper angle of approach to get to the basketball. In other words, we must get underneath the ball and approach head on. Therefore, players should first step down the floor. Now, they will be able to approach so they go head on with their weight back and both hands high and yelling “Ball.” The angle is something players must really work at. Also, don’t approach on the high side or else you can easily get beat baseline.

Guard the Dribble

When it comes to guarding the dribble, the goal for the offense is to look to drive and get two feet in the paint with the basketball. As for wing players, their job is to beat defenders baseline or turn to the middle and get into the paint. If you do drive it, you must return to where you started and stay there. There should be no screening or moving.

Look to go 12 seconds and have the defense keep the ball out of the paint and guard the baseline. Rotate after the 12 seconds. The overall amount of seconds that the offense gets into the paint determines how many sprints the defense must do after the drill.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Ben Jacobson: Fundamental Drills for Basketball Practice.” To check out more basketball DVDs featuring drills for both offense and defense, head over to our basketball library


What makes you think everyone denies one pass away? Sagging man to man or the “pack line” D come to mind. You could easily adapt the drill to reflect your perimeter defensive preferences. It isd a nice change up to the traditional 4 on 4 shell that most coaches use. It is fast paced and keeps the kids moving and thinking.

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