Team Defense: Two Command Drills to Boost Practice Productivity

In the latest team concepts feature, Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Hurley reveals two of his most effective defensive drills. Used frequently by the St. Anthony’s (NJ) basketball program, the following drills prepare players for a variety of game-like scenarios on the defensive end — including odd-man situations, charges, and giving a foul. These drills are a must for any basketball program.

Command Drill

In the “Command Drill”, start by having players get a ball and a partner. Give the players four commands in their stance.

Contest – This means the offense must bring the ball down and eventually take a jump shot and the defense must contest that shot. Players must get their hands up and aggressively contest the shot.

Charge – Set your man up and draw a charge.

Five Seconds – The dribbler will make a backup dribble and the defender must stay on his man tight while the five-second count is still on.

Give a Foul – Practice giving a foul.

Watch below as Coach Hurley runs through each command in the drill with a group of players.


5-on-5 Command Drill

The 5-on-5 Command Drill is similar to before, but a little bit different. Get a two-guard front, two forwards, and a center and go 5-on-5. The offense will look to pass the ball around but now the coach is going to implement 5-on-5 commands.

Drive – The on-ball defender must hit the closest line and everyone else plays 5-on-4. The defense must help each other and play out the scenario live. Stop the ball immediately. Look to push the ball sideline and baseline. This command really works on getting a defense prepared for those odd-man scenarios in a game.

Switch – The defense switches to offense in this case. Communication and rotation is critical to success here.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD Bob Hurley’s Practice Planning & Program Development.” To check out more videos featuring Bob Hurley, simply head over to our basketball library.  

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