Fundamental Defense: A Pair of Highly Effective 3-on-3 Drills

Pick up a pair of proven defensive basketball drills from Northern Iowa head men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson. These “fundamental” drills are considered crucial pieces of Jacobson’s practice plans throughout the basketball season (Yes, even in March) and are considered to be very effective tools for improving team defensive play.

Numbers Rebounding Drill

Overview/Set-up: Start in a 3-on-3 format and get the ball up top. There will be three defensive players in the middle of the lane facing away from the basket, almost stacked but spaced apart by a foot. Meanwhile, there are three offensive players around the horn, two in opposite corners, and one up top.

The Action: The first defensive player is 1, the second is 2, and the third is 3. Those are their assigned numbers. The coach will pass the ball to one of the three offensive players around the horn. The coach will also call out a number. That assigned player will then go out and contest the basketball. For example, if the coaches passes it to the top and calls out 1, the first player will come out with high hands and contest the shot. The remaining players will communicate and then split and block out to get the rebound. As for the offensive players, all they do is catch the ball and shoot.

Coaching Points and Tips: When blocking out, whichever way the offensive guy goes, it’s important to get our contact and ride with him. If he goes to the middle of the floor, we must front pivot, put a forearm in his chest, ride with him, open up, put your tailbone into his legs, and block out from there. Then go get the rebound. If the offensive player goes baseline, we need to pivot, get inside the man, ride with him, and then go get the ball. Fight until you come up with it.

Defensive Drill

Set-up: In this 3-on-3 defensive drill, three offensive players will set up around the horn with three defenders as well. The ball starts up top midway between the top of the key and half court.

The Action: The drill starts with an advantage for the ball handler. He will drive it hard to the hoop until he gets stopped. The defender’s job is to catch up and get things leveled off. The help defenders must stay and help.

After a pass to either wing, the new ball handler will sweep and drive baseline as hard as they can. Our job defensively is to cut this off. We can do this in two ways: Work on taking a charge OR cut them off and hold your ground. Next, the ball handler will pass it baseline to his opposite teammate. From here, the help defender will look to bat that pass down. After the deflection, a coach will take a second ball and pass it to the opposite wing player. Finally, players will scramble, recover, and the action is now live from this spot.

Goal: Get a stop out of this, whether through a knockdown, steal, rebound, charge, etc.

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

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