Behind the Scenes UConn Basketball Practice: Backdoor Cuts & Defensive Zig Zags

In this behind-the-scenes look, we travel to Storrs, Connecticut for a glimpse inside a University of Connecticut women’s basketball practice. Follow along as head coach Geno Auriemma leads his squad though a number of team drills, including backdoor cuts and defensive zig zags. 

Backdoor Cuts

With backdoor cuts, it’s essential to time these so we catch the ball and then throw a backdoor cut at the same time. For this particular drill, ball handlers should look to cross half court opposite of where we want to set up the offense, crossover, and then make our play before we reaching the other dotted line.

It only works if all three people work together effectively, so stay wide and spread the floor more. The wider you are, the better you will be. If you get wide, you will know immediately if you are being overplayed (especially if your opponent comes out beyond the three-point line).

To recap, one player dribbles up from half court, crosses over, and passes to a flashing player at the elbow. This player then immediately dishes off to a cutting wing player toward the hoop for a layup. There is also the option to dish back to the original ball handler for a layup or jumper.

Tips: Ball handlers must always follow their first pass. Also, make that cut so you can get the ball back for a shot or layup. Make the cut every time regardless of what your teammate ends up doing.


Zig Zags

For this drill, players will go 1-on-1 down the court in zig zags. While the offense works on their ball handling, the defense must work on defensive slides and strong transition play. Do not just go through the motions. Don’t make this drill pointless with predictable movements. There is no point to it unless you do it exactly as you would in a game.

The defensive player should be taking the offensive player where they want without touching. To help, put your hands behind your back and use your feet to get where you need to go. Get your head right on the opposing player’s elbow. When you get to the lane, use your feet in order to turn the offense. Dictate where you want them to go.

Tips: Stay down low and always move your feet. Get your hands back. The offense should use this opportunity to work on ball handling. Don’t go so fast that you lose control. Stay balanced.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All-Access Practice with Geno Auriemma.” To check out more videos featuring Coach Auriemma, click here.


with the zig zag drills, the dribler will still be moving , why cant he be stopped from moving into the danger spot where he can drive very fast past the defense

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