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Sean Miller, the University of Arizona Men’s Basketball Coach, explains the responsibilities of help defense and how to properly close out on to the basketball so that you can challenge a shot and contain the dribble at the same time. The ability to close out effectively will make you a great defensive player.
Coach Miller puts a great deal of emphasis on teaching how to properly close out on to the basketball within the high school, grade school, and youth league levels. He stresses that it’s critical to understand the “Ball, You, Man” concept at an early age. Defenders, not playing the basketball, should be in help position and seeing the ball on one side of the floor and the person you’re responsible for guarding on the opposite side of the floor at all times.
Once the ball is in the air and on its way to the person you’re responsible for guarding, you must close out on the ball. When closing out on the ball, you must be quick, but also under control so the offensive player does not blow by you and get into the paint with the dribble. High hands are also crucial when closing out on the ball so that a jump shot can be contested.
1) “Ball, You, Man” while in help position defensively
2) To start your close out begin with your foot which is closest to the man you’re guarding
3) Steps go from big to small when closing out
4) Low body
5) High hands which are bent at the elbow
6) You should be able to reach out and touch the offensive player who possesses the ball
Andy Enfield, the current head coach at USC and former coach at Gulf Coast University, presents a play called “Zipper.” Zipper is a quick play that spreads the floor, incorporates screens, and doesn’t allow the defense time to adjust. This play is recommended when your transition strategy fails to yield a basket.
This drill or play commences with the 1 man dribbling the ball toward the wing (in this case the right) while the 4 and 5 man screen down toward the low post block, while the 2 and 3 man zipper up just beyond the top of the perimeter. Next, the 1 man sprints behind the 4 and 5 man near the baseline toward the opposite wing with the option of driving to the basket or fading to the corner for a jump shot. The end of the “Zipper” play involves the ball being passed to the 1 man on the wing or corner, with the 2 and 3 man taking up position on the weak side corner and weak side wing while the 5 man sets a screen for the 1 man near the elbow. The 4 man sprints up to the weak side top of the key as the 5 man rolls to the basket looking for a lob from the 1 man.
3x Wisconsin State Champion, Jerry Petitgoue, shares the State Passing Drill which his teams perform in practice every day. You can incorporate outlet passes, chest passes, and bounce passes into the drill and it requires players to maintain good spacing, good rotations, and communication.
● 5 players on the court
● Objective is for everyone to score a layup after a pass from the middle.
● Players are not allowed to dribble the ball and there must always be someone in the middle.
● Drill requires players to maintain good spacing, good rotations, and communication.
● You can work on the following passes: outlet passes, chest passes, bounce passes.
● Players start in an “x” formation on the court with a player in the middle with the ball to start.
● Player 1 (P1) in the middle then passes to one of the players (P2) close to the basket who scores and then sprints to the other end of the court. The other player (P3) close to the basket gets the rebound and makes an outlet pass to the P1 who has moved from the middle to the outlet position.
● P4, who is opposite the outlet will flash to the middle and receive a pass from P1. P4 will then pass the ball to P5 on the other end of the court. P2 will get the rebound and make the outlet to P4 and the sequence will start again.
● The player who makes the outlet pass always assumes the middle position once the drill starts.
Frank Allocco, 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game West Squad Head Coach and De La Salle HS Head Coach, shares a Double Team Dribble Drill that creates havoc on the offensive player. The havoc will force the offensive player to keep his head up, utilize a retreat dribble, and work to get lower than the defender.
● Players start on the baseline with a ball and a partner in a typical defensive zig zag drill setup, with one player dribbling against a defender.
● There is another player at half court who will attempt to trap the ballhandler at half court.
● The objective of the ballhandler is to beat the defenders down the court.
● Players should rotate positions within their group.
Bill Self, the University of Kansas Head Basketball Coach, drills the habits of good man-to-man defense everyday with his Shell Drill. In this clip of an early practice, you will see the intensity that he demands from his young Jayhawk team.
Shell Drill: Front the Cutter and Down Screens
In this 4 on 4 version of the classic shell drill, the coach will start with the ball and then pass to an offensive player. The offense is playing live and trying to score out of two situations – one situation is setting a down screen, and the other situation is making a basket cut after making a guard to wing pass. The defense must defend by properly guarding a down screen, and fronting the cutter after jumping to the ball. You will hear Coach Self emphasizing important defensive concepts such as talk, jump to the ball, close out with high hands, and stay in stance.