Ben Jacobson’s teams at Northern Iowa are known for being tough to score on. In this practice drill, the defense is forced to defend at a high level for a full 35 seconds before they can get out of the drill. This is a great drill to build up intensity and competitiveness.
Drill Summary: Split into two teams of five. This is a live drill. The goal is for the defense to prevent the offense from scoring for 35 seconds consecutively. If the offense scores a bucket or gets an offensive rebound, reset the clock back to 35 seconds. If the defense gets a rebound or forces a turnover, stop the clock and give the ball back to the offense. Play until there’s no time left on the clock.
Keys to the Drill:
1) Tight defense.
2) Good box outs.
University of Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson led the Panthers to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title in 2015 thanks to an efficient offense and stifling defense. In this drill, you’ll learn how Coach Jacobson teaches his players to defend cuts and baseline drives.
Drill Summary: In this version of the popular shell drill, four players space out evenly around the perimeter and four players start underneath the hoop. The coach throws a ball to the offensive players and the defensive players race to their appropriate defensive spots on the floor. Whenever a pass is made to one of the offensive players in the corner, the wing closest to the ball cuts down the lane towards the hoop and the defensive player works on fronting the cutter. After players have been through the drill once, allow the corner offensive players to drive baseline. When a player drives baseline, their defender forces them to the baseline and the back side defender steps up to cut off the ball. The next lowest defender steps down to take away the baseline pass to the opposite corner and the last defender gets to “center field” where he can see both of the other offensive players.
Keys to the Drill:
1) Front the cutter.
2) Help side position.
Take your practices to another level with these competitive team drills that focus on man-t0-man defensive concepts. Watch your defensive play improve as your squad responds to these demanding but exciting drills. Northern Iowa head men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson walks you through each drill before letting his players go full speed for multiple reps.
Paint Touch Drill
We start off with this engaging 3-on-3 drill in a half court setting. The goal for defenders: Don’t get beat baseline and keep the ball out of the paint. Look to level it off coming to the middle. Meanwhile, offensive players are working to put the ball in the paint with the dribble. Their goal is to touch the paint as many times as they can OR beat the defense baseline. Your coach should keep track of paint or baseline touches.
Notice that Coach Jacobson places a big emphasis on the angle of approach defensively. Click here to watch Jacobson explain more about this effective individual technique.
Coaching Point: Get your team to rally around charges and loose ball recoveries every time it happens in practice.
How to Turn the Paint Touch Drill into a Competitive Drill:
Give the players 15 seconds per simulation. If the ball gets to the baseline or touches the paint, you count up the points earned. The number of times that happens in the 15 seconds would equate to the number of lines players would have to run.
Seven Point Drill
In this 5-on-5 drill, the defense gets two points for a loose ball recovery or a charge taken and one point for a stop. Meanwhile, the offense gets two points for an offensive rebound, points for any score, and one point if fouled.
The offense has a distinct advantage in this one. The first team to get to 7 points is the winner. If the defense doesn’t get the charges or recoveries, they must get 7 stops before the offense gets about two or three baskets.
This drill really works on that mentality that a team will hang its hat on defense. What’s it going to take to get to 7 points before the offense does?
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.
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.
Looking for ways to increase intensity and toughness on the defensive side of the ball? In this week’s team concepts feature, Northern Iowa head basketball coach Ben Jacobson reveals three energetic man-to-man defensive drills that will provide a solid foundation for your practices.
Overview: This first drill works on technique and building the mindset that “We will guard the basketball.” It’s a great drill to do during the first few months of practices.
How it Works: Start in the far baseline corner. When players get to the elbow, they should make a jump stop. After this, make a reverse pivot, make three defensive slides, turn, and sprint to half court. Make a jump stop at half court. Then make a defensive slide all the way across half court. Next, repeat but on the other side of the court. Finish by sliding across the baseline to your original starting point.
Keys to the Drill:
-Shoulders and head must stay level. Widen your hands out.
-On jump stops, make sure your feet are wider than your shoulders.
-Players should say, “Push push push” while making a slide. Talk the entire time.
This is one of Coach Jacobson’s favorite drills. An offensive player starts at half court and must get the ball to the end line. They are NOT trying to score. The offensive player must stay inside the free throw line extended area on both sides. He/she only has this alley to get the ball to the endline. Defensively, it’s all about working on technique and avoiding fouls. There will be some contact, but it’s essential to do this drill without fouling.
Tips: Start with the dribble alive. Turn the defender as many times as you can. Any time the ball goes outside the lane lines, you must move back three feet and start again. Keep your feet on the ground with hands wide. Rotate through three offensive guys and then switch defenders.
For this final drill, it’s a similar set-up to the last drill except now we are starting from the wing area and the offensive player is looking to score.
Defensively, don’t get beat baseline. Look to level the dribble off going toward the top of the key. Trace the basketball with one hand. It’s the job of the defender to stop the offense with a loose ball recovery, charge, or defensive rebound. The offensive player only has three dribbles. Look to go through three offensive players before switching out. Defenders, get those hands up and chest out on every shot.