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In this week’s Playbook Series, we highlight three proven defensive drills that focus on transition basketball. Competitive and effective at improving defensive recovery, these drills should become staples in your future practice plans.
Never Too Late Drill
Submitted by Will Mayer, Middletown North HS, Middletown, NJ
“Never too late” runs for three minutes before the offensive and defensive players switch off. A coach is on the sideline and inbounds the ball to either player 1 or player 2. Meanwhile, player X2 is starting at the hash mark, gets back on defense while X1, positioned on the opposite foul line, sprints in behind to provide catch-up defense in transition.
Look to put a scoring system in place where an offensive basket counts for one point and a defensive stop or turnover results in minus two points for the offensive team. After both teams have played offense for the three minutes, the team with the least amount of points must run laps.
Two Player Recovery Drill
This next transition drill uses the same time limits and scoring system as the previous drill. Player 1 begins the drill by passing to player 2. Player 2 then passes to player 3. Meanwhile 3 and 4 attack defender X1 in a 2-on-1 situation. X2 must sprint back as soon as X1 makes his or her pass and tries to provide defensive help while on transition.
The offense rotates after each possession in the following manner: 5 goes to 1’s spot, 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to the end of 4’s line, and 4 to the end of 1’s line.
Breakdown drill for 2-2-1 Full Court Press
Submitted by Larry King, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY
This breakdown drill enhances your team’s presses using groups of three players. To begin, there are three offensive players going against three defensive players playing over a full court. O1 starts in the right corner, while O2 and O3 are located at half court, one on each side of the floor. X1 is positioned on the foul line in the backcourt, x2 is at half court, and x3 is at the foul line in the front court.
Restrictions for the offense: O1 must take three dribbles before passing to either O2 or O3. O2 and O3 must catch the first pass in the front court. O2 and O3 cannot cross into the backcourt to catch a pass.
The drill begins with X1 passing the ball back to O1. X1 forces O1 up the right sideline and must prevent O1 from dribbling to the middle of the floor. At the same time, X1 and X2 are trying to trap O1 just before or just beyond half court. X3 is trying to steal the pass that O1 is trying to throw to O2 or O3. If the pass cannot be stolen, X3 must quickly get back under the basket ready to play 1-on-2 against O2 and O3 until X 1 and X2 recover and come back to play help defense.
The goal for the offense is to score in a fast break situation. If there’s no score, the play should evolve into a 3-on-3 contest.
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.
In the latest edition of All-Access, we return to Lexington, Kentucky for an exclusive look inside a University of Kentucky men’s basketball practice. Follow along as head coach John Calipari walks through a number of team defensive drills focusing on charges, stunts, and lunges.
Charges and Loose Balls
First, we’re going to teach players how to dive and take charges. According to Coach Calipari, if players think that if they dive they will get hurt, they will never dive for a ball. Therefore at Kentucky, the coaching staff teaches players to grab the ball like a football player and roll to your back. They now understand that it doesn’t hurt to dive. Plus, the fans go crazy when you do this in games.
It’s essential that players know how to dive and take a charge. In terms of stance, you need to get down and get back. You should be landing on your back and butt with your hands up. If you put your hands down, it’s easier to injure your wrists.
The drill starts with a coach driving to the basket and a player stepping up and taking a charge in the lane. Then this player gets up and dives for a loose ball on his back. You should not hit any elbows. Also, don’t get your hands underneath you. There’s where you can get injured. That’s also why it’s important to practice this stuff.
With this drill, players head down to the corner and are guarding an offensive guy. A coach will drive and as he drives, the defensive player must time his stunt. As the player stunts, the coach throws that pass and the player will look to intercept it. It’s important for players to time this. Also, you need to have an act and let the opponent think you are coming. Stab at him and then go. Do this drill on both sides of the court.
Coach Calipari’s teams will do this lunge drill from the beginning of practice until March or April. It’s vital to teach our players how to guard the basketball. The other stuff is easy because it’s team-oriented. But guarding the ball is about you. When a player drives, look to lunge out whichever way he goes. Follow along below as Kentucky works through sets of single, double, and triple lunges.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Kentucky Basketball Practice 2010-2011” with John Calipari. To check out more college teams in our All Access lineup, visit our basketball DVD 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.
In the latest edition of All-Access, we return to College Park, Maryland for a behind-the-scenes look at a University of Maryland women’s basketball practice. Follow along as head coach Brenda Frese first leads the Terps through an effective rebounding drill before getting into 2-on-2 closeouts. The squad finishes up the action with a competitive full-court layup drill.
Triangle rebounding starts with three defensive players in the paint and facing away from the basket. Three offensive players will line up inside the three-point arc. Each defensive player will start moving around in the paint clockwise until a shot goes up. Once it does, the players yell “Shot” and proceed to box out the nearest offensive player. If the offense gets it, they should look to score.
There are a few ways to make it competitive. If you crash the glass and score, you get a point. If you get an offensive rebound, you get a point. If the defense gets the rebound, they must outlet to a coach right away. Rotate players immediately after the rep is over.
Next up is a 2-on-2 drill focusing on closeouts. Players start on one side of the floor and then must change their defensive positioning based on where the ball is on the perimeter (the ball gets passed from coach to coach). Players must play helpside defense and then be able to closeout off the kick.
There are two major points of emphasis here. First, players should either close out short or close out long. Short means you close out against a driver. Long mean to close out against a three-point shooter. Make them put the ball on the floor and look for opportunities to take charges. Defensively, don’t get beat down the middle. Instead, force your opponent to the baseline.
According to Coach Frese, the players can’t stand this full-court drill but it’s quite effective. The drill starts with an outlet off the backboard and players sprint the length of floor for a layup. The outlet person must follow and get that rebound and run the floor as well. Every layup counts as one. Set a make goal with your team and look to move the bar up.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Maryland Women’s Basketball Practice with Brenda Frese.” To check out more All Access videos in our exclusive collection, visit our basketball library.