A Basketball Defense Drill to build your defense on

Let’s be honest – when you turn on sportscenter, there are never going to be any highlights of 18 seconds of tight, fullcourt defense, nor any basketball defense drill for your practice. It’s three pointers, dunks, passes – maybe a shot block if you’re lucky. But while it may not get you on television, it will get you in a much more important place – the winners circle.

When it comes to playing tight perimeter defense, there are two things to work on – off ball defense, and on ball defense, and they are both incredibly important if you want to build a steel curtain around the three point arc.

One on one full court basketball defense drillHere are two of our favorite basketball defense drills.

Full Court One on One Basketball Defense Drill

The first drill, to work on on-ball defense, is called full court one on one. It’s a simple drill, allowing players to go mano-e-mano over the full length of the court, giving them a chance to work on both skill development, and conditioning.

To ensure that the matchups are as even as possible, match players up with others who are similar in both size and skill – no one is going to get better if the center and point guard are matched up for example.

To start, the offensive player will line up underneath the hoop with a basketball. The defensive player will start on the dotted line, ready to go.

The player underneath the hoop will then attack, trying to beat the defender and score a hoop, using the foul lane lines as boundaries. Then the next pair will step in and do the same. Once every pair has had a chance to go through, switch offense to defense and let them head down, continuing to switch until one player has scored two baskets, at which point they win and move over to the sideline.

It’s also important to emphasize that the defense cannot gap. They must stay tight, trying to poke away at the ball and keeping the pressure on the ballhandler. If you’re having the opposite problem, of a defender playing too tight, let the players know that for every foul they commit they lose a point, and they’ll back off pretty quickly.

The beauty of this drill is that while it’s great for the defensive side of the ball, it is also a really good drill for the offense as well. The ballhandler should be looking to make one or two moves and then beat his man down the court to the rim for a layup – no dillydallying, dribbling the ball back and forth over and over, or settling for a jumpshot.

deny and deflect basketball defense drillDeny and Deflect Basketball Defense Drill

When we think about pressure defenses, our first instinct is to think of a lockdown on ball defender, pestering away at an overwhelmed ballhandler. But the truth is that the real key to pressure defense all happens off-ball.

We also often believe that athleticism is the key to playing a pressure defense, but this is a fallacy as well. While its true that athleticism will play a part, I believe that when it comes down to it, technique, stamina, and effort will ultimately be much more important.

To help our players develop these skills, we put them through what is called the Deny and Deflect drill. The offense will line three players out around the perimeter, with the defense matching up accordingly, and the offensive player at the top of the paint starting with the ball.

When the coach signals, the drill will start, with the wing players doing everything they can to get open, and the defense doing their best to deny and get their hands on the ball. The goal for the offense is to complete 15 passes in a row – the goal for the defense is to get a steal or even just deflect the ball. If they are able, they will then switch over to offense, and try to make 15 passes of their own.

At the beginning of the drill, only allow the offense to use cuts. Once the defense has gotten the hang of it, you can now allow the offense to set off ball screens. This forces the defense into a much more difficult, much more game like situation, where they are forced not only to do their own jobs well, they also need to communicate effectively with their teammates.

This is a defensive development drill, but it’s also a conditioning drill. And as such, it can be pretty exhausting – if you can, keep a fourth player over on the sideline ready to sub in every couple minutes. And if the offense is getting to 15 too easily, don’t be afraid to adjust the pass ceiling to a higher number to really test their skills.

If you’d like more help with your half-court offense, make sure you check out our selection of downloadable Basketball Playbooks.

Or if you need help with skill development, check out our Basketball Drillbooks – packed with fun and effective practice ideas your players will love!

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