One of the saddest things in basketball is that some of the most important jobs in the game often get little or no credit. The saying goes defense wins championships, but scoring sells tickets. And for this reason players who excel in setting great screeners, rebounder, and the lockdown defenders rarely get the love and admiration from the media and with the fans.
One of the most disrespectful things I hear while watching games on television is when a commentator says that being good at defense is just about effort. And while that’s a huge part of it, it’s not just about trying hard. And saying so is an insult to the great defenders who spend extra time perfecting that skill. Being a good defender is almost always considered an act of toughness, determination, and will. Most people act as if defense is a choice and anyone who commits to it can be a good defender!
Don’t get me wrong it takes less skill to make an impact on the defensive end of the floor. But the notion that being a great defender is simply a choice is false. Being a great defender certainly requires grit and determination, but it also requires correct skill and technique. To be good on defense you need good footwork, foot positioning, playing angles, hand quickness, and timing. With this in mind the first step in building a better team defense is improving your individual defense.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN IN THIS POST
How to perform some of the most effective defensive drills around.
Why individual defense is the building blocks to great team defense.
Why working on defense can lead to big game time results.
How to improve your individual and team defense
1 on 1 continuous
The first offensive player starts at the block. The defender goes into three-quarter denial from the high side.
The offensive player cuts hard to the three point line usually with a V-cut or L-cut to receive the ball while the defender closes out on the catch.
They play one on one until a score, steal or defensive rebound. The offensive player is only allowed four dribbles.
If the offensive player scores he/she goes on defense and the next player up is on offense.
If the defense gets a stop they stay on defense and the next player in line is next on offense.
You play to a predetermined amount of points, you get points for stopping the offensive player so every time you get a defensive rebound or steal you get a point.
A fast-paced and competitive drill with focus on attacking the defender from a close out and being able to guard the opposition in isolation. 1 on 1 play is fantastic for defensive development. You can also use this drill for post defense by just having the offense post up with the defense trying to get a stop.
2. Shell drill
Have four players line up along the three-point line, two on the wings, and two on the baseline, with a coach at the top of the key.
Have four defenders line up along the baseline, along with another coach underneath the hoop.
The coach underneath the hoop will have a basketball, and when he passes it up to the top of the key, the defenders will all sprint and close out their men.
After that, the coach at the top of the key will pass the ball to one of the offensive players, and all the defenders will need to slide accordingly. If guarding the ball you should close out and pressure the ball. 1 pass away you should deny your man the ball. 2 passes away you should be in help side defense. 3 passes away you should be close to the mid court line help side.
The players continue to pass the ball around the perimeter, forcing the defense to move from position to position
Once the players have gotten the hang of the rotations make the drill tougher by giving the offense 2-3 dribbles to try and score against the defense. This forces help and recover
To ensure players are aware of everything happening on the court, they should be able to see both their man and the ball at all times it can be helpful for players to point at the ball and their man to make sure they always keep them both in their peripheral vision. A very important aspect of a good team defense is communication, and this drill is a good chance to reinforce those habits. Players should yell out their position on each pass is made Help, Deny, and Ball.
3. 5 on 4 transition defense
Five offensive players are across the baseline.
Five defensive players are across the free throw line extended.
The coach passes the ball to one of the offensive players.
The defensive player whose man received the ball have to touch the baseline before getting back on defense.
The other four defensive players immediately sprint back.
The four defenders must slow the offense in a 5-on-4 situation until the other defender can recover and they can match up 5 on 5.
The offense pushes the ball and runs the floor looking to score quickly before the defense can recover.
This is a great drill for preparing for transition defense which is one of the hardest things to guard in basketball especially with the rise of the three point shot. It used to be that if you had the numbers in your favor on offense you were trying to get a layup. But now with analytics and the popularity of the 3 point shot we now have players fast breaking to get a 3 point shot this makes transition defense much harder because you now have much more ground you have to cover.
4. zig zag cone sprint, close out, slide back pedal
Cones are set up in a zig zag formation the length of the basketball court with the players in a line behind the first cone.
The first time through the cones each player is sprinting and closing out to the next cone with high hands and chopping down there feet on balance.
Next time through the cones each player is defensive sliding from cone too cone. When they reach a cone they should drop step their high foot to point at the next cone and slide.
Now they are back pedaling through all the cones.
Lastly the players are mixing up all the motions. Sprint to the first cone, slide to the second cone, and back pedal to the third cone and repeat.
This is a great drill because it focuses on the most popular movements you will be doing on defense. This is also good for conditioning as you are always moving and always doing a defensive movement.
5. box out defensive rebound drill
Place the ball directly underneath the basket.
One defensive player is facing a one offensive player.
The coach yells shot.
the offensive player tries to run and get the basketball
the defensive player makes contact and box out the offensive player for as long as he/she can.
This rebounding drill is highly competitive, and it helps players improve on the offensive and defensive rebounding. Defensive players should shoot for keeping the offensive player from the ball for 5 seconds.
ARE YOU READY TO BECOME A GREAT defender?
If you go to the gym, most of the time all you’ll see is players working on their offensive game. Rarely do you see players working on defense. Thats because offense is cool and its fun, while defense is hard and often times not rewarding. But if you commit to being a great defensive player it can keep you on the court for more minutes because coaches love lock down defenders. And its easier than you think to be one of the best at it because virtually no one practices it or gives any effort to improving in this area.
You being a great defender not only helps you but it makes your team better. Getting steals and forcing the offense to take bad shots helps your team get more transition opportunities. And transition is the easiest way to score, stopping the other team from scoring while also giving your team more and easier opportunities to score. So don’t waste any more time get out there and work on your defense.
Wilson Evolution Basketball- The best basketball on the market
Wilson X Connected Smart Basketball- Ball tracks your makes, misses, and distance. It also has some fun games as well.
Old School Grit- The willpower to persevere with passion and a sense of purpose is what matters most in whether a person succeeds or fails, is what this book is all about.
How To Be Better At Basketball In 21 Days- This book has basketball drills that can help you develop basic skills, tips on how to increase your basketball shooting accuracy, and how to toughen your mental state so that you play with confidence, courage, and control.
Audible- You can listen to them if you don't like to read
QUESTION — Have a question about Basketball? Post a comment on one of our social media pages !
DISCLAIMER: This blog contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission at NO extra cost to you. This helps support BYL and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for the support!