Defensive Drills

Roll-out close-outs

Start out standing approximately 15 feet away from another player (you could also do this drill without a ball, by simply pretending there is an offensive player). Roll the ball to the offensive player then take 2-3 explosive running steps then perform a “closeout” on the shooter.


Lane slides

Begin on one side of the lane, just outside of the lane, facing away from the basket in a defensive stance. Maintaining your defensive stance, slide straight across the lane until you get both feet outside of the lane on the other side. Slap the ground when you get outside of the lane, then slide back to the other side, and repeat.


Slides w/45 degree angle(zigzag drill)

beginning at the baseline, in the corner of the court in a defensive stance. Be sure you are facing the baseline that is right in front of you (so your back is to the entire court). Begin to defensive slide gently backward in a straight line from the corner, to the elbow. Once they have reached the elbow, do a quick reverse pivot, dropping the left foot back, and slide back toward the sideline at a 45 degree angle (this is approximately the same angle you slide at to get from the corner to the elbow). Continue doing this back and forth motion down the entire length of the court.


Trace and jab drill

The trace drill and the jab drill are great drills to improve before-the-dribble defense. This drill starts with one offensive and one defensive player. The offensive player has a ball, but will not dribble. They will simply move the ball into various positions (move ball overhead, sweep across the ground), jab-step, pump fake, and pivot. The defender must trace the ball with his hands without coming out of their defensive stance. The defender must also maintain their distance and take away space from the offensive players. For example, if the offensive player jab steps, the defender should use a quick hop backwards. If the player than pump fakes, the defensive player should quick hop forward with raised hands (still maintaining the defensive stance). Variation: Add one to two dribble in each direction so the defender must slide as well.


Live defensive slides

This drill is similar to the slides w/45 degree angle drill. In this drill there is one defensive player and one offensive player. The defensive player will basically be doing the slides at a 45 degree angles just as in the zigzag drill, however this time there is an offensive player. They are confined to the width from the sideline to the lane line, and the dribble in the zigzag pattern forcing the defender to guard them. The offensive player’s goal is not to burst by the defender and race to the other end, however they should go back and forth using moves and attempting to get the defensive player off balance. The defender must keep their balance and try to force the offensive player back and forth while maintaining their defensive stance and defensive principles.


Turn drill

In this drill there is one defensive player and one offensive player. The goal of the offensive player is to beat the defender and get to the other end of the court. The goal of the defender is to force the offensive player to turn (change directions) as many times as they can. The offensive player starts on the baseline and has to make it to the other baseline. The player who forces the most turns wins. Do not always use the same partners if you don’t have to, it is best to mix up matches. This drill teaches defenders to take the correct angle to cut off a dribbler, and to improve their footwork in a full out sprint situation.


Coach point – slide

This drill can be done with just one player or an entire team. Start out in a big open area, with plenty of space to go in any direction (if there are multiple players, make sure no two players are too close to each other). One coach/trainer/other player is needed to lead the drill. On the first “Go” or whistle from the coach, all players get in a defensive stance. On the second whistle, all players should “foot fire” (this is chopping your feet as quickly as possible while not moving in any direction AND maintaining a defensive stance). From there the player(s) watch the coach and the coach then points in any direction left, right, forward, backward, diagonal…If the coach points left, right, or diagonal, the players perform defensive slides in that direction. If the coach points forward or backward the players sprint forward, or back pedal backwards. It continues until the coach blows the whistle twice quickly, or yells stop.


Monkey in the middle (Post to wing)

Three players are required for this drill. One player is on the block (preferable a big man), one player is on the wing, and one is guarding the player on the wing. The player on the wing has the ball. The player on the block is posting up. The wing player must enter the ball into the post while the defender pressures him as hard as possible, trying to steal or deflect the ball. Once the ball goes into the post, the defender should go down and pressure the post, again trying to steal or deflect the ball. Meanwhile, the post player tries to pass the ball out to the wing. The offensive players should not simply “yo-yo” the defender, but should wait for the defender to arrive before attempting to pass (There is no dribbling for the offensive players). This drill teaches players to deflect the ball, pressure the ball, and is also a defensive conditioning.


Double team drills

One offensive player has the basketball underneath the basket in the lane. Two defenders (trappers) are positioned in the lane about 10 feet away from the offensive player. There is another offensive player at half court with a defender guarding them. The two defenders try to trap the dribbler and the defender at half court attempts to deny the offensive player at half court. The object is for the offense to take the ball past half court, and for the defenders to force a turnover. If the offense passes out of the trap, the closest two defenders should trap again, with the third defensive player rotating to take away the passing lane to the other offensive player.


Jump to the ball

Start with offensive player with the basketball at the top of the key or just above the three point line. The defender defends the ball. The coach (or another player) stands at the free throw line extended. Player A makes a pass to the coach on the wing. The defender jumps to the ball (in help defense) immediately, ready to stop the drive of the coach. After the pass, the offensive begins to set up a cut in front of the defender. The defender should be in position so that it is almost impossible for the offensive player to cut ball-side without the defender being able to easily step in their path.


Sprint-Slide-Close out

Facing half court slide approximately 15’ to the right, turn and sprint approximately 15’, again slide 15’ and slide the left, then complete a closeout.


Post front drill

This drill requires an offensive post player, a defensive post player, and one ball handler (player or coach). The purpose of the drill is for the defensive post player not to let the offensive post player catch the ball in an area where they can easily score (about a 6 foot radius from the basket). The defender must understand passing angles as the ball handler moves around to different position on the three point arc. When the ball is on the baseline, the defender must push (without fouling) the offensive player away from the hoop, or front the post (which takes away a drop step move. However the defender must be careful to not be sealed as the ball swings from the baseline to the wing. When the ball is on the wing, the defender should half or 3/4 front the low post from the baseline. The defender straddles the post player with one foot just barely behind and one foot in front of the offensive player with one arm in front to prevent a pass in. When the ball is at the top of the key, the defender must gauge how far the post player is from the hoop and decide whether to step below and around them (only when you have a significant quickness advantage) to front, or if you go behind them to continue to try to push them away from the hoop.


8 second drill

This takes place from half-court to the baseline, however the players may not leave an area of 8-10 feet wide (this is approximately the width of the lane…it is helpful to use cones to mark the area). Player 1 has the ball and must dribble from the baseline to half-court in 8 seconds, without stepping out of bounds, or going outside of the cone. This is both an offensive and defensive drill…defenders work on keeping a man in front, and offensive players work on dealing in tight space with a defender. Variations can include a shorter time span, only being able to dribble with one hand. Defensive player with hands behind back, no fouls called, not being able to do a certain dribble move (i.e. through the legs, spin, etc…)


2 on 1 drill

This drill has 2 offensive players and one defensive player. One offensive player (A), with the ball, is just beyond the three point line along the lane line (so just to the side of the top of the key), the other (B) is on the wing just beyond the three point line (closer to the top of the key than the baseline). The defender (C) starts in the middle of the paint just in front of the basket. Player A is only allowed to dribble to the elbow and shoot (they are allowed only 1 dribble) or pass to Player B. Player B may shoot or drive in an attempt to score. The defender (Player C) must close out on player A with the intention of preventing an easy elbow jumper, then recover to wing to guard the other player. The only way to score is to get a stop (1 point per stop). Defender stays on defense until the offense scores. Rotations go Player C goes to Player A’s spot, Player A goes to Player B’s spot, Player B goes to Player C’s spot.


Defense Gauntlet

3-5 offensive players are on the 3-point line, each has a ball. The defender closes-out on any player…from there the two players’ play 1-on-1. If the offense misses and defense gets the rebound, defense gets 1 point and the drill keeps going, with the defender picking another offensive player and closing-out (If the offensive player scores, the offensive player becomes the defender). The game is played for a set time