Gonzaga Basketball's Defensive Drill

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In basketball, nothing is more embarrassing than getting crossed up and watching your opponent serve up a sick facial on a teammate. Keeping that in mind, Gonzaga University's basketball team, usually known as a well-oiled scoring machine, trains with a special emphasis on defense, which has turned them into a well-rounded national powerhouse.

Mike Nilson, the Zags' men's basketball strength and conditioning coach, says, "We work on improving our individual defense through agility drills that teach our athletes how to decelerate and stop correctly, accelerate and change direction."

Want to cover your opponent like a glove? Try the Close Out Drill, which Nilson puts his players through twice a week.

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In basketball, nothing is more embarrassing than getting crossed up and watching your opponent serve up a sick facial on a teammate. Keeping that in mind, Gonzaga University's basketball team, usually known as a well-oiled scoring machine, trains with a special emphasis on defense, which has turned them into a well-rounded national powerhouse.

Mike Nilson, the Zags' men's basketball strength and conditioning coach, says, "We work on improving our individual defense through agility drills that teach our athletes how to decelerate and stop correctly, accelerate and change direction."

Want to cover your opponent like a glove? Try the Close Out Drill, which Nilson puts his players through twice a week.

Close Out Drill with Partner

Begin each rep underneath basket; follow each with a 15-second rest.

Progression I: Partner stands at top of key

• Sprint to top of key; breakdown
• Return to start position
• Perform 5 reps

Progression II: Partner takes one step

• Sprint to top of key, then slide a few steps left
• Return to start position; perform to right
• Perform 5 reps to each side

Progression III: Partner drives to basket

• Sprint to top of key; react to direction partner moves
• Return to start position
• Perform 5 reps

Nilson on closing out

Approach the offensive player with control, using smaller steps to decelerate. Remain balanced and keep your head and shoulders lower than the offensive player's. Have your arms and head in position to mirror the ball.

Nilson on slide steps

Keep a slight bend in your knees and never cross your feet. If you're sliding left, explode off your right foot and drive left in front of the offensive player's body; perform this the opposite way to slide right.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock