Lockdown Any Baller

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What separates great from good basketball players? Lockdown defense. Cases in point: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. These electrifying athletes were amazing offensive players early in their careers, but they weren't considered all-time legends of the game until they displayed their dominance on the defensive end of the floor.

According to Shawn Dassie, Elite Performance Professional and off-season strength and conditioning coach to NBA All-Star Danny Granger, it's important to incorporate specific defensive drills that help strengthen the muscles in your defensive stance. "The only way to strengthen your body for defense is to simulate what you do on the court and add resistance," he says.

One of Dassie's favorite drills is the Step Squat, because it does just that. "I want them to get on one leg, and be able to stabilize on one leg as they step over the [hurdle], and get themselves in a nice deep position."

If you're looking to become an all-around baller, try Dassie's drill once a week throughout the off-season.

Step Squat
• Set up six 6'' hurdles two feet apart
• Begin in athletic stance with hurdles to right
• Step laterally over first hurdle with right leg
• Squat down and touch hands to ground
• Step laterally over first hurdle with left leg
• Step laterally over second hurdle with right leg
• Squat down and touch hands to ground
• Step laterally over second hurdle with left leg
• Continue sequence over all six hurdles

Reps: 3-4 down and back
Adaptation: After you become comfortable with the drill, wear a weighted vest and attach a bungee cord to your ankles to create more resistance.
Coaching Points: Keep head and chest up throughout exercise // Sit back into a good squat position when straddling each hurdle // Make sure to touch hands to the floor at the bottom of squat

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