On the basketball court, an impenetrable defense can be a team’s strongest asset. When you’re down to the final possession, a stop on the defensive end can mean the difference between hoisting a championship trophy and bowing your head in defeat.
Great defenders understand that a mix of technique, conditioning and instinct are required. They also know that the determination to get a stop takes the ability to play defense to the next level. The best defenders take pride on the defensive end of the floor and make multiple efforts in each and every possession.
When training to become a better defender, choose drills that enhance your anaerobic capacity while forcing you to change directions, improve your reaction time and work in multiple planes of movement. The following drills test your ability to accelerate and decelerate, produce power laterally and make quick decisions. Check out the video player above for demonstrations.
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Around the World Close-Out
- Set-up: you need a stopwatch or timer and five tennis balls.
- Arrange the tennis balls as follows: two in the corners, two on the wings, and one at the top of the key.
- Place a basket under the rim to serve as the tennis ball drop-off point.
- Begin in a defensive stance under the rim. When the clock starts, sprint (in any order you choose) and close out on the tennis balls, grab them and return them to the basket under the rim. Return to the drop-off basket after each close-out.
- Complete all five close-outs.
- Repeat 2-3 times. Attempt to beat your previous time.
Close Out and Recover X
- Start on the baseline, just outside the lane.
- Sprint straight ahead to the elbow and close out.
- When you reach the elbow, open up and slide diagonally across the lane to the opposite baseline.
- When you reach the baseline, sprint straight ahead and close out on the elbow.
- Follow this with a diagonal defensive slide to your initial starting position.
- Continue in this fashion for 35 seconds.
- Complete 2-3 sets
Raise the challenge by making this drill reactive. Have a partner point to an elbow to dictate where you should close out, then slide laterally to the opposite baseline. From there, receive directions from your partner until the allotted time has expired or you reach a predetermined number of close-outs.
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