Nobody wants to be the one getting scored on… it’s not fun. So, use these four basketball defense drills to sharpen up your game.
The first two can be done alone, while you need someone to play with for the last two.
Solo drill #1: Close-out mimic
A close-out is when the defender runs out to defend the open player who has been passed the ball.
As a defender, you want to be able to get there fast, but still be in a position to change direction if the offensive player tries to drive past you.
You also want to be in a position to contest a potential shot, but without leaving your feet too early and falling for a shot fake.
Stand at the three point line with your back to the basket.
Then, do diagonally backwards defensive slides as marked on the diagram. (see the next drill if you’re not sure what defensive slides are)
Once you reach the hoop, run back to your starting point as if an open offensive player had just been passed the ball there.
Get to the spot as quickly as possible with a hand up, but stay light on your feet.
That way if it was a game, you’d be ready to change direction.
Solo drill #2: Defensive slides
Defensive slides are an in-game movement, taught to new players learning how to move on defense.
Stay in a low stance, with your arms slightly stretched out by your sides and move from side to side.
This is used in a game to move laterally and cut off your opponent.
Being able to slide and change direction quickly is sure to help you lock up your opponents, and that’s the whole point.
Do four defensive slides across the width of the court, as quickly as you can.
Limit this to a couple of sets each time you train, and watch your lateral quickness improve with time.
Two-player drill #1: Close-out
Here, start under the basket (as the defender) from the solo close-out drill, with the other player at the start point on the free throw line.
Feel free to adjust these distances if they aren’t appropriate for your shooting range, space, etc.
Pass to the player at the three point line.
Then, as soon as you release the ball close out the offensive player, while they try to score.
This will help you to practice for the same in-game situation.
If you’re too slow, the shooter hits an open shot. However, if you chase too recklessly, the offensive player will drive by you easily.
Two-player drill #2: One-on-one
Often, the best way to improve at basketball is just by playing.
So, here the drill is just to play 1-on-1 with another player.
This will force you to train all the necessary defensive movements, as you compete to win the game.
A significant part of defense is simply effort and not giving up on the play, even if it looks like they’ve got you.
1-on-1 is a great way to teach these traits.
To get the most out of this, play full court one-on-one.
This will give you the experience of being forced to defend well, even when tired. Also, by doing this you train your endurance.
However, if you don’t have access to a full court, that’s fine. With enough effort, a standard 1-on-1 will also test your stamina.