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Basketball Drill - Defense Z-Drill

By James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook, @

This drill works on proper defensive footwork, slides and sprints. I am frequently shouting "move your feet, don't reach in!" at my players when they are on defense, and this drill emphasizes that.

See the diagram. Place cones or balls at the specified places on the court (top of the key, on each end;and each mid-court sideline). Form a single line at the corner of the left baseline. The first player in line should turn around and face the baseline.

The Drill:
First Option: Defensive sliding the whole way.

The first player in line starts the drill by sliding to the first cone at the top of the arc, facing the baseline, using proper stance and sliding technique (see Basic Defense). Upon reaching the cone, he/she pivots off the lead foot and slides to the next cone at half-court sideline.

Then the player continues pivoting and sliding to the next cone at the top of the far end arc, and then to the baseline corner. After reaching the corner, he/she sprints along the baseline to the other corner, and zig-zags back up the court.

The second player in line starts after the preceding person reaches the first cone. Have all players do this, watching and stopping to demonstrate correct stance, footwork, and slides. Careful not to over do this drill at first, as players can become very tired doing this drill.

Second Option: alternate defensive slides and sprints.
Do the drill the same way, with the player sliding to the first cone. After reaching the first cone, have the player pivot and sprint (as though he/she were beaten) to the half court sideline cone, and seal the sideline off. Then resume sliding to the next cone, and then sprint again. Alternate slide and sprint every other cone.

Defensive Z-drill

Third Option: go man-to-man defense against an offensive player.
The drill is the same except now you add a ball-handler. The offensive player dribbles to each cone while the defender slides and stays in front of him/her. You can have the offensive players start out at a slower speed at first, and eventually work up to full speed, to see if the defender can stay with him/her.

If the defender gets beat, he/she must turn and sprint after the offensive player, and get back into proper sliding position. After reaching the far baseline, rotate the offensive players to defense, and vice-versa, and return up the court.

From Coach Vivian Stringer:

Helpful DVDs:

Mike Anderson: '40 Minutes of Hell' (Vol. 2)

Mike Anderson: '40 Minutes of Hell' (Vol. 2)
with Mike Anderson, University of Missouri Head Coach.
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Tom Izzo: Dominating Rebounding & Man-to-Man Defensive Drills

Tom Izzo: Dominating Rebounding & Man-to-Man Defensive Drills
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Jay Wright: Defensive Progression Drills & Techniques

Jay Wright: Defensive Progression Drills & Techniques
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Aggressive, no-nonsense defense is a trademark of Jay Wright's teams. Because of the great talent Villanova faces every game, Wright focuses on drills that will help contain quick, skilled ball handlers. This excellent teaching tool progresses from individual defensive stance, to one-on-one, two-on-two, and three-on-three in the half- and full-court. Wright stresses pressure on the ball, stance and vision away from the ball. The 2-on-2 "Whack Out" drill... (more info)

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