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Basketball Drills - Defense 1-on-1 Drills

By Dr. James Gels, From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
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1-on-1 Drill

Use both ends of the court. Have a line of defenders under under each basket, and a line of offensive players at the free throw lines.

The first player in the defensive line (on each end) passes the ball to the offensive player at the free throw line, and closes-out aggressively. The offensive player tries to score, by shooting or driving to the hoop.

The defender should play aggressively and box-out after any shot. Once the offense scores or the defense stops him/her, it's done, and they pass to next defensive player in line on the baseline. The rotation is that the offensive players go to the defense line and vice-versa.

The defensive players should work on close-outs, proper stance and footwork (see Basic Defense), and box-out. The defender close-outs initially with the strong foot forward and that hand up toward offensive player.

Over-guard the offensive player's strong side. The other hand should be low, out to the side, palm up. Proper footwork means sliding with the offensive player (don't cross your feet), and staying between the player and the basket. Watch the belly-button, contest all shots with a hand up at the shooter.

You can make a game of it and keep score. Losers run.

Also see this 1-on-1 Offense/Defense Drill.

From Jim Boone: Building Blocks of the Pack Line Defense

Full-Court "Cut and Pressure" Drill

This is a good full-court conditioning drill, while working on defensive footwork. See the diagram.

1-on-1 defensive drill

Start with a line at one end of the floor. The first player in line becomes the defender. The next person in line attempts to dribble the entire length of the floor in a straight line, without having to cross-over or change direction. The defender, by using correct footwork, must try to "turn" the defender as many times as he can - i.e. force him to change direction or cross-over dribble.

Once they reach the opposite end, the pair moves over to the opposite side of the floor and the original defender now becomes the dribbler and vice-versa for the trip back up the floor. Meanwhile, the next twosome starts up the opposite side of the floor. Players must stay on their half of the floor (to avoid collisions).

"Speed-Dribble at and Run With" Drill - defending in the open court

This is a good drill for teams that like to press. Oftentimes, when the ball is speed-dribbled at the defender, the defender simply reaches-in and swipes at the ball as it goes by - and then he/she stands there and watches (instead of sprinting to the hoop).

First, it is very difficult to actually stop a good point guard speed dribbling at you in the open court. This drill teaches our players to "run with" the ball, rather than reaching-in and watching the offensive player go to the hoop. Running with the ball gives us more defensive presence going to the hoop, and gives us another rebounder on a missed shot.

dribble at and run with drill dribble at and run with drill

Additionally, look at diagram B (which is a common game situation). We have a defender (X5) back (diagram B), as O1 speed-dribbles in, X5 often comes over to defend O1, leaving O5 for the pass. But if X1 runs with O1, even though he/she might not be able to actually stop O1, X1 can switch and get to O5 and break-up that pass, or defend O5's shot.

Run the drill as in diagram A: 1-on-1, offense goes to defense, and defense goes to the offense line.

Make sure your defender is in a good defensive position, and not standing flat-footed and upright. Knees should be bent, and weight on the balls of the feet. He/she should sprint all the way to the hoop, even if beaten in the open court.

How Geno Auriemma Wants to Play 1-on-1 Defense! From Geno Auriemma's Complete Defensive System