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Basketball Defense - Press Inbounds Deny Drills

From Tyler Whitcomb - Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
Coach Tyler Whitcomb is the boy's head basketball coach at West Michigan Aviation Academy and was a former pro basketball GM and scout. In his young career, he already has over 100 high school coaching victories.

Coach Tyler Whitcomb
Coach Tyler Whitcomb

Coach Whitcomb's team stats show that when his team is plus-8 in offensive rebounds, and minus-8 in turnovers, they win over 90% of the time. So he has created a defensive system that forces turnovers, by using an aggressive full-court deny press, denying the inbounds pass. His system does this by having the defender who is guarding the inbounder drop off the inbounder and play "centerfield" or "linebacker", trying to intercept or trap the ball (diagram 1). He/she reads the eyes of the inbounder and anticipates the pass.

Diagram 1 shows the defense against the familiar 2-2-1 press offense.

Press Defense - setup

The other four defenders are in complete deny mode, denying the inbounds pass by staying between their man and the ball. They don't worry about the over-the-top lob pass as the centerfielder will anticipate this and intercept, or at least stop the ball. Notice that the centerfielder slides over a little toward the same side of the court as the inbounder, as it is easier and more likely that the lob pass would go to that same side of the court.

Coach Whitcomb also denies the inbounds pass in baseline and sideline out-of-bounds situations.

Below are several drills that Whitcomb uses to get his team tough at denying and harassing the inbounds pass, creating an aggressive mentality.

3-Up Inbounds Deny Drill

Diagram 2 shows three offensive players and an inbounder. The inbounder's defender drops back to play centerfield, while the other three defenders are in full deny. Notice how X4 will read the inbounder and help on any over-the-top lob pass.

Diagram 3 shows that defenders switch screens, still denying the pass.

The goal is to deny for longer than the usual 5-second call (over-training concept) - deny for eight seconds. You can make this competitive by scoring points for forced turnovers, and offense and defense switch each possession... play to five.

3-up deny drill switch screens and deny

3-on-3 Deny Drill


Diagram 4 shows the 3-on-3 drill. The inbounder's defender drops back to play centerfield, while the other two defenders are in full deny and switch screens. X4 reads the inbounder and helps on any over-the-top lob pass by either intercepting the pass (diagram 5), or stopping and trapping the ball if the pass is completed (diagram 6).

Again, you can make this competitive using a scoring system and playing to five. If you have twelve players and an assistant, you can run this drill on both ends of the court with six on each end.

3-on-3 deny drill deny lob pass stop ball and trap

Lay-up - Transition to Deny Defense Drill

For this defense to be effective, players must be conditioned to transition immediately from a scored basket (no celebrating) to finding their man and denying, otherwise the opponent will get the ball inbounds quickly before you are matched up, and the whole plan is defeated.

Use 3-player groups in this drill. Starting along the sideline (diagram 7), O1 dribbles in uncontested and scores a lay-up. O2 follows right behind O1, grabs the ball out of the net and quickly steps out-of-bounds and tries to pass inbounds quickly to O3 who has also trailed in. O1, after scoring, must immediately find O3 and deny the pass (diagram 8). In this drill, players must stay on that half of the court, so that O1 has a reasonable chance to deny, deflect or intercept the pass, or get the 5-second call.

Group 1 leaves the court and the second threesome go (O4, O5 and O6 in diagram 9). You can move to the opposite sideline after a few reps.

sideline layup drill deny lob pass stop ball and trap

3-on-3 Deny Sideline Inbounds Drill

Why give the offense a free pass on the sideline inbounds? Pressure the inbounds pass! This 3-on-3 drill has X3, the player defending the inbounder, drop inside along the ballside lane line, as the centerfielder. The other defenders X1 and X2 face-guard, in full deny mode (diagram 10).

X3 prevents the lob pass to either O1 (diagram 11) or O2 (diagram 12), in the event that either backcut to the hoop.

sideline deny drill deny lob to O1 deny lob to O2

Do these drills daily to become that tenacious defense that opponents hate to play against! Back-court turnovers often quickly turn into easy lay-ups. If you struggle to score in the half-court, but possess some team quickness, this defense can help you get some easy baskets.

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