There are two aspects of defense that you need to perfect if you want to dominate on that end of the floor – individual defense, and team defense.
If your players can’t do a good job of keeping their men in front of them, it doesn’t matter how good your help rotations are – the offense is going to get easy shots.
And even if your players play great one on one defense, if they are out on an island with no help from the weak side, all it takes is one little mistake and the offense has an easy bucket.
That’s why you have to remember to drill both of these crucial facets to an effective defense every day in
practice, until your players obey the principles almost subconsciously
Six Man Slides
This is an awesome drill, that works on several different techniques you will employ almost every possession.
Have six players line up underneath the hoop along the lane line, and one coach at the elbow of that same line, preferably with a ball in their hands.
You’ll also have one more coach straddle the free throw line, as if they were setting a pick for the first coach (if you have access to a blocking pad you can give him one of those too).
The first player will sprint off the baseline, before chopping their feet down in a controlled closeout on the ball. Then, they will fight over the screen, slide in defensive stance to the other elbow, and then backpedal down to the baseline.
As soon as the first player hits the elbow and begins to back pedal, the next player in line should begin to sprint out.
You’re going to want to use a timer for this drill, and go for however long you feel is appropriate,
depending on your team’s conditioning level.
Having good help rotations is absolutely vital to a strong team defense. And this shell drill, while only using four players, is a great way of showing players exactly where they need to be, depending on if the ball is one, two, or three passes away.
Have four players line up along the three-point line, two up top, and two on the wing, with a coach at the top of the key. You’ll have your four defender line up along the baseline, along with a coach underneath the hoop.
The coach underneath the hoop will have a basketball, and when he passes it up to the top of the key, the defenders will all sprint and close out their men. After that, the coach at the top of the key will pass the ball to one of the two players up top, and all the defenders will need to slide accordingly.
The easiest way to explain proper positioning to your players, is that they should be about halfway up
the invisible line between their man and the ball.
Now if they stay right on that line, their liable to be exposed on a backdoor cut, so usually I suggest taking a step or two backwards so that they can see both the ball and their man in their peripheral version.
Once the players have gotten the hang of the rotations you can make the drill a little bit tougher on them, and give the offense 2-3 dribbles to try and score against the ‘d’.
Your players will learn fast that with that much open space on the court, helping hard and early is the only way they will be able to keep the offense out of the paint.