When the offseason is over, and training camp starts up, I like to focus in on a certain aspect of the game, whichever I believe is going to be the most important for our team that year. This year, our team is a little bit small, but we have some good athletes, so I’ve decided that we’re going to take advantage of our athleticism and use an attacking defense to minimize the damage of not having as many true big men as I’d like.

And one of the best ways to really put the pressure on the defense has nothing to do with the on ball defender, it’s all about off ball denial. If you can deny a team’s entry into their offense, they’ll end up turning it over, or they’ll be forced into sloppy 1 on 1 play – either way is great for your defense. And while a certain amount of athleticism is required, I believe that technique and stamina have a much larger bearing on the success of your wing denial.

Let’s face it, denying a play out past the three point line is exhausting, and can be tough to do at 30 seconds at a time – So I have my players do it for longer.

Deny and Deflect Drill

This is a very simple drill that will really get your players blood flowing. You need two teams of three players, and a half court. Now the goal here is for the offensive team to make 15 passes. The goal for the defensive team is to get either a steal or deflection on the ball – if they can get a hand on the rock, they switch onto offense.

To start, don’t allow the offense to set screens, have them focus on just making cuts off of the ball. Once you’ve done the drill a couple times, you can start having your offensive players come off of screens, forcing the defense to react and communicate, emulating a real game situation.

If that’s too easy, bump it up to 20 passes, or even up to 30. It’s also a good idea to keep a sub for each team, so that they can get a little bit of rest – chasing your man around the court off the ball can be absolutely exhausting.

If your looking for more great defensive drills, whether for an aggressive or more conservative defense, you’ll want to make sure your help defense principles are solid.