There are a lot of things that are out of your hands as a coach, like talent, or size, but two things you can control are conditioning and technique on the defensive end.
Closing out and fighting through screens are important parts of a player’s defensive make-up and something you need to take the time to emphasize in practice.
And while your players may not love it, being in better shape than your opponent will not only enable you to play a higher tempo offensively, be more aggressive defensively, and even shorten your rotation if you need to hide a lack of depth.
Six Man Slides
The Six Man Slides drill is great for not only keeping your players fit, but also keying in on their ability to close out properly and fight over a hard screen without fouling.
If you’ve got more than 12 players or a couple of assistant coaches, you can run this drill on both ends of the court at the same time and get your whole team really working. Have six players get in a line where the free throw lane meets the baseline.
Have one coach stand just above the elbow with a basketball in his hands, and another straddling the middle of the free throw line with a blocking pad (if possible).
On your go, have the players sprint out to the ball and close out, fight over the screen to the other elbow, and then back pedal their way down to the baseline.
Set a time limit, and count the number of players they can get around the horn in that time – this can be a great inter-team competition that will really get your kids to push themselves.
• Teach your players to ‘chop’ or ‘machine gun’ their feet as they close out – slowing down by shortening your strides to quick small steps on your toes, enabling them to quickly change directions and speed
• Have players practice fighting over the screen by sliding up with their lead foot
If your looking for more drills to bolster your team’s efforts on D’, check out this great full court defense drill!