Improving Defensive Quickness &
Debunking The "Don't Cross Your Feet" Myth
The drill is a resisted-band defensive shuffle (slide) which improves lateral quickness and explosiveness.
Key Points & Coaching Cues:
- Stay Low - Knees Bent & Hips Back.
- 2 Quick Steps - If you need to cover more ground, the better choice is more likely the crossover step which is explained below.
- Push Off - Teach the players to push off the back foot. Don't step and slide. This will lead to a slower movement.
- Feet straight ahead - This provides a better angle to push with power and change direction. If your feet are out, it's hard to push with force and change directions.
- Straight Line - Ankle to Knee To Hips. You do not want the knees to cave in. This increases potential for injury.
- Head on a level plane - No wasted movement. If the player bounces up and down, it will slow them down and use more energy.
- Chest Up & Head Up
You can visit the Perform Better website for Resistance Bands in the video above.
Crossover Step - Debunking the "Don't Cross Your Feet" MythYou'll notice in the video that Charles says he does not teach his players to shuffle more than "2 Quick Steps". If the defensive player needs to cover more ground than two quick shuffle steps, the first step should be a crossover step. Some people also call it the "Turn & Run".
A crossover step is used when you want to quickly cover longer distances, approximately 4 yards or more. If you are doing a crossover to the left, you lift your right leg and cross it in front of your body. Your right foot will land in front of your left foot. (To see this, view the videos below.)
This is the way that the body naturally wants to move and you'll notice that players will do this movement without instructing them.
So many coaches still teach their players "Do NOT cross your feet" on defense. I'm not going to lie. I used to do this as well. A few years ago, I changed my mind. It began when I noticed that Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls always crossed his feet on defense and this was back when Kirk made the NBA All-Defense Team. As soon as I noticed that, I noticed that all good defensive players were doing it. I guess if you're not looking for it, you don't notice it. From that day forward, I began heavily researching movement and athletic development.
If you watch any major college or NBA game that provides pressure above the 3-point line, you'll notice that the defensive players are constantly crossing their feet to stay in front of their man. Watch Texas, North Carolina, Duke, and Kansas. They all do it.
If that doesn't convince you, set up two cones about 10 yards apart and time the crossover and the defensive shuffle.
I'm not saying that the defensive shuffle is useless. If you need to cover a shorter distance like movements under 4 yards, the defensive shuffle works great because you can change directions quicker. It also tends to be easier to square your body and take a charge. You will often use the defensive shuffle playing defense within the 3-point line.
Watch Kobe Bryant use the crossover step when guarding Jason Terry. You only need to watch the first 40 seconds.
Here is another great example of the crossover step being used to harass the defender (#10 - Sandra Sinclair) up and down the court. I got this video from Brian McCormick's blog.
What do you think about the crossover step and the defensive shuffle? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...
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