6 Footwork Progressions For Elite Defenders

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As we all know, the ability to play defense is what often separates the good players from the great players.... the winners.

Whether you're an offensive threat or not, giving 100% effort and dedication on the defensive end is a great way to earn more playing time and get noticed by college scouts.

In this video from our Elite Guard Camps, Jim Huber demonstrates a defensive footwork progression that he has used with Nike Elite teams that led the Nike EYBL in defensive points per game.



Here is the teaching progression for the defensive footwork taught in the video:

  • Defensive Stance - Teach the proper defensive stance.

  • Push step - Focus on exploding off the back foot.

  • Quick turn - Focus on quick movement of the hips and feet to put your body in position to explode in the other direction.

  • Quick turn then push step - Now you combine stance, quick turn, and push step.

  • Crossover step and recover - Next, you add how to recover when the offense gets by you or when you need to cover distance quickly.

  • Close outs - Then you teach your players how to close out.

Related Resources:

Breakthrough Basketball Camps

Jim Huber’s Man To Man Defense

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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max goree says:
3/1/2022 at 8:30:42 PM

Awesome video on defensive footwork. How many sets or reps should players do? Max


max goree says:
3/1/2022 at 8:30:40 PM

Awesome video on defensive footwork. How many sets or reps should players do? Max


Ray Card says:
8/28/2021 at 12:22:17 PM

I prefer the one hand up approach as you can maintain better balance since you naturally finish in a stride stop with 1 foot and 1 hand closer to the ball handler. This allows you to move backwards easier. But both methods work as well as they are taught and that is what makes for good coaching and teaching. Make sure as a coach that you learn from your players and if they are able to do a great job with a variation let them do it. Don't coach someone out of being a good defender because of your ego.


Chris says:
5/1/2015 at 7:52:11 PM

Good stuff.
I might change one thing on the Close-Out drill, and that would be to not teach throwing both hands into the air. For most people, this would cause them to stand up putting them out of good defensive position and take away their use of their arms for defensive reaction turns of their upper body. Bio-mechanically, slowing down is achieved by lowering the center of gravity, not necessarily throwing your weight backwards.
Try one hand up and one hand down (taking away low passes on one side). Emphasis during teaching to keep their low hand below their knee will maintain good defensive stance. As most kids are not EVER going to block a shot on a player who they have to run at to close-out, I REALLY discourage going for the block. Better to be in good block-out position, so the shooter can't follow his own miss.

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
5/2/2015 at 9:27:08 AM

Thank you for your points, Chris.

Personally, when I have taught close outs, I have used both methods with success. It's a to-may-to / to-mah-to issue to me. But you also have to evaluate your defensive goals and decide what works best for you.

From conversations with Coach Huber, he wants to force contested, outside shots and keep everything out of the lane. That's why he likes the two hand up approach on the close out to prevent direct air passes into the lane. Otherwise, the one-hand approach would be sufficient with contesting shots.

Also, you don't keep your two hands up. You do lower them to a different position as you transition to on-the-ball defense.


garry says:
5/1/2015 at 1:37:13 PM

awesome video. i''''m in my 4th year of coaching and looking for some drills exactly like these to teach and emphasize proper defensive movements. I''''ll begin teaching this at tonight''''s practice.
On a side bar when are you guys going to do some camps in the DMV area? Lots of basketball talent in this area that would benefit greatly from what you guys teach. I see one camp in Sterling, but that''''s an hour drive from Washington D.C. Spread the knowlege.


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