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Close

Defensive Close Out Fundamentals -- 5 Keys to
Better Close Outs

- By

Great close outs are VITAL to your defense.

If you're constantly getting beat by the offense due to poor close outs, your team defense instantly becomes worse.

When the offense is at a constant advantage due to poor close outs, your team defense will suffer. The offense will get more easy looks and your defense will get more fouls which leads to key players spending less time on the floor and the offense getting more easy foul shots when they get in the bonus.

Here is another thing to think about...

On every single pass that the offense makes in a half court setting, there should be a defensive close out. Now how many times does that happen in a game? Against good offensive teams, you could have at least 5 close outs per possession. 50 possessions in a game and you have at least 250 close outs.

30 games in a year and there is at least 7,500 close outs!

Poor close outs wreck your team defense and lead to more points scored against you. And close outs occur hundreds of times per game!

That's why some of the great defensive coaches start most defensive drills with a close out. They understand how vital it is to a team's defense. It'd probably be wise for you to do the same.


Here is a sneak peak into our NEW product called Jim Huber's Man To Man Defense. In the video clip below, Coach Jim Huber does a great job of breaking down close outs.

Why should you listen to Jim Huber?

For those of you unfamiliar with Coach Jim Huber, he coaches some of the best high school players in the nation. He is a coach and director of operations for Mokan Elite who is a team in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL). Since Jim's team competes nationally and they often face teams with more physical talent, great defense has been a staple for Jim's teams to win tournaments and compete in the EYBL.

Jim has coached defense at almost all levels, ranging from 4th grade to college.



5 Keys to Better Close Outs

Here are 5 tips mentioned in the video above.

  1. Be in your defensive stance.

    If you are in an athletic stance with hips back and knees bent, this saves time because you are ready to sprint to the shooter.

    "Be like a sprinter."

  2. Sprint to the ball.

    Sprinting to the shooter as quickly as possible is VERY important.

    1 - If the offense is going to shoot, they will have a contested shot which dramatically lowers their shooting percentage.

    2 - A properly timed closeout will make it more difficult to drive past you. If you delayed your closeout and are still sprinting to the shooter who already has the ball, they can easily use your momentum against you and drive past you.

  3. Chop your steps.

    You want to chop your steps or use a quick stop to slow your momentum so you can defend the dribble drive.

  4. Hands Up

    By having your hands up, this leads to a contested shot, prevents direct post passes, and results in more deflections for your team.

  5. Mirror Offense and Force East-West

    "Feet to feet."

    "Belly button to belly button."

    The purpose of mirroring the offense is to force the offense east-west and away from the basket. You don't want any easy straight line driving lanes to the basket because this typically breaks down the defense and gives more efficient scoring opportunities to the offense.


We hoped that these close out tips helped you in some way. If you have some more helpful tips, please share below.

 
UPDATE 5/12/13: Jim Huber's new DVD set is now available here.


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




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Comments

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Anthony says:
5/7/2013 at 9:24:12 AM

Joe

My question to you is the following: when a defense player closes out, as they studder step -then puts their hands up to contest the shot or pass isn't the defense player off-balance according to newton's law(2). This would give the advantage to the offensive player with the ball because the defensive player is off-balance. What is you thought? Newton's second law (center point of gravity/balance)

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Joe Haefner says:
5/7/2013 at 10:00:57 AM

Anthony, you could be right. I'm not quite sure.

On the close out, is the player ever on balance until they're completely set?

I'm making an assumption here, so correct me if I'm wrong, but you're questioning putting both hands up versus just one hand up.

I think it depends on your coaching philosophy. I've heard both arguments and they both make sense to me. I've actually taught both ways too.

This is the way I look at it.

The studder step creates friction on the ground to slow your speed down. A few coaches will also teach quick stops.

To contest the shot or deter the initial post pass, both hands are only up for a brief second. Also this motion helps stop the forward momentum as well.

Once the pass and shot has been deterred, you'll notice that the defensive player immediately brings their hands down which would be a balanced position.

To me, the player quickly progresses from really out of balance (sprinting towards the player) to slightly out of balance (slowing down when studdering and throwing hands up) to being balanced stance (one hand up or whatever you teach).

Your close outs may also change based on the player you are guarding. For a knock-down shooter, you may fly at them and force them to dribble. For a dribble penetrator, you may close out 7 feet short of them.

For somebody who can do both, good luck! You may never want to leave their side, so close outs won't happen.

Another thing just from my observations, the best athletes are the athletes who can maintain balance in typically unbalanced situations.

On the basketball floor, I don't if you will ever be truly balanced, but I guess you can try to teach techniques that will help you get to center of gravity as quickly as possible.

What do you teach?

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Ken Sartini says:
5/7/2013 at 10:26:43 AM

Joe -

You make a lot of great points here, the key to any sport is maintaining good balace. Once you lose that, your opponent has the advantage. Think of a boxer and his stance, IF your feet were together, one punch and its over.

To me, the idea of closing out is to take away the offensive players best move.... if its shooting, make him put in on the floor, IF its driving, let him shoot it.... and like Joe said, if he can do both.... you better get some help.

I used to say, score first and pull the fire alarm. LOL

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Dave Bishop says:
5/7/2013 at 11:24:26 AM

I like Ken's thoughts there.

Closeouts are like so many other areas where we need to be able to do multiple things depending on need/opponent.

We try to take away 1st/2nd wants for offense. I like to primarily close out into a proper stance, so we wouldn't do 2 hands up.

My only thought about the video is that I would disagree with saying you shouldn't close out any specific way. If they have a strong shooter with only one strong hand, I would want my guy to close out to defend the shot and take away strong-hand drive (1st/2nd options).

But the footwork and focus on this area is huge for any good defense.

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Jeff Haefner says:
5/7/2013 at 11:36:29 AM

Good points!! So much of this depends on age and level of play. For young kids you'll want to teach them how to do it one way. College kids might have a handful of different ways to close out depending on the person they are guarding.

With that said, some college coaches primarily teach one way and don't spend time teaching a bunch of different close outs because they don't believe they get a big enough return on the necessary time invested to drill players in closing out all those different ways. You always have to decide what is worth spending your time on and what's not.

Lots of ways to go about things but I don't think you can go wrong following the fundamental elements taught by Jim in the video. It works for him and his teams compete at a national level... mostly because of their tough m2m defense.

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Rick says:
5/7/2013 at 7:31:16 PM

I agee with Jeff H.,you can''''t go wrong. I think the main point is for the athlete to be fundementaly sound so his response is more effective, being low, sprint, hand ups then down quickly, he's not going have time thinking about where his center of gravity is.

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Nele says:
5/8/2013 at 7:23:42 PM

Hi All.
Throwing hands up in the air (or back) is used to keep the body in balance as the player defending was sprinting to close out and therefore needs resistance to stop. This is also useful to prevent a quick pass inside. The key here is not to keep hands in the air for too long but just enough to stay in balance.
Afterward, player closing out will lower one hand down to judge the distance (cushion) depending on the speed of the offensive player and also to prevent / disrupt crossovers (if low) or passes to a flasher (if placed higher).
The other hand can stay above the ball to prevent a quick shot. If an offensive player is not in shooting motion, then the defensive player's hand comes down too.

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Don A Dewberry says:
6/28/2013 at 7:57:10 AM

I was always taught to learn what your opponents dominant shooting hand is and when closing out put the hand up that mirrors his shoot hand. It's always worked for me very well. It takes a good shooter outta rhythm and makes him a driver or passer

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gilbert says:
4/2/2014 at 4:02:11 AM

please i need to know what is the best closing out with 1 hand or 2 hands and where to closeout with 1 hand or 2 hands.thank you

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Ken Sartini says:
4/2/2014 at 8:11:51 AM

I think a lof of that has to do with the coaches philosophy. I taught one handed close out for years, but towards the end I changed to two hands.

The key is to take away the offensive players best move... challenge shooters WITHOUT fouling while being under control in case he wants to drive. JMO

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Omar Louis says:
11/12/2014 at 12:07:45 AM

Coach Huber said something about hopping which I remember my coach constantly saying.
"NO HOPS." Basically players hopping both defensively and offensively could be one of the most overdone bad habit that players make. How many times do we see a ball handler hopping with the basketball? In many instances he gets past his defender and then lets him off the hook by hopping which allows defenders to recover. Defensively if I close out and then leave my feet and hop in the air, I am basically dead in the air ready to be scored upon. Great video!!

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Chuck says:
8/3/2017 at 10:32:12 AM

My players know our opponents weak hand. I teach my guys to close out one handed to the offenses strong side. We do a one handed closeout with the hand up being the offensive players strong side because typically a two handed closeout will result in the defense more upright and out of position defensively. One handed also allows the defense to jump quicker to contest a shot. Closing out to the strong side with that hand up helps take away the shot and with the weak side hand down in a defensive position, the pass away is typically more effectively defensed. Short choppy steps, and under control, is a must do.

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