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

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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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Damien says:
11/18/2021 at 1:58:39 AM

I’m of the mindset to close out with one hand vs two. Two doesn’t make sense as you leave the defender susceptible to an even higher percentage shot in the drive and dunk, foul, or drive and kick to a more open three. You close out with one and use the other hand for counterbalance in the stop, then using it to guide the offensive player to either their weak hand or into the defense where you can get additional help defense.


Sads says:
5/5/2020 at 2:46:48 PM

Some coaches who influence away from the middle (like Texas Tech does) will teach 1 hand closeouts but it's always the "inside" hand to make the middle less inviting.


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.


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!!


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


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


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


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.


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.


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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