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The Defensive Shell Drill Sucks?By - Joe Haefner
"The defensive shell drill sucks."
"We always use the shell drill to work on defense."
These are two contrasting statements that I have heard from coaches on multiple occasions.
People from the shell drill sucks group criticize the shell drill because it is too controlled. It is not game-like enough. The argument is that you can become great at the shell drill, but still have a poor defense when the games are played.
On the opposite end, the coaches who spend a lot of time on it swear by it. Some will even claim it is the reason that their defense is great.
Well, here's what I think...
Both opinions are right!
If you exclusively use a CONTROLLED shell drill for teaching your defense, you probably won't become a great defensive team.
However, the shell drill can also be a vital tool from your coaching toolbox to develop a great defensive team. That means you don't rely on the shell drill exclusively. Just like anything else in coaching, you use every tool with a specific purpose to create a greater whole.
Here is why I believe every coach should use the shell drill...
- Great for teaching and getting players on board.
The shell drill is great for teaching and allows you to demonstrate to the players exactly what your team defense should look like and to build confidence. It allows you to communicate the players how you want things to be done and why you want things to be done a certain way.
Are you closing out properly? Are you sprinting to areas? Are you in the right position? Are you guarding the ball properly? Are you properly rotating on help?
It also gets your players on board so they understand the big picture.
Great progression for developing your defense.
Most great coaches like to start in a closed, controlled environment to teach and build confidence before introducing an open, reactive environment. This would be a prime example of progressing from a shell drill to live scrimmaging.
When you are working on developing a player's shooting form, you're not going to teach them the form, then instantly progress them to a 5 on 5 setting and say, "Okay. Work on your shooting form." You're going to build the proper habits in a controlled environment. You're going to practice repetition after repetition to develop the skills and habits needed to be a good shooter.
Even though teaching defense is not the exact same as teaching shooting, you should still use similar philosophy when teaching your defense. The shell drill does that by building the proper habits and engraining proper defensive positioning through repetition.
- Used to improve weaknesses.
Sometimes, during the middle of the season, you may find a few weak areas in your defense. The shell drill is a tool that you can use to go back to those areas, emphasize them, and clean it up to improve your defense.
- Used to be more efficient with your time.
As a coach, you are always trying to be more efficient with your time. What's a better way to be more efficient with your practice time than getting 8 to 10 players on the court at the same time working on defensive and offensive fundamentals? This is especially useful if you don't have a bunch of quality assistants to run breakdown drills.
Your players also get to work on multiple aspects of defense all at once: on-ball defense, help positioning, close outs, defending cutters, defending screens, defending post play, rotations, etc.
Coach Jim Huber demonstrates a progression of the shell drill below. This followed a teaching section in which he taught positioning.
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.
This is a preview from our Man to Man Defense 4-DVD Set that we will be introducing shortly. We are really excited to get this out as we've spent nearly 10 months on this project and it's unlike any man to man defense video that we've ever seen.
More details coming soon!
What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...