1 on 1 Full Court Defense Drill
Not only is this a great drill for improving your ball handling and on-ball defense, it also...
- Improves athleticism. When your players are constantly shuffling, sprinting, stopping, and accelerating for the length of the entire court, you will see steady improvements in their court speed, quickness, and body control. For this reason alone, I believe all coaches should use this drill.
- Conditions your players. This drill is a great conditioner, especially if you have them play defense 2 or 3 times consecutively. Our court was big enough where we could have 4 lines of 4 to 5 players. We would have one player guard 3 consecutive times against 3 different players. We would have each player go through the drill twice. This usually took about 10 minutes.
Now, a real kicker is to make them handle the ball against a fresh defensive player after they have played defense 3 consecutive possessions.
- Defense will feel easy during the games. Even if you pressure the entire game, rarely do players have play 1v1 defense for 84 feet (or 94 feet for college) and on top of that, they never have to do it for 3 consecutive possessions. Now, if you play half court or quarter court defense, defense will feel extremely easy during the games compared to your practices.
- Improves team defense. If your players can really
dig down and stop their opponent from getting to the basket, this
makes your team's defense that much better because they are never
playing at a disadvantage. In my first few years coaching, I put too much of an emphasis on help defense and not enough on 1v1 defense. What I found is that we were great at helping, but our 1v1 defense was terrible and we were constantly at a disadvantage.
- Gets the competitive juices flowing. This is a great drill to put at the beginning of practice to raise the intensity level. When you put one player against another, this usually gets them working hard from the start.
Here are a few things to emphasize and watch for:
- All Feet. Don't Reach.
When practicing this drill, players tend to reach so I constantly reinforce "All Feet" to make sure they are not reaching. Not only does reaching increase the number of fouls committed, but I also noticed that when players reach, they lose their balance for an instant and that's all it takes for a good offensive player to blow by them.
- Chest Up.
I found some players lean forward too much and this causes them to lose balance. When I see this, I remind them to keep their torso up. Every single body is different, but usually when the neck/chin is above the toes, this is a good position.
- Chest Forward.
This would be the opposite problem of the tip above. The player is leaning too far back and is putting too much weight on his heels which makes it difficult to stay balanced and explode in either direction.
- Front Of Feet.
It's important that the players keep the majority of the weight on the front of their feet to stay balanced and ready to move in any direction.
- Don't Lean.
When players lean too much to one side, they will lose balance. In 1v0 drills, I reinforce that when players stop, they reposition their shoulders in the new direction they are heading. This helps prevent the upper body from swaying and the player from losing balance.
There are times when a defensive player will get beat over and over again and all the coach yells is "Shuffle faster. Shuffle faster. Shuffle faster." Well, the coach can yell until he's blue in the face and the defensive player can shuffle until he's blue in the face, but this usually isn't going to make the defensive player any faster. It's usually not lack of effort. It's the improper choice of movement. They just need to run!
Sometimes, a player may be lightning-quick and the defensive player will struggle to keep up using just the defensive shuffle. So the player has to run with their upper-body facing the offensive player to stay in front. A lot of athletic development coaches call this the crossover step. Players will also have to turn and run to get in front of the offensive player if they have gotten beat.
What are your thoughts on this? Please add your comments below.