A Challenging Defensive Drill To Improve Communication and Rotation - 4 on 4 With Baseline Drivers

This is another great defensive drill that works on scrambling, communicating, helping on defense, and recovering. Players are forced to go all out in order to make a stop and be successful in this drill.

This is a drill that will make playing defense tougher in practice than it is in actual games. If you know you can stop 6 with 4, it makes you more confident in 5 on 5 game situations.

From How To Develop A Man To Man Defense, Jim Huber demonstrates the drill.

Drill Instructions

You have four offensive players being guarded by four defensive players.

You also have two baseline drivers with one in each corner. They can be managers, coaches, or players. They are stationary, unless they have the ball. Then they can drive.

For the purpose of this drill, we are not actively trying to guard the baseline drivers.

The defense should only help on the baseline driver when they attack the hoop. If the baseline driver stays stationary when catching the ball, the defense does not need to rotate to help.

Drill Progressions:

I like to start with the first four progressions when first teaching the drill.

After there is an understanding, I like to quickly move on to more challenging progressions. For some teams, this may only take 5 minutes. For other teams, it could take a couple of practices.

Progression 1 - Stationary Shell on Command

As you initially teach the drill, the four offensive players should remain stationary. Only the two baseline players should dribble drive at first.

Also, the offense does not shoot. The defense does not steal the ball.

The coach calls out when to pass.

I have these restrictions at first to help maintain control to enhance learning of the defense. As a coach, it also helps me process whether the players are rotating properly and getting to the right spots. This ensures that the defenders understand the defense.

In this progression, I don't like the offensive players to shoot. I do this because I want the defense to get a lot of repetitions. This eliminates the wasted time of resetting the drill every 5 seconds after a shot.

Progression 2 - Stationary Shell With Player's Choice

Next, everything will be the same as above. Four offensive players remain stationary. Baseline drivers can dribble drive. Offense can't score. Defense can't steal the ball.

However, the offense can pass whenever they want.

Progression 3 - Stationary Shell With Dribble Drive

This is the same as above, except all players can dribble drive.

I've also seen some coaches that allow the baseline drivers to shoot lay ups at any time throughout the drill. You can determine whether that's appropriate.

Progression 4 - Stationary Shell With Dribble Drive & Shot Restrictions

Now, you can allow the offense to shoot. Baseline drivers can only shoot lay ups.

However, I prefer to add a shooting restriction to ensure a lot of defensive repetitions. The offense can't shoot until you say so.

That way, you get a lot of repetitions without having to reset every 5 seconds, as mentioned before.

After 20 to 30 seconds, you can say "Shots". That's the cue to the offense that they can shoot open shots.

I will use this same tactic with the following progressions as well.

Progression 5 - Cuts and interchanges

As your players begin to understand the rotations, you can allow the offense to do basket cuts, backdoor cuts, and interchanges on the perimeter. This will make the drill much more challenging and game-like.

Progression 6 - Allow screens

Some coaches will allow screens in the previous progression, but I prefer to do that in a sixth progression.

Lay Ups Only or Close Shots Only

Note that for progressions 5 & 6, I like to say "lay ups" only at first. That means, if there is an open lay up at any point throughout the drill, you can take it.

However, they can't shoot an open jump shot until I say, "Shots" or give some other coaching cue. As before, I usually will do this after 20 to 30 seconds. As mentioned previously, baseline drivers do not shoot open jump shots.

Some coaches will also use a variation of this. You allow the offense to shoot any time they're within ten feet of the basket.

Attention Youth Coaches - Better Defense Drills For You

If you're a youth coach and you try to jump straight into this progression, you might experience some frustrations.

Here are a couple of team defense drills that I like to use prior to this drill progression. 3 on 3 is also a great teaching tool for defense.

Defensive Shell Drill Sucks

The Ultimate Team Defense Drill

Solutions and Resources:

Man To Man Defense Video - Drills, Strategies, and Step By Step Process

Breakthrough Basketball Camps

One Of The Toughest Defense Drills You Will Ever Do (Great Conditioning Too) - Man In The Hole

The Foster Drill - A Great Drill To Improve 1 on 1 Defense (Offense improves too!)

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


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Greg Ernst says:
12/8/2016 at 9:52:58 AM

Very similar to a 5 on 4 and 4 on 3 half court defensive rotation drill which is pretty well known.

But one question.

Why does no one rotate out / close out on the ball in the corner in the video?

Wouldn't you want either the post defender or the wing close out on the ball then have rotation fill in behind them?


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