The Defensive Challenge Drill

Drill Purpose:

This drill is great because it provides a positive, fun twist to scrimmaging that encourages and rewards defense. It also gets your players in the mentality of, "I want to play defense."


  1. Perform this drill with 3-on-3, 4-on-4, or 5-on-5 in the half-court or full court.

  2. Split your players into two teams.

  3. Only the defense can score points, either by forcing a turnover or securing a rebound.

  4. If the defense gets a defensive stop, the team stays on defense.

  5. If the offense gets a basket or the defense fouls a shooter, the offense and defense switch.

  6. Play to 5 points or whatever you deem necessary.

Teaching Tip

If the defense is having a reoccurring problem, fix it immediately so they know how to react the next time.


  • If the defense fouls two or three times in a row, the offense and defense switch.
  • Play without any boundary lines. This gives the offense more freedom and makes the defense work harder.
  • Force the defense to get 2 or 3 stops in a row before a point is awarded.
  • If you have too many players, divide the group into 3 or 4 teams. If the defense does NOT get a stop, they rotate out. The offense rotates to defense and a new team comes in on offense.

You can also find more defensive drills & strategies in our Man to Man Defense System

You can find more fun drills in our 60 Fun Drills eBook.

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

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ronny okapi belgium says:
9/25/2008 at 3:19:20 AM

great drill - exellent help for my team


Al Lively says:
9/25/2008 at 5:58:35 AM

Drill that are instructive and competive are the best. Thanks


tony says:
9/25/2008 at 8:19:12 AM

I use this drill and add 2 twists:

2 time outs per team to communicate with each other when on defense only,

When on offense, "run silent", when on defense, "talk it up". When teaching m2m I find that players should talk lots to help with positioning. When on offense, i encourage silent basketball. It encourages visual cues instead of verbal "gimme the ball".


Michele says:
9/25/2008 at 9:18:25 AM

This is a great website! I have loads of playing experience, but will soon be a first time head coach. Your site is a tremendous resource for me. Thank you!


Rui says:
9/27/2008 at 5:07:34 AM

I've used this drill some times in my teams, because it's a very good way to pratice defense with a motivating drill. But here i?ve found some variations to play this drill in better ways. Thank you


greg says:
12/17/2008 at 5:34:35 PM

the drills you give are awesome and very helpful to the first time coach!GREAT JOB!!


Coach Speedy says:
1/12/2009 at 6:27:39 PM

Great drill


Jonas Lend says:
3/11/2009 at 11:49:51 AM

Nice drill. Good for offense too - have to take the "right" shots, because defense gets point for rebound.

We play this - small games to seven - loosers make a little sprint or few push-ups (not very demanding, but makes every game count - which presses offense to make "right decisions")


Eddie says:
9/28/2009 at 3:05:07 AM

It's a great help, my youth team likes it and they are eager for more. I hope you can provide me animated or video drills.

Thanks a lot.



FaToo says:
10/19/2009 at 3:51:10 PM

We do this drill and call it defense wins and I love what Jonas Lend said. Its good for defense and also teaches the offense to get good shots and also crash the offensive boards.


Trichee says:
1/7/2010 at 3:52:40 PM

your drills and plays have been awesome, for this is my first year at coaching and I never played in school. Thanks for the tips.


Jason says:
1/27/2010 at 11:42:04 PM

Doing this drill tomorrow and I'm really excited about it!

*A rule I added: Charges are 2 points!*


Steve says:
2/25/2010 at 5:25:47 PM

I did this drill at my practice (8th grade boys travel), and they loved it. It enables you to break down the importance of defense and getting a body on your opponent. The competitive nature of the drill steps up the intensity level, which is always helpful.


Mark says:
2/27/2010 at 12:08:01 PM

Awesome drills and plays I have tried many and the kids love them. I can't wait to try these new ones. Thanks


Ahmad Sulong says:
5/24/2010 at 11:22:55 PM

thanks,players like this drill so much. thanks again.


Ahmad Sulong says:
5/24/2010 at 11:22:57 PM

thanks,players like this drill so much. thanks again.


Anthony says:
9/24/2010 at 1:14:06 PM

Great site, great drills.

Question: What am I not getting about this one? Let's say it's run 5 on 5 full court -

Team B makes a stop, gets the ball and tries to score right? But once they get the stop aren't they offense? Then Team A inbounds the ball, and what are they supposed to do with it? They can't score, or at least it won't count, so what - they score just to switch position? How do you keep track if it's chaotic on who was offense and who was defense?

I'm sure I'm missing something obvious, and would appreciate anyone clearing this up, or talking more about how it worked for you. Thanks!


Anthony says:
9/24/2010 at 1:16:41 PM

Nevermind - got it! They get a point when they get a stop. It was clear - my bad.


Coach S. says:
1/21/2011 at 2:02:11 AM

I have used this drill for 3 seasons now and it is one of my favorite.

It teaches hustle, and helps them work on individual offensive and defensive skills.

If I can offer some variations/tips from my experience:

-Run this 3-on-3, assuming you have 12 players that makes 4 teams. 3-on-3 makes everyone get involved and have more touches - there is no hiding the weaker players like you can do in 5-on-5.

-If defense gets a stop, they earn a point they stay on defense, and a new offensive team gets in. If the offense scores, they switch to defense (they "earn the right" to score points). First team to 5 wins and gets gatorades after practice, the rest run.

-Rule: all players must touch the ball before shooting.
-OR: have the coach pass the ball in from the baseline or sideline to start the play (helps defense practice denying pass and protecting basket, helps offense learn to cut to get open).

-If there is a foul, offensive player gets a free throw. Made free throw = stay on the court. Missed free throw = get off!

Finally, this is a great drill for having players practice a skill just learned in progression. For example, last practice we did shell drills working on man-2-man defense - helpside, swtiching screens, closing out, etc. Then we went straight into this 3-on-3 competition, and low and behold they all were using the defensive skills they just practiced. What an "a-HA!" moment!!!


Jay Phillp says:
9/3/2011 at 1:03:43 AM

I have an opportunity to take over for an 8th grade basketball team, which would also be a bump of $5k on my paycheck which is cool. I've never really played basketball, never made the team when I was in middle school and lost interest when I was in highschool. But I do love the idea of being a coach of a team and building their skills and fundamentals in order to win games. After visiting this website, I think I have a good idea where to start. I just wanted to say nice website and keep the stuff coming. Also it would be really cool if you added videos for each of these drills so that they are easier to understand. So far I've liked the pivot drill and the form shooting. I think that would be a great way to start teaching these guys. Then the spacing drill looks awesome and then this defense drill really re-inforces that. The one drill so far that seems a little hard to grasp for me was the break away drill. The more I read on this website the more I think I'm gonna take that coaching position, because it looks like it would be fun.


Storm Coach says:
2/9/2018 at 9:27:13 AM

This is a great drill. My girls loved it. I had planned to run it for 20 minutes. They wanted to do it for the full hour of practice. In addition to helping the girls work on defense, it changes the way they think about shooting, since missed shots cost a lot more than they seen to cost in a game. I can’t say enough good things about this drill.


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