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3 Simple Yet Very Effective Transition Defense Drills

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3 "Absolutes" for a great transition defense:

  • Communication
  • Hustle
  • Improvisation ( think quick on your feet)

As a coach you HATE to see the other team get a long rebound or steal a bad pass and get a fast break layup or dunk on the other end. It absolutely kills you because it allows your opponent to score easily, can change the momentum of a game, and makes your team look slow or lazy. Give up too many of these in a game and people soon start to question "What the heck do they do in practice!?"

Like everything in the game of basketball, a great transition defense takes time, commitment, and repetition to develop. It is not something that is going to improve overnight, but by spending as little as 10 minutes a day emphasizing the three absolutes listed above, you can minimize your opponent's transition and breakaway opportunities.

Here are three basic drills that you can use with players of any age to help build a great transition defense. I guarantee you that even if do only one of these drills a day you will see major results almost immediately. (Because these are full-court drills and require a basketball you will most likely see improvements in your team's conditioning and ball handling as well!)

Remember basketball is a game of habits and so it is up to YOU to make sure that your players are practicing good habits and are practicing hard. When the game starts, you cannot fault the players for not communicating, for not going 100 percent, or for making bad decisions when it comes to transition defense if you allow those things to happen in practice!

1. Start with 5 players lined up across the baseline and 5 more players lined up across from them on the free throw line extended.

2. The coach then passes the ball to one of the players on the baseline.

3. As soon as that happens the defender across from the ball must now run and touch the baseline while the 5 offensive players transition into offense

4. The 4 remaining defenders must now communicate and hustle until the 5th man can recover and get back on defense

Teaching Point:

An overall theme of transition defense is communication. The more communication that takes place amongst your defenders the better your defense will become. Communication should be both verbal and non verbal and when both forms are combined, your players can really become more aware of everything that is happening on the court. To emphasize this, insist that all 4 defenders point to the ball and yell out their position in relation to the ball when running back on defense.

Want to make this drill even tougher? Once your team gets comfortable with covering up 5 on 4, send two defenders to touch the baseline. Now your defense has to cover up 5 on 3 until help arrives. You can mix it up further by calling out player's names, or designating certain spots for touching the baseline.

1. Split your players into two teams

2. Have two players from each team start out on defense on their respective side of the court

3. Start with three offensive players at half court

4. On the whistle the offense starts to attack. As soon as the ball crosses half court, the next defender can run into the center circle and then join the play

5. Once the Defense gets the ball, whether by getting a steal, grabbing a rebound or after a made basket, they turn around and head the other way on offense

1. Once the offense crosses half court, the third defender runs in and touches the center circle and joins the play

2. Now it is 3 on 3

3. Continue alternating sides in this in this manner until the drill ends

Teaching Point: This is already a competitive drill but a great way to make it even more competitive is to keep score. Play to 13 points by 1's and 2's and have the losing team run. You'll be amazed at how hard the kids will get after it!

Another great way to instill a competitive spirit is split the kids up by age, grade or even teams (ex: 5th graders vs. 6th graders or JV vs. Varsity)

1. Designate on player to start on defense the rest of the players line up on the opposite end of the court on the baseline

2. 2 offensive players step out, and play on offense going the other way. The ball can either be dribbled up the court by one player or passed back and forth.

3. After the basket is made or a rebound is secured, the shooter is now on defense, while the other offensive player and the original defender attack the other way on offense.

TEACHING POINT:

Do not let the lone defender ever turn his back on the pass receiver because as soon as he over commits a simple pass will lead to a layup. Instead have him keep his back towards the basket and "fake & retreat." Execute this by taking a big jab step towards the ball handler and then quickly retreating to the pass receiver while looking to steal the pass. The defender would much rather give up a 15 foot jump shot than a layup!

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