Posted by Coach Dave Stricklin on October 22, 2013
It has become extremely obvious in recent years that having superior athletes is going to help ignite your defensive presence. With athletic players on the defensive side of the ball you will be able to apply additional pressure on the ball handlers and passers, stop dribble penetration and transition from defense to offense quicker and more effectively (which is seldom emphasized).
I am sure that every coach would like to see his team improve in those three areas. However if you walk into various gyms throughout the country you will find many coaches only implementing various shell type drills in order to teach all aspects of defense. While these drills are great for working on team defensive specifics it does not address individual defensive agility. No matter which defensive scheme you run, it will be more effective if you have better athletes.
One area that athletes really need to work on is the transition from defensive slide to full sprint. Below are three drills that train that very movement. After spending as little as 10 minutes 2-3x a week your athletes will notice an incredible difference in their defensive footwork speed.
This first drill is great for all basketball players as it works on changing speeds in all three primary classifications; forward, backward and laterally. Players start at the bottom cone facing half court. They begin the drill by sliding 3 slides across the middle of the key. Once they return to their original starting position they will now sprint to the first cone. Upon reaching the first cone the athletes will back pedal back to the first cone where they will again proceed to slide 3 times across the key and back. Players will now sprint to the third cone and once they are there they will back pedal back to the first cone. Again they will slide 3 times across the middle of the key and back and then sprint to half court to end the drill.
In the second drill players will again line up facing half court. To start players will slide to the first cone 5 feet away and then they will turn and sprint to the farthest cone. After reaching the farthest cone they will turn around and now sprint to the sideline.
The last drill is great for teams who utilize a full court man to man press. Athletes will start on the free-throw line facing half court. Just like when guarding a ball handler, athletes will now slide backward diagonally to the first cone and then will turn and slide in like manner to the second and third cones as well. Once they slide past the third cone, the players will now full on sprint to the three point line. The emphasis of this drill is on improving the quickness of the first 3 steps of each player's sprint.