For many basketball coaches this time of the year typically means two things; football season and the start of intense preparation for the upcoming season.
As you look forward to not only your games but also to your practices, I’d like to remind you of the benefits of defensive stations.
Many of you might be asking yourself, “What is so important about defensive stations”? The reason why defensive stations are so crucial, especially early in the season, is that defense is strictly habitual.
The earlier that you can start building your athlete’s defensive foundation and creating good defensive habits, the stronger your defense will operate as a whole.
More importantly, what separates great defensive teams from average ones is the ability to stop opponents at the end of the game.
By the end of the season nearly every team will be able to score the basketball on a semi-consistent basis. But very few of these teams will consistently be able to get stops! Regardless of offensive output, if your team cannot shut teams down on the defensive end they will never reach their full potential.
Before organizing stations, it is necessary to first identify how many baskets you will have available to you as well as how many assistant coaches are at your disposal. The combination of these two factors will help you determine how many stations you can work on every day.
Before you can proceed to teach advanced defensive techniques in these stations, you must initially start by building a strong foundation in the individual defenders. No matter what kind of defensive scheme you are going to run this upcoming season, it will only be as good as the individual defenders that make it up.
All great defenders must be superb in three things; 1) stance 2) closing out/ball pressure and 3) boxing out and pursuing rebounds.
**Since there are literally hundreds of drills you can use, the ones below are presented merely to get you thinking about what can be run to emphasize the specific technique.**
Station 1: Stance
No matter how far your break down your team or individual defense the starting block will always be the stance. A proper stance will allow athletes to react and slide more quickly to the movements of the offense.
Zigzag Drill: Perhaps the best drill to perfect stance technique and build leg strength is the Zigzag Drill. To start the drill, have players line up in the corner where the baseline meets the sideline.
Have players face the baseline and begin sliding slowly towards the free-throw line. Once they reach the free throw line, players will open up their defensive stance and continue sliding towards the sideline at half court. Players will then continue sliding slowly until they reach the far free throw line and then the opposite baseline.
After an appropriate amount of time is spent perfecting a defensive stance through the use of the Zigzag Drill, an offensive ball handler can be added to the drill. Offensive players should be reminded that this drill is to help the defense and therefore should not try to “beat” the defender.
Station 2: Closing Out and Ball Pressure
The second station is going to be dedicated to defending the offensive player once he has received a pass.
Smother Drill: To start the drill have players line up on each block with a coach, manager, or other player on each wing. The players on the block will pass the basketball to the coach and then begin to closeout on the ball.
The coach will then get into triple threat. After closing out players will then trace the ball for 5 seconds. At the end of 5 seconds players will switch lines. If you are using players on the wings then rotate from defense to offense to end of other line.
Station 3: Box Out and Pursue
The third station is designed for players to work on their actions once the ball has been shot.
Hammer Drill: To start with, have players line up on the baseline under the basket. Two players will then step out on the block, one on offense and the other on defense. A coach will start with a ball on the opposite side of the key.
As soon as the coach shoots the ball, the defensive player must find his man, make contact and then go after the rebound. In the very beginning have the offense only go about half speed, but once the defender has improved his technique let the offense go 100%. Players will rotate from offense to defense to off.
As mentioned before these three drills are just samplings of what can be accomplished at each station. In fact you might want to have several drills in each category that can be constantly alternated so you can teach the same principle many different ways.
The important thing is to get your players several reps at every station in every single practice so they can perfect their defensive stance, close outs, and box outs. If you do this it won’t be long before you see a noticeable difference in performance.
by Dave Stricklin
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