Effective Drills For Youth Basketball Defense

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Is Youth Basketball Defense really that important? Many players, parents and coaches may ask themselves this question. After all, there are so many other aspects of basketball that need to be practiced. Who has time for defense?







Well, it's been said many times before, "Defense wins championships!"

Defense also helps players build confidence and pride in their game. So, who has time for defense? The coaches, players and parents that want to be the best they can at the game of basketball - including defense!

The only way to get better at youth basketball defense is to practice the drills that will help improve a player's defensive skill level. Some players seem to be born to play great defense. While others need a little more encouragement to make this a priority in their game. Either way, players need the right drills to practice and improve their youth basketball defense.

By understanding and practicing these Drills For Youth Basketball Defense...

  • Players will have a better knowledge of the skills needed to become an effective defensive basketball player. They will also begin to take pride in this aspect of their game.
  • Parents will be more capable of helping their child improve this area of their game. They will be in a better position to support and guide their child as they practice these drills.
  • Coaches will have a solid foundation of defensive drills that will help their players improve this aspect of their game. This will help each player improve their individual defensive skills, while also helping improve the overall team defense.

As you work on these drills, please keep in mind the basic fundamentals of playing defense. For valuable defensive tips please visit our page on coaching basketball defense.


Drills For Youth Basketball Defense


1. Youth Basketball Defense - Stance Drill


Goal - To practice the proper defensive position and stance.

Equipment - Basketball court, full-court or half-court. One basketball.

Action - Players will form four even lines and spread out on the court facing the coach who will be positioned on the sideline. Players will be in the basic defensive position/stance and will be prepared to move according to the following actions by the coach.

Coach's Action - Defensive Action

1. Triple threat position - Basic defensive position.

2. Back dribble - Forward defensive slide.

3. Dribble drive right - Defensive angle slide left.

4. Dribble drive left - Defensive angle slide right.

5. Side dribble right - Defensive side slide left.

6. Side dribble left - Defensive side slide right.

7. Basketball overhead - Defensive position with hands around the ball.

8. Shooting the basketball- Hand up, yell "shot", box out, and rebound.


2. Youth Basketball Defense - Zigzag Drill


Goal - To practice the proper footwork needed to perform the defensive angle slide down the court.

Equipment - Basketball court, full-court.

Action - Players will form four lines at one of the baselines. The coach will be positioned at half-court. The first player in each line will step on the court with their back to the coach. On the coaches command, the players will perform the defensive angle slide in a zigzag manner down the court. Once the players cross half-court, the next player in line can begin.

Note - The coach should start all players in the same direction to avoid collisions.

Note - Players should concentrate on maintaining the proper defensive stance the entire way down the court - even as their legs begin to fatigue. This will help improve their endurance on defense.


3. Youth Basketball Defense - O vs. D Zigzag Drill


Goal - To practice the proper footwork needed to perform the defensive angle slide against an offensive player.

Equipment - Basketball court, full-court. One basketball for every other person in line.

Action - Players will form four lines at one of the baselines. The coach will be positioned at half-court. The first player in each line will step on the court with their back to the coach. The next player in line will have a basketball.

On the coach’s command, the offensive players will perform a dribble drive right, followed by a crossover dribble, followed by a dribble drive left. The defensive player will perform the proper defensive angle slide needed to keep the offensive player in front of them. Once the players cross half-court, the next two players in line can begin. The players will switch roles at the other end of the court.

Note - Players should concentrate on maintaining the proper defensive stance the entire way down the court - even as their legs begin to fatigue. This will help improve their endurance on defense.

Note - Players should work hard to keep the offensive player in front of them. They should also work to cut off their dribble drive, forcing them to use the crossover dribble.

Option - This can be also be a live ball drill. In this case the offensive player tries to beat the defender down the court, while the defender tries to steal the basketball or force a turnover.


4. Youth Basketball Defense - One on One Drill


Goal - To practice the proper defensive footwork needed to prevent the offensive player from scoring a basket.

Equipment - Basketball court, full-court. One basketball per group.

Action - Players will divide into groups under each basket. Half of the group (defense) will be under the basket. The other half (offense) will be at the top of the key.

The defender starts the drill by making a chest pass to the offensive player and then closes out to play defense. The offensive player must catch the ball, get into a good triple-threat position, read the defender, and then either take a shot or make an outside move and drive to the basket. The defender needs to be prepared to read the offensive player and play proper defense against the move. Players will switch lines after their turn.

Note - This is a live ball drill. Players should play until a shot is made or the defender gains possession of the ball by stealing or rebounding it.

Note - This drill can also run as a two-on-two or three-on-three drill.


5. Youth Basketball Defense - Shell Drill


Goal - To practice the proper defensive positioning, footwork and fundamentals against an offensive team in a controlled setting.

Equipment - Basketball court, full-court or half-court. One basketball per group.

Action - Players will divide into groups of five. Depending on the number of players on your team, this drill will take place at one or more baskets.

One group will be the offensive team. They will be positioned around the perimeter in the following manner - one player at the top of the key, one player at each of the wings, and one player at each of the corners. The other group will be the defensive team. Each defensive player will guard an offensive player.

As the offensive team passes the ball around the perimeter, the defensive team will practice proper on-the-ball, off-the-ball, and help-side defense. The defensive players should concentrate on proper defensive stance, footwork and movement. While also working on seeing the basketball and their opponent at all times.

Note - This drill should be run slowly at first. Stop the action after each pass and check for the proper defensive positioning. Once the defensive players are comfortable with this drill, speed up the action - slowing it down or stopping it as needed.

Option - This drill can also start from different offensive alignments, such as a 1-2-2 or 1-3-1. This will help the defense understand their responsibilities against different offensive sets.

Option - Movement can also be added to this drill. After an offensive player makes a pass, they can cut to the basket looking for a return pass. This will help the defensive team work on defending a cut and helping out their teammates.

These are some of the basic drills for helping your players improve their youth basketball defense. As with any aspect of basketball, there are hundreds of drills to help teach proper defense. These drills should give all coaches a solid foundation that will help them establish their defensive strategies and techniques.

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I hope you found these Drills For Youth Basketball Defense to be helpful and informative. These are some of the best drills used to teach players the basic fundamentals of playing defense aggressively and effectively.

Once again, playing great defense improves a players overall game, while helping improve their team's level of success! Every player needs to be a solid defender!

If you need more valuable information on these youth basketball defense drills or other basketball topics, I would suggest you purchase some good basketball books and videos. These will provide you with a wealth of knowledge about the game of basketball.







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