We’ve all heard that defense wins championships. But how do you become a better defender? Is it technique, athleticism or desire? Keep reading and find out how to get quicker for defense.
Being a great defender starts with desire. It takes a special mindset to stay engaged, in a stance, ready to do whatever it takes to get a stop.
If players only realized how they could impact the game and earn more playing time by locking down their opponents, they’d include weekly lateral quickness drills into their training.
I tell my players:
“If you’re not committed, I can’t help you. If you are committed, I can’t stop you!”
When you have desire, you’ll find a way to be a great defender. If you don’t have desire, you’ll find a way to make an excuse.
Not all lateral quickness drills will help you become a better defender. In basketball, you have to shuffle back at angles, not directly sideways.
If you go strictly lateral, you’ll run into the offensive player and get called for a blocking foul.
I use a three part progression to teach players how to load & explode off their trail leg, react while shifting their weight, and slow down their momentum while closing out.
Here’s a video to help you get quicker for defense:
This foundational drill teaches you to open up your hips so you can stay in front of your opponent.
I start with this drill first because it improves balance and teaches players to use their trail to leg to generate force.
While players will use both legs to shuffle, your trail leg will produce most of the power when you’re playing defense.
The next exercise in the progression teaches athletes how to shuffle while their body is shifting in all directions.
When an offensive player jab steps, it could move you back, sideways or even rotate you. You’ll have to start quickly from all these positions.
I progress this drill by having my players react to a visual command so they don’t know if they’re shuffling left or right.
One of the most difficult positions a defender can be put in is closing out on the perimeter. Your mass & momentum is flying forward and you’re unsure if the offensive player is going to shoot or drive.
To replicate this demand, I have players add bands for extra resistance.