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Basketball Defensive Drills To Help Shut Down Your Opponent

The Basketball Defensive Drills below will help players and teams play great defense!

We’ve all heard the saying, “Defense wins championships!” I truly believe this statement – and it’s certainly been proven over the years at every level of competition.

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To me playing great defense does something more important than just helping win championships…it also helps players build confidence and pride in their game.

The only way to become better on the defensive end of the court is to practice the basketball defensive drills that will help improve a player’s and team’s defensive skill level.

Have you ever noticed how some players seem to be born to play great defense. They are scrappy and aggressive, and seem to have a knack for defense.

I’m sure you’ve also noticed how some other players need a little more encouragement to make defense a priority in their game. Either way, players need the right basketball defensive drills to practice and improve this critical aspect of their game.

By understanding and practicing these Basketball Defensive Drills

  • Players will have a better understanding 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.
  • 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 basketball defensive drills, please keep in mind the basic fundamentals of playing defense. For some great tips on these fundamentals please visit our page on basketball defensive tips.

Basketball Defensive Drills

Basketball Defensive Drill #1: Gut Drill

Description – This is a great defensive conditioning drill for the whole team.

Instructions – Players will start under the basket at one end of the court. The first player in line will start by doing a rim touch. They will then back-pedal to free throw line. Next, they will do a defensive slide to the left sideline followed by a defensive slide to opposite half-court sideline.

From there they will do a defensive slide to the hash mark on the opposite sideline followed by a defensive slide to the free throw line. To finish, they will sprint off the floor to the corner and then sprint to the end of the court where they started.

Players – Entire team.

Tips – Players should stay low in a good defensive stance. They should go as fast as possible while remaining under control.

Variations – A net touch or backboard touch can be used to start the drill if players aren’t able to touch the rim.

Skills – Defensive Slide, Defensive Stance, Conditioning, Speed, Agility, & Quickness.

Basketball Defensive Drill #2: Charging Drill

Description – Players will learn how to properly take a charge at game speed.

Instructions – Players will form 2 lines. Player 1 will start with the basketball at the top of the key. Player 2 will start just outside of the 3-point line in the corner.

On the coach’s whistle, player 1 will attempt a lay-up at full speed. Player 2 must sprint to get in front of the basket, attempting to take the charge. Player 2 must have their feet set, collapse on contact, and slide on their bottoms and hands to ensure a safe fall to the floor.

This is a very physical drill that will not only help the defensive players learn to take a charge, but will also teach the offensive players to take the ball aggressively to the basket.

Players – 2.

Tips – Players must go at full speed. Defensive players must protect themselves as they get set to take the charge: Boys cover their groin area, and girls cover their chest area.

Variations – The players can start from different areas of the court. This will teach them how to set up for a charge at different angles and positions.

Skills – Running, Dribbling, Defense, & Taking A Charge.

Basketball Defensive Drill #3: Quick Close-out Drill

Description – This drill focuses on the defensive player performing a proper close-out on a shooter. When the shot is taken a proper box-out must be performed along with a rebound, proper pivot, and strong outlet pass to the shooter who will be at the free-throw line area.

Instructions – Players will form a line behind the baseline on the right side of the free-throw lane line. Player 1 will be the shooter at the elbow. Player 2 will be the defensive player and will start at the baseline with the basketball.

On the coach’s whistle, player 2 passes the ball to player 1 who squares up for a shot. Player 2 closes out and yells, “Shot”, and then turns and boxes out the shooter.

Player 2 then goes aggressively after the rebound, catches the ball with elbows out and pivots towards the shooter who is yelling, “outlet”. At this point, the shooter has rotated to the opposite elbow. The defensive player passes the ball to the shooter and goes through the same sequence.

After the third sequence the shooter remains at the starting elbow. After receiving the basketball – the shooter passes the ball to the baseline and the defensive player hustles to the elbow and becomes the shooter.

After their shooting sequence, the players go to the end of the line. During the drill, players on the baseline should encourage their teammates. The drill is done three times for a total of 9 sequences per player with increased intensity during each set of three.

Players – 2.

Tips – This drill develops proper rebounding and close-outs on shooters. By having the shooter involved with the “outlet” they are learning game situations. It is important to have a high level of intensity during this drill.

This drill will tire the players out a little and can also be a good tool for discipline if done properly. Mistakes and lack of intensity are cause for sprints or other physical discipline.

Variations – This drill can be performed at more than one basket. If several baskets are being used, then four players should start at each basket to get more reps for each player. The number of sequences can also be increased from three to five for a real good work-out.

Skills – Rebounding, Pivoting, Passing, & Quick Release Shooting.

Basketball Defensive Drill #4: 2-Man Loose Ball Drill

Description – This drill is designed to teach players to get on the floor and go after loose balls – instead of reaching for the ball.

Instructions – Players will form 2 lines under the basket on each side of the backboard. The coach will start in the middle of the two lines with the basketball. The coach will roll or bounce the ball anywhere in the half-court to start the drill.

The first player in each line will go aggressively after the ball. The player who controls the ball becomes the offensive player and attempts to score by driving to the basket. The other player becomes the defensive player and attempts to prevent a basket from being scored.

Players – 2.

Tips – This is a very physical drill. Anything goes as the players are going after the ball. It is important for the coach to maintain control of this drill and make sure the players aren’t using excessive force or dirty play. Also, the players should be matched up against players of similar size and physical ability.

Variations – This can also be a full-court drill. The baskets can also be numbered to get the players to react to the coach’s command.

Skills – Getting on the floor and going aggressively after the basketball, Dribbling, Driving To The Basket, & Defense.


I hope you found these Basketball Defensive Drills 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 player’s overall game, while helping improve their team’s success! Every player needs to learn how to be a great defensive player.