Basketball Defensive Drills #1-5

For those coaching kids basketball teams, here are some basketball defensive drills that can be used with 1-3 people or a whole team.

Find basketball drills perfect for all levels, starting at the very beginning with the fundamentals and progressing to fun, competitive game-like situations.

After a quick intro to the basics of basketball defense and an explanation of the defensive stance, it's time to put your new skills into action against a ball handler.

Here are some good defensive basketball drills for your next youth basketball training session.

Basketball Defensive Drills 

DRILLS #1-5

Figure 8 Defensive Slide

3-Man Passing

Shadow Basketball

Up&Down Defensive Stance

1-on-2 Half Court

DRILLS #6-10

Zig-Zag Defensive Slide 

Close Out Drill

"Hey!" Drill

Reaction Drill

1-on-1 in the Lane

DRILLS #11-16

2-on-1 Help-Side

2-on-1 Deny the Pass

2-on-1 Help & Recover

Defensive Slide w/ Ball Pick-Up

3-on-2 / 2-on-1

1-on-1 / 2-on-2 / 3-on-3

Basketball Defensive Drills
1. Figure 8 Defensive Slide

This is a good warm-up defensive drill. It works on staying down in a good defensive stance, defensive footwork, and it helps with your agility, quickness, and overall basketball conditioning.

If you have access to a basketball court, you can use the lines of the court. If not, no big deal - just use cracks, sticks, or other markers.

Start in one corner of the court. You will eventually cover the entire court in a figure 8 pattern.

coaching basketball
  • Back peddle down the sideline to half-court, slap the floor with both hands, and yell, "Defense!"
  • Defensive slide across the half-court line to the opposite sideline, slap the floor, "Defense!"
  • Back peddle down the sideline to the baseline, slap the floor, "Defense!"
  • Defensive slide across the baseline to the opposite sideline, slap the floor, "Defense!"
  • Sprint up the sideline to half-court, slap the floor, "Defense!"
  • Defensive slide across the half-court line to the opposite sideline, slap the floor, "Defense!"
  • Sprint up the sideline to the baseline, slap the floor, "Defense!"
  • Defensive slide across the baseline back to the starting spot, slap the floor, "Defense!"

You can do this alone or have a dribbler go at the same time against the defender.


Basketball Defensive Drills
2. 3-Man Passing

This is a good drill to work on defending a player who is "dead" (they no longer have a dribble). It's also a good drill for working on pass fakes.

Two players pass the ball to each other with one defensive player in the middle. The defender guards the player with the ball and tries to keep him from passing to the other player. The defender bellies up to the passer and mirrors the ball with his hands.

When the passer passes the ball, he follows his pass to play defense on the receiver. The previous defender stays to be the next receiver.

It's a continuous drill with players rotating to a new spot on every pass with one player always in the middle.


Basketball Defensive Drills
3. Shadow Basketball

This is another good drill to improve your on-ball defense in a dead ball situation.

Two players face each other. One has a ball and the other is the defender. The one with the ball moves the ball around quickly like she is trying to make a pass. The defensive player mirrors the ball with both hands. Go for about 20 seconds and switch.


Basketball Defensive Drills
4. Up & Down Defensive Stance

This is a good drill for working on dead ball defense and getting down quickly into a defensive stance.

  • Two players face each other. One is on offense with a ball, and the other plays basketball defense.
  • The defender bellies up to the ball handler and shadows the ball with both hands.
  • After a few seconds, the ball handler brings the ball down to the triple threat position. The defender responds by getting down in a defensive stance and taking a quick retreat step back to keep an arm's length cushion between them.
basketball drills
  • After a few seconds, the offensive player puts the ball back above her head like she is looking for an overhead pass, and the defender bellies up to shadow the ball.
  • Go up and down like this 3 times.
  • After the third time, the ball handler dribbles 3 times and pick ups her dribble. The defender guards her and then bellies up on the dead ball.
  • The ball handler brings the ball back to the triple threat position and takes 3 dribbles in the other direction and picks up her dribble.
  • The defender guards the dribble and bellies up on the dead ball.
  • After a certain period of time, players can change positions.

Basketball Defensive Drills
5. 1-on-2 Half Court

Not only is this a great defensive drill, but it also helps ball handlers learn how to dribble the ball up the court against pressure.

One offensive player goes against 2 defensive players. The offensive player starts out with the ball at the baseline and tries to dribble to half court without losing the ball.

The defenders work together to pressure the ball handler while trying to influence her to the sideline. Work on moving your feet, so the dribbler has to work hard and change directions back and forth to move the ball up court.

If you want to give the offense a chance to score, you can start above half-court and come toward the basket.


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