Basketball Defense Drills for Youth and Beginners

Being a strong defender is going to make you a better all around player & it is often toted as the thing that wings championships. It is true when people say that the best offense is a good defense as your goal when playing basketball is not just to score for your team. Your goal should be to prevent your opponent from scoring while helping your team put up some points.

Defense is first and foremost about willpower, and mental toughness. However even players lacking these can improve with defensive basketball drills. Today we will be covering a couple of fun basketball drills that will help you build up your defensive skills on the court.

10 Basketball Defense Drills That Produce Results

Defensive Reaction Drill

This is a fun basketball drill that helps in improving agility, quickness, and defensive skill. Begin by pairing up with a teammate. Begin in a strong defensive stance. Either another teammate or your coach needs to stand in front to give hand signals for you to respond to:

  • Down – You as a defender bend down to hit the floor with both hands. When you hit the floor, loudly yell defense, then begin to sprint in place until the next signal is called.
  • Up – You as a defender stand up with both of your hands high in the air as if reaching up for a rebound coming down from the basket.
  • Right – You as a defender slides to the right at a forty five degree angle until the next sign is given. If the next sign is a slide to the left, you need to perform a drop step to change your direction prior to sliding.
  • Left – You as a defender slides to the left at a forty five degree angle until the next sign is given. If the next sign is a slide to the right, you need to perform a drop step to change your direction prior to sliding.

Perform this drill for ten full minutes to gain both speed and defensive skill. Check out this video..

Behind The Back Dribble Drill

For this drill you will have 1 player playing defense, this player will keep their hands behind their back for the entire possession, until it’s time to rebound. This drill forces the player to move his feet, he can’t cheat for steals, he can’t even fully contest the shot.

This will force the defender to focus on defensive positioning; this is the secret to great defense regardless of size or athleticism. Trying to play defense without your hands can be hard, the defender will get scored on more often than not, but it is a great learning experience.

It is also humbling for many players who rely too much on shot blocking and stealing, they will feel defenseless. This feeling will remind them that cheating for blocks and steals are not everything.

2 on 1 Drill

This defensive basketball drill is awesome. The defender tries to play defense on 2 offensive players, being at such a disadvantage forces the defender to make a decision quickly. Learning how to make quick decisions is essential if you want to be a great defender.

What better way to simulate this then by sending two offensive players to try to score on a single defender. You can turn these into two lines with the person who just played defense gets in the offense line. While the two people who just played offense go into the defense line. This will make it so everybody has to deal with the experience of being alone against two offensive players.

Checkout the video below for more information on 2 on 1 drill from coach John Calipari.

Deny The Pass

In this drill, you will learn how to prevent the offense from passing the ball to another player. This drill works best in groups of three players. Two of the players will be on the offense, and the third will be on defense.

To begin, one of the offensive players begins at half court with the basketball. The second offensive player begins standing on the side of the free throw line. The defensive player begins in a good defensive position near the offensive player without the basketball.

The offensive player who does not have the ball needs to work to get open. The defender needs to react by moving with the player to remove the passing lane. The player on offense only has five seconds to get free as the first player with the ball will pass the ball within that time.

If by chance the offensive player receives the pass, the defender needs to go one on one with the offensive player and attempt to prevent them from scoring.

When running this drill, each player will switch up the roles after each pass in. Ensure that you perform this drill at least five times in each position.

Advanced Offensive Dribble

This is one of the best basketball drills I’ve taught to my offensive and defensive players. When watching basketball, you will notice that the best scorers utilize skills and techniques like what you will be learning in this drill. A good offensive player understands that you need to create space between the defender and yourself. To effectively create space between you and your defender, you need to get the defender to move aggressively in one direction which will create space then make your move.

Basketball Defense Drills For Youth

The object of this drill is to learn how to fake your defender out in regards to which direction they believe you will be going in, then once they move the wrong way, you make your move. Practicing this drill will make you a much stronger offensive player.

To perform this correctly you will want to be extremely aggressive on the court. Being aggressive will help you build the space you need when you fake out the defender. With a lot of power move in a direction and get your defender’s velocity going after you. As the defender moves to follow your direction, quickly step backwards to create a gap.

Now that you have some space, take a few more steps around to create additional space to take an accurate low stress jump shot. Using this technique is much easier than trying to take a shot while being covered and well-defended at the rim. It is important to remember not to take short steps backwards, you want to create a lot of distance between you and the defender.

To prepare for this drill, you and a team mate should begin at half court. You are on offense and your team mate is the defender. Let your team mate check the ball in to you and from their aggressively head towards the rim. Attempt to fake out your defender and create space at least two to three times before taking your shot.

If you make your shot, begin the drill again with you as on the offense and your team mate as the defender. If the defender is able to stop you from making your shot or steal the ball from you, switch roles and begin the drill again. Perform this for at least 10 minutes a day and you will greatly improve both your offense and defensive skills.

Advanced Defensive Slide

This basketball drill will focus on putting pressure on the opposing team’s offense. In order to be strong defensively, you need to have good focus on the ball, and also be able to get your arms and hands up to not only attempt to block shots, but put pressure on your opponent.

When practicing the Advanced Defensive Slide basketball drill, stand defensively at the corner of the court. Begin to slide as fast and as forcefully to the free throw line. As you reach your destination on the court, pretend that you are defending an opponent who is about to go up for a shot.

At this point you will want to jump with as much strength as you have to pretend to block the shot. When you reach the ground, rotate and pretend to block your opponent. Perform this basketball drill a total of ten times, alternating your starting point from each side of the court.

As you get more comfortable with this drill, you can add a twist to it to help you rebound the ball better once your opponent has missed the shot due to the pressure you put on them. Similarly to the last drill, begin at one corner of the court and slide as fast and strong as you can to the middle of the lane. When you reach your destination, pretend that your opponent that you are guarding is going for shot.

Jump up with as much strength as you can to attempt to block a shot. When you return to the ground, rotate to block your opponent. In this situation, pretend the ball is bouncing off the rim, take a couple of steps towards the rim, and jump as high as you can for the rebound. Be sure to land safely with balance, and rotate in the direction of your basket and pretend to pass the ball to your team mate. Perform this basketball drill ten times, alternating your starting position from each end of the court.

Box Out Basketball Defensive Drill

It will require three shooters to be placed around the arc. These should be spaced out evenly at normal guard shooting positions. Then a group of 6 to 8 individuals should be paired off with one group of 3 to 4 spaced around the arc and the other group of 3 to 4 underneath the hoop. The Three shooters should then pass the ball around the arc until one of them decides to shoot.

At this point the defenders under the hoop should yell shot, run to box out their partner, ensure they box them out, then turn and find the ball and get the rebound. Then the drill is reset. The 3 to 4 offensive players should be trying to get the rebound. The defensive players will stay on defense until they have secured 3 rebounds, then the group switches. The group stays the defenders until they secure 3 rebounds. This drill should be done no less than 5 minutes.

This will require your team and is a 3 on 2, to 2 on 1 drill. This also has an element of offense and tends to be a fun drill for the whole team. First a group of three players starts at the far end of the floor with the ball. Two players are in the key at the other end of the floor set to play defense. The group with the ball brings the ball down the court to the two players ready to play defense.

Speed Up Drills for Defense

If you take a look at the best defensive basketball players, you will notice they all have one thing in common and that is their speed and quickness to react on the court. In order to become quicker on the court there are few things you can work on. I recommend performing foot speed types of drills which include defensive slides, jumping rope, and practicing your sprints.

To perform defensive slides, begin at the corner of the court on the baseline. Slide to the middle of the lane, and then slide back to the sideline. You want to continue performing this drill up court until you reach the opposite baseline. This drill will really improve your quickness when it comes to switching directions and staying focused. See the video below for an example of defensive slides.

When it comes to jumping rope, you will want to begin with a 60 second warm up. During the warm up phase, jump rope as a slow pace. Once your warm up is complete, begin jumping rope with both feet for 60 seconds, then alternate feet for 60 seconds, then jump on one foot for 60 seconds, and finally jump on just the other foot for 60 seconds. Perform five sets of this basketball drill and watch your foot speed really improve!

Lastly, you will want to focus on building up your sprinting ability. This will help you catch a quick offensive player running down the court. The best way to build up your sprints is to go to a track and begin with an easy warm up lap. Take this initial lap at a jogging pace. Once you’re done with the warm up, make your way over to the longer straight away portion of the track and just run sprints back and forth. Start with a shorter distance and work up to more as time goes on. I recommend beginning with about twenty five yard sprints. Perform at least twenty sprints, resting when needed.

Defensive Rebounding Drills

The Players play 2 vs 3 until a shot is taken. It is important that the shooting team work the ball to get a nice shot. The goal of the defenders are to move and force the offensive players to take the lowest percentage shot they can manage. Once a shot is taken the defending players should move and box out one of the offenders. The offence should try to rebound and should until either the ball is rebounded by a defender or the ball goes through the hoop. When either of this happens the athlete who last shot the ball will run to the other end of the court and will play defense 2 vs 1 against the previous defending players.

The two players remaining will now be on defense. At the 2 vs 1 end of the court the offensive players will try to score. The play is over when either the ball goes through the hoop or the defender stops the ball. At this point the next set of three players brings the ball down the court to the two new defenders at the other end. This drill should be down for 5 minutes at least. This is also more easily done with two basketballs.

Agility Cone Drill

This is another drill that will really build on your speed, agility, and balance on the court. To perform this basketball drill, you will want three cones. Place each cone approximately two to three large steps away from each other.

Start in a balanced position facing forward behind the middle cone, push off the floor with your left foot laterally and move either to the right cone. Quickly push off of your right foot to move back to the center cone, and again push off your right foot and move to the left cone. Push off of your left foot and return to the center cone. At minimum perform this drill for five sets at one minute per set.

As you progress with this drill, you will want to change it up a little to include cross over movements with your legs. Instead of moving your feet in a lateral motion, you will cross over your feet when moving between the cones.

Final Word

If you incorporate these drills into your regular practice, you will see a huge jump in defensive skill level. There’s nothing quite like stepping into the fire and placing yourself in hard situation on purpose! Hope you enjoyed these great bball defensive drills guides.