Basketball Defensive Drills
The Check Rotation Drill

Most basketball defensive drills deal with developing individual skills (such as the Full court 1-on-1 drill) or possibly working with one other partner (as in the 3 in the Corner Double Team Drill.) And these drills are effective in what they teach. But the Check Rotation drill gets much closer to what happens when we actually play basketball games.

One common problem with players playing man to man defense is that they often are afraid to leave their man to help out - they've been told to guard this player, and they intend to stick with that player. Which is usually what we want, but players need to be able to react to what is happening elsewhere on the court if they are going to contribute to the overall team defense and stop the other team from scoring.

The Check Rotation Drill works on improving players' ability to pick up offensive players who have beaten their man. It is a good drill to teach defensive play as a team, to get players to view defense not as one-on-one responsibilities but as a team responsibility.

Basketball Defensive Drills
The Check Rotation Drill

Setup and Rotation #1

  • The drill requires 6 players, set up in man to man defense as shown in the diagram above.
  • Offensive Player #1 (OP1) has the ball. On the coach's whistle, OP1 drives past his defensive player toward the key (defensive player #1 (DP1) allows the drive.)
  • DP2 rotates down to pick up OP1 and stop the drive
Basketball Defensive Drills - Check rotationCheck Rotation - Rotation #1

Rotation #2

  • OP1 passes to the top of the key to OP2
  • Immediately DP3 rotates across to pin down the new ball carrier.
Basketball Defensive DrillsCheck Rotation - Rotation #2

Rotation #3

  • OP2 swings the ball across the top of the key to OP3
  • Immediately DP1 rotates through the key to pick up the new ball carrier
Basketball Defensive DrillsCheck Rotation - Rotation #3

The initial part of this defensive drill is very quick, with passing and rotations happening fast. After it is run through a few times and players understand what they are doing and where they are going, the drill should be run at game speed. And once the ball reaches the third offensive player, the two teams play a 3-on-3 game.

Good man to man defense is more than a one-on-one situation - it is part of a 5-on-5 situation. Players don't play defense in isolation. Effective basketball defensive drills like this one do more than teach skills, they also teach your defensive players how to work together. Make sure they are talking to each other, calling for help when needed. When the 3-on-3 game begins, be sure they continue to talk, calling out screens and so on.

This is a great drill to develop teamwork above all, and to make players realize that, even in man to man defensive situations, they need to play together as a team if they want to win basketball games.

"Victory isn't defined by wins or losses. It is defined by effort. If you can truthfully say, 'I did the best I could, I gave everything I had,' then you're a winner."

- Wolfgang Schadler