Basketball Defensive Drills
Quick Reaction Drill

One of the more advanced basketball defensive drills, this Quick Reaction Drill is great for developing several aspects of good defense: getting in front of your man when he is cutting to the ball and cutting off the pass; helping out on defense when a teammate has been beaten; and simple, straight-up, man to man defense in both the low post as well as at the high post. Develops many defensive skills in a game-like situation.

Before introducing this drill, be sure you have spent some time teaching solid defensive skills, starting with the principles of man to man defense, and then refining them with some basic defensive drills. This drill assumes players know how to move on defense and have an understanding of how defensive team play works.

Another ability this drill helps develop is agility. At the very beginning of the pre-season, we use agility drills to improve the abilities of our players to move quickly, to act and react instantly. But as the pre-season moves on and especially once the schedule begins, we rarely tend to go back to these types of fundamental skills. Using drills such as this Quick Reaction drill are a good way to include some agility work within a skills drill.

Basketball Defensive Drills
Quick Reaction Drill

  • Players set up as in the diagram:
  • two offensive players, #1 at the far wing and #2 at the ball-side low post block
  • one defensive player on the far wing, guarding the offensive player
  • The coach is at the three point line with two basketballs

Basketball Defensive Drills - Quick ReactionSet Up
  • On the coach's whistle, the weak side offensive player flashes to the high post
  • The coach passes a ball to the cutting player
  • The defensive player must beat the offensive player to the high post and knock away the pass

Be sure the cutting player fakes a cut to the inside first; also ensure defense plays honest and doesn't float away before the flash cut

Basketball Defensive Drills - Quick ReactionFirst Pass & Knock Away
  • Immediately after the first cut and pass is made, the coach passes the second ball to the offensive player in the post
  • The defensive player must now sprint to the low post and guard the post player
  • The post player makes a power move against defender to go to the basket (i.e., no jump shots)

The "situation" would be that the low post defender has been taken out of the play and the defender (#3) is helping out by picking up the offensive player in the low post

Basketball Defensive Drills - Quick ReactionSecond Pass and Low Post Power Move

Basketball Defensive Drills
Quick Reaction Drill - Round 2

Essentially the same drill run in the opposite order

  • The coach passes first to the offensive player in the low post
  • The defender sprints across the key to front the low post player (cannot get there fast enough to knock the ball out of play)
  • The offensive man in the low post squares and threatens a move but does not drive.
  • The coach then passes the second pass to the far-side wing as the player cuts to the high post
  • The defensive man sprints to high post to guard the wing; they play a quick 1 on 1

Basketball Defensive Drills - Quick ReactionPass Low & One-on-One from Top of Key

Run the drill each way (i.e., pass first to the top, then low; reset and pass low first, then to the top); then switch up players. Make sure each player gets to rotate through each spot (even smaller players will benefit from practicing a power move down low)

Again, a great opportunity to practice a number of defensive skills in a game-like situation. And even though this drill is filed under Basketball Defensive Drills, primarily aimed at improving defense, the power move down low and the one-on-one at the top help improve the ability of your players to score against strong man-to-man defense.

This is a quick drill but effective; plan for it to take up about 5-10 minutes of practice time.

Like all drills that try to emulate game situations, ensure your players are moving quickly - e.g., offensive players must make strong power moves down low, not waiting for the defensive man to set up.

“Defense is all about helping. No one can guard a good dribbler. You have to walk kids through how to help and then how to help the helper”

– Bob Knight

Looking for something more visual?

Try UMass Head Coach Derek Kellogg's video package of drills