Basketball Practice Drills
5 on 4 Defensive Shell Drill


Most basketball practice drills that focus on defense tend to work on man to man defensive skills, which is important - the base of any defensive play will always be man to man defensive fundamentals. But you also need your team to work together, and if you are running a zone defense, this becomes an even more important basketball skill.

Basketball is a team game - no matter how polished the individual skills of your players - offensive or defensive - they will mean little if the team as a whole can't come together.

So the following shell drill is designed to strengthen that aspect of team defense, to help players work with each other to stop penetration into the key. Players still require the individual defensive skills like proper stance, quick foot movement, and so on. But they also need to work with the player next to them to essentially double team the driving offensive player and stop him cold.

This basketball practice drill will be particularly useful if you are running the Box and 1 or Box and None defenses, as it sets up the defense in a 4 man box to defend against 5 offensive players (statistically, 4 defensive players should be as capable of defending as 5 defensive players would be).



The #1 objective of a double team is to make the player pick up the ball, not to steal it - that's how fouls happen


Tweet: #1 objective of a double team is to make the player pick up the ball, not to steal it - that's how fouls happen. http://bit.ly/5on4Def


Basketball Practice Drills: 5-on-4 Defensive Shell Drill

Instructions to Players

  • Defenders cannot be flat-footed - they must be low, hands out, on the balls of their feet, so that they can quickly react to whatever happens

  • Defensive players must focus on stopping the penetration - not intercepting passes

  • Defensive players must keep their hands up to crowd out passing lanes and obstruct the vision of offensive players

  • In this drill, offensive players cannot cut into the key unless they are driving to the hoop



Basketball Practice Drills: 5-on-4 Defensive Shell Drill

How the Drill Works

  • Players are set up as in diagram 1 - 5 offense and 4 defense, with the defense set up in a square and the offensive players spread across the court behind the three point line
  • The offensive players cannot move inside the three point line unless they have the ball
  • Offensive players pass the ball around and attempt to score by driving to the hoop (no shots allowed)


basketball practice drills - 5 on 4 defenseSet Up
  • When an offensive player sees an opening he attempts to drive through the defense, and the defensive players in that area must adjust to stop the drive

Diagram 2:

  • When the pass is made to the wing, and the wing tries to drive, the two men on that side of the box close in on the wing and double team
  • The double team must force the wing to pick the ball up and pass off - but no fouls
basketball practice drills - 5 on 4 defenseTrap at Wing

Diagram 3:

  • When the pass is made to the corner, the two defenders on that side of the box close in and double team
  • The double team must ensure the baseline is cut off - otherwise this could be an easy drive for the offense


basketball practice drills - 5 on 4 defenseTrap on Baseline

Diagram 4:

  • When the pass is made to the point, the two defenders at the top of the box close in and double team
  • The double team must ensure the offensive player does not break through the trap and drive into the key - otherwise this opens up the drive, or when one of the post players helps out, opens up a pass to a layup down low


basketball practice drills - 5 on 4 defenseTrap at the Point

Continue this for a set amount of time or until the offense scores, then switch in players.


Run the drill for as long as 15 minutes, and continue to focus defensive play on stopping the drive.

This is one of the better basketball practice drills for developing the teamwork aspect of defensive play that is so important in zone defenses; it also has additional value in that it has the offense constantly on the lookout for opportunities to drive to the hoop.

A good drill for offense and defense, that will help your team play better basketball.




"If you train hard, you'll not only be hard, you'll be hard to beat."

- Herschel Walker





Looking for something more visual?

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


eBasketballDrills