Easy Basketball Drills
Learning Man to Man Defense

These are easy basketball drills to help players learn how to play man to man defense. Once you have introduced the important aspects of man to man, use these drills to help cement proper movement and positioning - and as an added bonus, these drills also have a fair bit of conditioning built in.

The major hurdle players face when playing man to man defense is staying low in their stance - it is natural for then to want to stand up after a few seconds, especially when they are moving in different directions. Proper defensive stance hurts - your legs get tight and cramped and it doesn't take long to decide that his is uncomfortable.

One of the main reasons for doing these drills is to get players' legs used to feeling this way, so they can last in defensive stance longer. So you will find yourself yelling at them frequently to "keep your butts down" and to stay in their stance.

The other thing to remind players is that when moving on defense, they should slide their feet sideways, using quick, short steps, without crossing their feet. Don't hop.

Easy Basketball Drills for Defense
Defensive Slides on the Lines

Practice Drill: Slides on the Lines

  • Players line up at one corner, one behind the next

  • At the first whistle, the first player in line begins to slide along the baseline in proper defensive stance

    Players must remain low, in proper defensive stance, throughout the drill

  • Players follow the baseline to the key, slide around the key, along the baseline and down the sideline to the half.
  • At the half they pivot and slide along the half, and then pivot again to slide down the sideline to the opposite end. They then repeat this pattern - baseline, key, sideline, half, sideline - until they return to the corner they started from

Note: when the players are sliding up and down the key, they should be sliding in the "swordsman's stance" - feet in a T position, one hand raised ahead of them - as if they are approaching and then backing away from their opponent who is about to shoot

Run this practice drill 2-3 times in a row, with players being able to rest in between while they wait for their turn

Easy Basketball Drills for Defense
Defensive Slide on the Whistle

  • Players scatter around half court area, with space between them and the players on either side of them.
  • At the first whistle, everyone gets in proper defensive stance.

  • At the next whistle, players slide in the direction the coach points - left, right, forward, or behind - with the coach switching directions every couple of seconds.

    Players must stay low - they cannot rise and fall as they move, but must stay in proper defensive stance.

Run this practice drill for 30 seconds to 1 minute, 3 times with a 15 second break in between.

Easy Basketball Drills for Defense
Stutter Step

I've heard this drill called "Foot Fire" as well, but it's all the same.

  • Players spread out, as in the slides drill.

  • Players are in good defensive stance position.

  • On the whistle, all players start the "stutter-step", rapidly moving their feet up and down on the balls of their feet. They must remain low, in good defensive stance throughout.

  • After about 5 seconds, the coach blows the whistle again and the players execute a quick one-quarter turn to the left, returning to face front and resuming the stutter step.

  • At the next whistle, they make a one-quarter turn to the right.

  • At the next whistle, players jab one step forward, raising one hand as if defending against a shot

  • At the fourth whistle, players drop for a push-up

  • Then you repeat all again - one-quarter turn left, one-quarter turn right, jab forward, push up

Run this practice drill for 45 seconds to 1 minute, 3 times with a 15 second break in between.

These are great, easy basketball drills to run that will really help players get used to the movement and stance of proper man to man defense. As this is the first defense we teach at the beginning of the pre-preseason, and so these drills are some of the first drills we run, it is good that they also serve as conditioning drills, and help players quickly get use to the heavy physical demands that basketball requires.

"Losers quit when they are tired; winners quit when they've won."

Looking for something more visual?

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