Play Defense With Your Feet Basketball Drill
1v1 Attacking and Defending

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Objective: To teach players to play defense by moving their body instead of using their hands. This basketball drill is based on a comment I saw on TV by the great coach Bobby Knight who said "Play defense with your feet, not your hands." It teaches 1v1 Attacking and Defending and can be played as a game where score is kept.

Can Be a Game: This basketball drill can be played as a game to create competition and pressure. Keeping score will make it more game-realistic and teach players to play fast while under pressure.

The Game:

  1. Pair Up Players. If you are short a player, you play or recruit a parent or a friend.

  2. Each pair will compete against each other.

  3. One player in each pair has a ball and is the "Attacker" and the Other Player is the Defender.

  4. Use cones, cone disks or some sort of markers to create "Playing Boxes" about 10 steps long by 4 steps wide for each pair (if you have 5 pairs of players, you will need 5 of these 10 steps long by 4 steps wide Playing Boxes). If you practice in a gym, one of the lines can serve as one of the lines for these areas. When I say "Steps" I mean steps that are about the length of your players steps. If your players are 8 years old the Steps will be shorter than if they are 12 years old.

  5. Put the Attacker with the ball on one end of a Playing Box (on the line that is 4 steps wide) and the Defender facing the Attacker on the other end of a Playing Box that is 4 steps wide.

  6. RULE FOR THE DEFENDERS - So defenders cannot use their hands, and to force them to position their bodies, the Defenders must hold onto the fabric of the bottom of their jerseys. That should allow them to still be balanced without using their hands. If the Defender lets go of his or her jersey, then he loses that game and the Attacker gets one point.

  7. On "Go" (or a whistle) both players run toward the other player. The Attacker's objective is to get past the Defender by crossing the line. The Defender's objective is to "Slow down" the Attacker or to steal the ball or to poke it away. One of the Defender's objectives is to slow down the attack to prevent a fast break.

  8. After 10 seconds yell "Stop" or blow the whistle to stop the game and tell all players to stop where they are.

Play 3 Times and Then Switch: remember, the purpose of this game is to teach. So, I recommend starting by pairing up players of similar ability. Play once and give Tips, and then play it again so the Attacker and Defender both have a chance to put into practice what they learned from your coaching Tips. I recommend playing it 3 times before switching so the Attacker becomes the Defender, and then playing it 3 more times. After that, if you want to play it more, re-assign the Teams based on the Scores so the players are playing someone different.

Here's how the scoring works:

Summary of Scoring: The Attacker gets 2 points IF he or she can get across the Finish Line with the ball under control within 10 seconds before the Coach yells "Stop" (a definition of "having control of the ball" would be that that the Attacker can control the ball within a step past the line - he can't just throw the ball). The Attacker gets one point IF the Defender lets go of his or her jersey. The Defender gets 1 point for stalling the attack - If the Attacker isn't able to cross the Line within 10 seconds, OR if the Attacker steps outside the Playing Box (across either sideline), or loses the ball outside of the Playing Box, OR if the Defender is able to poke the ball away so it goes outside the Playing Box. If the Defender steals the ball, then the Defender gets 2 points.

Details of Scoring:

How the Defender Scores: The Defender gets one point if:

  1. He can keep the Attacker from crossing the Line with the ball under control for 10 seconds.

  2. OR if the Defender is able to poke the ball away so it goes out of the Playing Box.

  3. OR if the Attacker steps out of the Playing Box (across either sideline).

The Defender gets 2 points if he is able to steal the ball within the 10 seconds before the Coach yells "Stop" or blows the whistle.

How the Attacker Scores:

  1. The Attacker gets 2 points IF he or she can get across the Finish Line with the ball under control within 10 seconds before the Coach yells "Stop" or blows the whistle (a definition of "having control of the ball" would be that that the Attacker can control the ball within a step past the line - he can't just throw the ball)

  2. The Attacker gets one point IF the Defender lets go of his or her jersey.

Tips: Obviously, the faster the Defender can close the space, the better, because that will cause the Attacker to have a longer distance to reach the Finish Line while under defensive pressure. However, the Defender must watch the Attacker carefully and slow as soon as he or she gets close to the Attacker so he doesn't run into the Attacker, which would be a foul. The same idea applies to the Attacker - the faster he can come off his line and move toward the Finish Line, the better, but he can't charge into the Defender in a way that would draw a charging foul.