Defensive Reaction Drill

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As coaches, we must find better way to utilize our practice time. Just about everything we do has to have multiple purposes so we have the maximum amount of time to teach and prepare our players to be the best they can be.

Gone, I believe, are the days we can take 15 - 20 minutes out for practice to condition our players. Suicides, 17s, sprints, etc. are of limited effectiveness anyway, I think, but to use skill or team time to do them is a miss placed priority.

Defensive Reaction is a drill that conditions, reinforces defensive footwork, builds intensity and only takes a few minutes.

 Start with team divided into as many lines as necessary to go 3 deep (12 players – 4 lines – 3 players in each line)  
 On the whistle, the first players in line sprint to mid-court and stutter-step.  
 Coach points in a direction and players defensive slide diagonally back in the direction the coach points  
 Coach points in other direction, players slide appropriately  
Players slide to the baseline, as soon as they touch the baseline, players sprint to foul line and stutter-step.

Coach points in a direction and players defensive slide laterally in that direction

Coach points in other direction, players slide appropriately.


On the whistle, first group of players sprint to the opposite end of the court and touch the rim 10 Xs. At the same time, second group of players sprint from the baseline to mid-court to begin their rotation.

Start with 2 direction changes, then go to 4 on the second rotation, 6 on the 3rd rotation and 8 on the 4th.

Inside the 5 minutes it takes to run this drill, you have been able to practice your diagonal defensive slide, lateral defensive slides, sprints, reactions, jumping and conditioning.

Because the drill only takes a couple of minutes, intensity remains high and because the players are practicing a skill they know will make them better, their willingness to complete the drill is not an issue.

Don Kelbick

Coach Don Kelbick has had 27 years of coaching experience, 25 at the college level including 14 years as a head coach and 10 years as a Division I assistant including stops at Hofstra University, Marist College, Keene State College, and Florida International University. In 2 years as a high school coach, his teams produced 6 Division I players and was ranked #1 in Florida 28 out of a possible 34 weeks. In addition to coaching he has scouted for NBA teams, including the Knicks and the Hawks, and served as a general manager in the USBL.
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