Workout of the Week: Pivot and Protect

This week’s workout incorporates both defensive and offensive fundamentals and principles. It is a very challenging drill that will get your players ready to perform against physical play.

Line up as many players as you want on defense around the three point line. These players will act as the offensive players. Then assign a player to defend each player on the perimeter.

In this drill the offensive players have no dribble. They are facing the basket and they have to pivot and protect the ball from the defender, who is trying to take the ball from them.

A major coaching point for the offensive players is to make sure their eyes stay on the rim as much as possible. As an offensive player you don’t ever want to turn your back from the defensive player. This gives the defensive player an advantage over your space. Instead, as an offensive player, you want to step into your defender, preferably between his legs. Doing this creates space for you to face and see what is going on.

Offensive players should also concentrate on keeping the ball in their shooting pocket unless they are aggressively ripping the ball through to avoid the defensive contact. This ripping through motion needs to occur beneath the defensive player’s line of contact. Offensive players should focus on ripping through with their elbows out and their heads up.

In order to have their eyes up so they can see the court, offensive players need to be in a great stance. They shouldn’t be slunched over with their backs parallel to the ground. Rather, they need to keep their butts down and their backs straight. This is not only a necessary stance on defense but on offense as well.

This low and wide stance makes it easier for the offensive players to not only pivot and protect the basketball, but also to prevent them from being bullied over by the defensive players. The lower they are to the ground the stronger they will be. The taller they are, the weaker they become.

The defensive players’ jobs are to pressure the heck out of the ball. I encourage the defense to utilize small fouls here in order to force the offensive players to learn how to play through contact. It is important that you don’t allow the defenders to smack and reach continuously because this will only build bad defensive habits. Rather, encourage them to use their hips and grab the ball with both hands if an opportunity presents itself.

This is a great defensive drill as well because players should learn how to trace the basketball and put extreme pressure on the offensive player. The offensive player can’t move so their is no excuse for the defensive player to get into the offensive player’s area.

I normally do this drill for 30 seconds to a minute with my players when I want to mix in some cardio training. 15 seconds is normally good time to start with this drill to ensure your players do it properly the entire time. As they get more accustomed to it you can add more time.


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