Denial to the Wings Drill Fab 5

The Denial to Wings Drill has made it into the Fab 5 as it focuses on off the ball defending. Defending off the ball is as much a part of the team’s success as being able to contain the ball. However this important aspect of defending one pass away from the ball handler is often overlooked in comparison to the on ball and the split line defender.


In defence the ability to create pressure in a range of different phases of game play is very important. If your team is able to create this atmosphere of pressure they will be able to play even in their own defensive third and have opposition teams will not be able to execute or control their tempo.


The important aspects of the Denial to the Wings Drill are:


  • Players must maintain a low centre of gravity; this will help with rapid changes in direction and also allow for when the opportunity presents itself for them to deflect or steal the ball when the pass is made
  • Good vision of the both the ball and their offensive responsibility is the key; if they have vision they are better able to make the right decision in choosing to attempt to intercept the pass or to leave and engage the receiver instantaneously
  • If their offensive player does receive the pass the defender must utilise the “Spear the Ball Drill” principles
  • The player guarding the off the ball defender must sprint to the help position in front of the basket once the pass is initiated
  • Any time the split line defender is needed to assist in a help defence situation the player must carry hands on close-out situation to make the pass across the key more difficult to execute
Denial to the Wings Drill Diagram 1
Denial to the Wings Drill Diagram 1

Coach starts with ball.


Offensive players One (1) and Two (2) attempt to get free by using a v-cut. Players should use arm slash and change of pace and direction to try to get free.


Defenders One (1) and Two (2) try to deny the pass by being in a “closed stance” and “having a handing the passing lane”




On backdoor cuts the defenders should use the “snap the head” technique.


Point of Note:


As your players become more and more defensively aware when using the Denial to the Wings Drill you can start to allow them to use their judgement to deflect or even steal on the flight of the ball from the coach to the offensive player.

Denial to the Wings Drill Diagram 2
Denial to the Wings Drill Diagram 2

Once pass is made weak side defender moves into help position.


On ball defender must push the offensive player’s movement towards the base line.


Situation becomes 2 v 2.


The split line defender must maintain vision of both their defensive assignment and the ball handler in order to provide effective support.


Want more? Follow the series development as well look at drills developing individual (technical) and team (tactical) drill for teaching and instructing in defensive principles.


The Fab 5 Drills Series is a grouping of drills selected to underpin basic skill instruction for the use by coaches at all levels featuring technical and tactical elements from both offensive and defensive situations.



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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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