Intercept Drill; Building Anticipation in your Defenders

Building defensive awareness in your players is a fantastic skill to develop and the Intercept Drill can help your team do just that. Defensive awareness is a skill that focuses on looking at what the offensive team is doing and anticipating their next move to create an opportunity and seize the moment. Defensive players who demonstrate defensive awareness can make something happen. These players are the ones substituted into games during moments when failure means losing it all.


To improve defensive awareness players need to be given opportunities to develop their ability to read the offense. For this reason the intercept drill will be a valuable addition to your coaching drill bank. The intercept drill asks the defensive players to watch the dribbler and read the players movements and body language to attempt a steal on the pass to another offensive player.


The defensive players within the intercept drill need to become comfortable with making the following reads:


  • Where the dribbler’s hips are facing is where the player will be moving to; watching a player’s hip will tell you where they intend on going
  • Watching the dribblers eyes will help you to identify who the pass is likely to made to; players very rarely pass to a target they do not have eye contact with. For this reason watching the offensive player’s eyes will result in a narrowing of the likely offensive targets that the ball will be passed to.
  • Reacting on the flight of the ball; the performance of this reaction will become more and more pronounced the more it is practiced. Defensive players who practice the intercept drill regularly will be able to move quicker and reduce their reaction time allowing for more time to create the intercept opportunity.
  • Catching the ball is not the only option; it is an obvious point that is rarely discussed. An intercept can come from a deflection just as much as a catch. A pass that hits a defensive players forearm or elbow can still result in the steal, the important point is to move something into the direct passing lane between the offensive players to stop the pass.


The intercept drill is a defensive drill so the fundamental of defensive stance and movement still apply and should be demanded from players. Being in a ready stance (low wide defensive stance), with good vision (eyes always active) of the ball and carrying hands will greatly increase the chances of the defensive player in being able to stop the pass or at least demand a better pass from the offense.

Intercept Drill Diagram 1
Intercept Drill Diagram 1

Two defensive players start at the top of the key spaced evenly apart (width of the backboard).


Three offensive players start in line with the foul line (One in the centre on the split line, other two players on the wings)


The drill starts with one guard at half-court. The guard brings the ball down from half-court and passes to any one of the three offensive players (Four, Two and Three).


The dribbler continues to dribble from one side of the floor to the other until a pass can be made.


The defensive players (One and Two) try to anticipate the pass and intercept the ball. The defensive players can slide parallel to the foul line. By doing this the pass will always have be executed through the line of defenders before reaching the offensive target.


Defensive players display the follow technique:

  • Low defensive stance
  • When sliding do not come out of the stance and maintain low positioning
  • Carry hands on all movement
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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.

1 Comment on “Intercept Drill; Building Anticipation in your Defenders

  1. Great drill & thanks. The young & eager players think the “ball is everything.” So they go for it! Foul!!
    Most deflections – MOST – will end up in the hands of the defence. If players deny…contain… that’s usually
    enough, especially in a trapping situation.

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