The Mass Defensive Drill is one of the staples of a basketball coach’s drill book. Exceptionally easily to implement, provides a high rate of repetitions and can be used for a variety of reasons. A fantastic activity for junior players the Mass Defensive Drill helps each player to gain maximum opportunity to practice their technique. For older athletes the Mass Defensive Drill can be used as a way of drawing attention to an issue within a team’s play. The repetitive nature of the drill as well as the focus on technique quickly highlights in a senior player’s mind what the coach wants.
The Mass Defensive Drill can be set up with any number of players, but it does to help with spacing to have players put themselves into lines. No more than four players to a line as in the diagram below or players will find they might run into one another when performing certain skills.
The coach starts with a basketball to assist in providing some of the cues needed for certain player responses.
The coach stands out front of the group of players. If dealing with a larger group then it may be beneficial for the coach to stand on the sideline at halfway so players have a better view point then if they are under the basket as in the diagrammed above.
Initially the coach will need to explain the various verbal and visual cues to be utilised throughout the Mass Defensive Drill.
On a slap of the ball, the players start to pitter-patter and wait for the next instruction.
Some of the various activities which can be incorporated into the drill include:
- Defensive slides
- Close out
- Contesting shot into box-out
- Dead Ball; offensive player has picked the ball up after dribbling
Example: When coach dribbles players slide with ball and call “ball”.
Example: When coach picks ball up players close out and mirror movement of the ball, and call “dead”.
Example: When coach shot fakes players call “shot” and close out.
Points of Emphasis
The Mass Defensive Drill looks to refine the fundamental individual defensive skills. With this in mind there are a few common points to focus on with players to ensure they get the most out of the activity:
Hand position; depending on the activity, it is vital that the player maintain good hand pressure and mirror the ball during all defensive skills.
Maintain low stance: players will often bob jump and down when sliding. So this is an area to pay special attention to encourage players to maintain a low and wide stance
Verbal Communication; players can be required to use a verbal cue when performing some activities like closing out or boxing out. These verbal calls can be incorporated into the Mass Defensive Drill
The Mass Defensive Drill looks to bring together some of the more basic fundamental skills in a situation where a coach can view all players easily while still running each individual through the various techniques. The drill however is very controlled and will only have a limited life within the team’s regular activities before becoming boring and stale for the players to endure. Like all drills, there needs to be a progression followed which builds upon the skills within one drill to another. Once players are competent in performing these skills, competitive or pressure situations need to be introduced so players can then learn to use these skills in game situations.