The Spear the Ball Drill brings footwork, hand pressure spacing together. Individual defence for many players is something which requires constant attention and focus. For a defensive specialist nothing comes easy and very often the secret to being a good defensive player lies less in technique and more in effort, desire and concentration.
This drills kicks off our Fab 5 series focusing on drills specific to improving the defensive technique and application for the individual.
A lot of coaches never teach hand pressure or struggle to develop a consistent philosophy on how to manage this technique. Teachers have a saying “what I ignore I teach” meaning if you do not instruct a student/athlete in how you want them to act they will choose their own way of doing things. Hand pressure to some degree is instinctive so you must allow your players the opportunity to practice and make mistakes with regards to when to attempt to steal and when not to steal the ball from the offensive player.
The purpose of this drill is to establish defensive spacing to the ball, and additionally attempts to apply pressure on the offensive player with the intent of getting the ball out of the operating (shot pocket) area.
Start by have the defensive player straddle the offensive players jab step and have the defenders feet move in unison. Defenders feet are square to the sideline. Head on the high hip (direct the ball down the sideline). Offensive players on the sideline are in the left side alley. Defenders spear the ball with the left hand; right hand is the obstruction hand. Offensive players use a tight “C” with the ball and try to jab step a foot past the defence (each jab past a foot of the defence is a win for the offense.
Complete five jab steps to the left and complete five repetitions to the right. Remember the defensive player reacts when he initially sees movement anticipating the offensive player’s aggression, if the offensive player does not move the defensive player quickly closes the gap back to within an arm’s length between the defensive and offensive player.
Close out to appropriate defensive spacing, spearing the ball. Contain one dribble to dead pressure. Complete five jab steps and dribble to the left and complete five repetitions to the right. Offense starts on the lane line with the ball. In a point stance, they toss the ball underhanded to the offensive player and close out (two sprint steps to a hop). Offensive player attempts to get a jab step past a foot of the defence. Determine if the ball is in the right or left side alley. Offense jab step twice then try to beat the defence with one dribble. Defensive players contain the ball handler and once it is picked up call “Dead”.
It is important that while on the move defensive players ‘jockey’ the offensive player and maintain at least an arm bar of distance between the two players. Any closer and a foul is likely to occur and limit the ability to create ongoing and sustained pressure.
To advance the difficulty of the drill increase the allowed dribbles to two. Want more? Follow our 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.