UCLA Defensive Cutthroat Drill Fab 5

UCLA Defensive Cutthroat Drill Fab 5
UCLA Defensive Cutthroat Drill Diagram 1

The UCLA Defensive Cutthroat Drill features in our Fab 5 series and works players four on four in the half court. The drill initially brings players into a real life situation with pressure as the defensive players scramble to find a player and then apply team based man to man defensive principles.


The UCLA Defensive Cutthroat Drill is another Fab 5 drill for our team defence selection. So remember to revise what your teams half court man to man principles are before just mindlessly putting this drill into play at a practice. This drill can be intense and will put the screws on players who do not communicate or are newer to your team’s defensive philosophies (well it can if you choose to create the high expectations needed for a more demanding higher effort defensive outcome).


Why use this drill? It brings pressure to bear on the defensive team from the outset asking them to find players in the confusion and movement of multiple players (offensive and defensive). This promotes non-verbal (pointing to match-up, gaining vision of the ball as soon as possible and establishment of flat triangle) and verbal (communication of ball, cutters and help positioning off the ball) communication.


In building a prime environment to achieve good results we suggest a couple of focus points to start the drill with:


  • Players must use verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Players must be aware enough to either see or hear where the ball is on the court and adjust their positioning accordingly
  • Reduce the space between you and your defensive assignment by sprinting; not walking, jogging and certainly not standing still
  • Initially technique and tactical awareness is everything, stop the immediate score initially and you will then enable your team to more into half-court principles in a controlled progression of defensive phases


At Functional Basketball Coaching we love drills that simulate the real fast paced nature of the sport and add elements such as speed and application of often over drill fundamentals in controlled environments in more realistic situations.

UCLA Defensive Cutthroat Drill Diagram 1
UCLA Defensive Cutthroat Drill Diagram 1

Four defensive players start on baseline with their backs to the court.


Four offensive players line along the three point line.


Coach slaps ball to start drill. Defensive players have to close-out on offensive players.


Defensive players cannot close-out to nearest offensive players. Each defensive player must move across the direct line of another player to allow for greater difficulty.


Offensive players are allowed to cut, post-up screen to simulate any normal offensive strategy utilised.


Drill can be progressed into five on five.


Points of emphasis:

  • Offensive team must make one pass before a shot can be taken; shot can be taken from anywhere
  • Players scramble to contain offense and save quick offensive scores
  • Communication to identify place of ball
  • When closing out big strides into small stutter steps before finishing in defensive stance
  • Man to man defensive principles apply


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.

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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