Drill sergeant is a classic basketball camp/clinic drill.  It’s not a bad one, but the way it’s typically done is missing out on a huge opportunity to get kids better at defense! Drill Sergeant

Usually, it’s all about working hard and getting kids tired. While conditioning is an important aspect of basketball performance, we can increase the value of basketball drill sergeant by focusing on technique instead – ensuring we are teaching, emphasizing, and practicing proper technique.  Don’t worry you can still make the drill sergeant fun and high energy, Here’s what I recommend you focus on and a suggested order for tackling each item:

10 Tips for More Functional Basketball Drill Sergeants

  1. Defensive Stance:  Focus on ensuring athletes are “triple flexed” – loaded at the ankles, knees, and hips.  Ensure they understand that there is an optimal height.  There is such a thing as too low where the joint angles are not optimal for lateral push-off! 
  2. Lateral Shuffle:  Focus on pushing with the back leg and staying “in the tunnel”. Progress from moving in either direction to stopping with control to changing direction efficiently. 
  3. Lateral Run:  Teach them the technique using the simple acronym “POP” – Push with the back leg, Open the front leg, and Push with the front leg.  Teach them to keep their upper body parallel to the play while their lower body is in a run pattern. Teach them the same concepts and progressions as per the shuffle:  Stay in the tunnel, and progress form move in one direction, stop, then change direction.  
  4. Hip Turn:  Instead of just jumping up and turning their whole body focus on disassociating upper from lower body – keeping torso parallel to the play. 
  5. Hip Turn into movement:  Progress the hip turn by moving into various movements such as lateral shuffle and lateral run.  Let them feel the difference between hip turning versus pivoting. 
  6. Acceleration:  Teach the athletes to accelerate forward out of a defensive stance – DON’T teach them to NOT take “negative” steps.  They will naturally take a “plyo” step which will be the fastest way for them to get going from a parallel stance! 
  7. Close-out:  Teach them to close out the right way for the modern game of basketball – NOT with choppy feet and 2 hands up, but with a sprint into an off-set plant and 1 hand up.  Progress closeouts by transitioning right into a lateral shuffle or lateral run
  8. Back-peddle:  Teach them to back-paddle LOW NOT Tall, with short choppy steps/hands. Progress them to changing direction out of the back-peddle.
  9. Transitions between ball-1 pass-help.  Work on more game-like transitions between ball, 1 pass away and help. 
  10. Game scenarios:  Combine all of the above movement patterns into game-like scenarios.  For emphasis on technique and speed keep the intervals short with longer rest.  For conditioning, increase the work and decrease the rest. 

It’s easy to run a drill sergeant and get kids tired, but it’s better to help them get better! Change how you run your drill sergeant and you’ll see a huge change in how well your athletes can play defense!