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I Hate the Zig Zag Drill

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

The Zig Zag drill is one of my least favorite drills. And let me make sure I’m clear, the zig zag drill I am referring to is the controlled slide to one spot, open to next spot, slide to spot and so forth. The drill is suppose to be simple, a conditioner and a training tool for good defensive footwork. And I have to agree with two of those points, but not the most important one.

Yes, the drill is simple. I often like to start with simple drills myself to simplify instruction and athlete focus. The Zig Zag drill is also a conditioner. But then again, many drills can fall into that category, why use this one?

Most important is the fact that this drill is teaching detrimental footwork. It is instill poor habits and unrealistic movement. The moment you are touch sliding at a heavy angle, you’re in trouble. Then you add the dropping the hips component when the defender has to open up to slide to the next spot. This is a recipe for getting torched by an offensive player.

Watch successful 1v1 full court clips and you see defenders staying square popping back, using crossover steps to cover more ground and turning to sprint. If they touch slide, it is at the slightest of angles and quickly getting back to square hips. Never will you see angled slides or defensive drop steps which the zig zag drill practices.

Some coaches hate the three man weave because it has no game application to basketball, I feel the exact same way about the zig zag drill. In fact, I think it’s even worse because it’s not just a time waster, it’s a tool to instill the wrong technique.

I do believe in playing 1v1 full court and even doing some variations - but the classic zig zag drill will never be in my repertoire. If you want to see the drills I use, check out

See you next time.

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