Not only is defense a movement skill but past that it is also a reaction and anticipation skill. Having explosive movements does little good if they don’t know when to use it.
Once proper footwork has been trained, we like to add a live stimulus as often and as early as we can into our agility training. The Mirror drill is by far the simplest version and the most helpful to developing individual defense.
This is a great drill to use without a ball as well. The scoring is competitive too: every time the offensive player gets outside the hips of the defender the offense gets 1 point. Keep track for 20 or 30 seconds and switch offense/defense.
Starting without the ball is also great for players - it allows them to natural find a successful vision pattern for reacting and anticipating movement. In fact, many times we will see worst performance when we add the ball later. This is also an astounding result because it should be harder for the defense without the ball: the offense has no restriction on their movement. When the ball is add, the offense is limited by their ball handling ability. And yet, some defenders perform worst, how can this be?
The ball is a distraction. These players begin to focus too much on the ball and it can really fake them out. Whereas without the ball their eyes locked in on the opponents hips and shoulders. These defenders usually just need a reminder and prompt about why their performance has been disrupted. The ball is a distraction.
Lastly, it builds the correct square principles we want to instill later when training on-ball defense. They are learning to move laterally, square and constantly ready to move and change. Perhaps they will even get to the level of anticipation. Then we are working with something truly special.
See you next time!