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Stealing Second Base - Closeout Drill

Basketball drills come in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes the most effective ones are those that draw inspiration from other sports. Today, we're introducing a unique drill that combines elements of basketball and baseball, aiming to sharpen defensive anticipation and improve closeout speed/technique.

The drill involves setting up three stationary offensive players (we can add some dribble drives later) in predetermined positions, like a shell drill. Around each offensive player, you'll tape down large squares that act as baseball bases. The objective for the defender is to execute a closeout and arrive on the catch before the ball gets to base. They must beat the ball and get to base safe, simulating a base runner in baseball.

One of the key skills honed in this drill is anticipation and reaction. Defenders must constantly read the offensive player's movements and anticipate the pass, aiming to arrive at the base simultaneously or before the catch. Anticipation allows defenders to be a step ahead, disrupting the offense's rhythm and potentially forcing turnovers. Defenders can also not afford to take breaks or relax off the ball in this drill, they must be constantly focused and locked in ready to move in a split seconds notice.

The drill also emphasizes the speed and agility required in executing closeouts. Defenders must explode out of their defensive stance, sprinting towards the offensive player as soon as the pass is made. Quick and efficient closeouts not only prevent open shots but also apply pressure and limit the offensive player's options, forcing them into unfavorable decisions. By arriving on the catch, we discard the age-old closeout footwork debate and instead go straight into on-ball defense.

Basic Drill Rules and Concepts:

  • Defensive team tries to last for as many passes as possible without getting 3 outs

  • Closeouts without an early hand do not count

  • We can add offensive gap drives as drill progresses

  • If offense is pinging the ball around, defense needs to do a better job tracing and disrupting the ball - this will also improve the off-ball defender's ability to read and anticipate the ball handler's intentions to pass

By infusing basketball with elements from America's favorite pastime, this drill offers a fresh perspective on defensive training. Through anticipation, speed in closeouts, and reaction time, defenders can enhance their defensive instincts, decision-making, and overall performance on the court.

This drill was taken from the Closeout Clinic available at , with over 37 minutes of closeout footwork, techniques, concepts and drills. You can also check out my YouTube video, 5 Keys to Defensive Closeouts ( ).

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