Basketball Tip - Footwork
One crucial aspect of basketball that is often overlooked is footwork. Players that excel on defense typically spend countless hours on and off the court advancing their technique. Having a solid footwork foundation allows you to stay in a beneficial position on defense making it challenging for your opponent to score. Consistent practice of on-ball and off-ball movement can take your defensive game to the next level. Here are three footwork tips that are frequently taught at our Nike Basketball Camps to help set yourself apart from the competition.
Practicing your defensive slides adds an element of conditioning that will give you an edge over your opponent. For this drill, you will need an area that is similar in size to the key. Beginning as a defender at the high post on either side, you will start in an athletic stance and side shuffle to the opposite high post, then drop-step and slide to the opposite low post and side shuffle across to the other low post area. From there, the player shuffles diagonally back to the high post and repeats for a minute or as necessary. This drill will make you tired, but the more you do it, the more in-shape you will be and the better you’ll be able to stay in front of the offensive player.
The Z Drill emphasizes proper sliding technique on the defensive end. Place a marker, either a cone or basketball at the top of each key, half court line, and at all four corners on the baselines. You will start at one corner of the court in a defensive athletic stance and slide/shuffle to the marker at the top of the key. Then, pivot and continue to the half court line diagonally. Repeat this on the opposite end of the court, mimicking the “Z shape”. This drill will help you focus on staying low and having active feet while you slide to each position. Remembering these movements during a game, will help you to stay in front of your offensive opponents without causing a foul.
Close outs are absolutely vital to your game on the defensive end. An effective close out forces your opponent to take a contested shot, which significantly lowers their shot percentage. Also, a good close out puts you in great position to defend if your opponent pump fakes or decides not to shoot. For this drill, all you will need is a ball and a partner. One partner starts with the ball a few feet away from the other partner and passes the ball. Once you pass, you close the distance on your partner, while remembering to chop your steps when approaching your partner so you do not foul them. While this drill may seem basic, it is extremely important to master the art of a good close out to minimize your opponents chances of scoring.
If you can practice these three drills on a regular basis, you will see consistent improvement in your footwork on the defensive end of the floor, which will elevate your overall game to the next level. For more basketball footwork tips join us this summer at a Nike Basketball Camp near you!