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Mike Fratello shares defensive drills

Book showcases techniques and tactics from basketball’s elite

Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino attest to the benefits college basketball coaches glean from the pro level. Now college and high school coaches can get advice from top NBA coaches in the NBA Coaches Association’s, NBA Coaches Playbook.

In the book, legendary coach and television sports commentator Mike Fratello offers defensive drills for pressuring the ball:

Six players line up on the baseline; the coach has the ball on the wing. At the call of the coach, the six players run onto the court. The first player is on offense, the second on defense, and so on; the three pairs set up on the two wings and in the middle of the court. The coach passes the ball to one of the offensive players, who can go to the basket with only two dribbles or pass the ball to one of the teammates. The drill ends only with a score or if the defense recovers the ball. If the offense makes more than two dribbles, the ball goes to the defense, and the defense goes on offense.


A coach has the ball in the middle of the court. Two offensive players are set up at the wing positions, and a defender is in the middle of the three-second lane. The coach passes the ball to one of the offensive players, who drives to the baseline. The defender closes out, slides, and cuts off the path to the baseline, hitting the dribbler with his chest (not pushing him with his hands). At this time, the offensive player passes the ball back to the coach, who reverses the ball to the other offensive player, who drives to the baseline. The defender must recover, close
out, and cut off the path to the baseline, while the offensive player can only drive, not shoot.

Two-on-Two Help-and-Recover
The ball is in the wing area or at the top of the lane in the hands of 1, while 2 is on the opposite wing. X1 covers 1; X2 helps and recovers on the baseline. Then 1 drives to the baseline or into the lane. As soon as 1 drives, 2 slides to the corner to receive the pass. X1 and X2 must communicate and not let the ball go to the baseline.

This is adapted from NBA Coaches Playbook, edited by Giorgio Gandolfi.

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