One of my favorite off-season activities is to visit and talk shop with other coaches. I've learned a lot over the years from having conversations with college, high school, and youth coaches. Sometimes these conversations have a specific topic on the agenda, while other times we have a random dialog that leads us into several topics. Either way, I get a chance to learn.
Many times these conversations will turn to X's and O's. I would bet that most, if not all, coaches spend part of their off-season diagramming plays in notebooks, on scraps of paper, and napkins when ideas strike. I was having one of these in-depth X and O discussions with another coach when they made the following statement:
"The better you are at one-on-one defense, the less your teammates have to help you. This keeps your defense balanced. This makes your team tougher to score against."
I realize that this statement is not groundbreaking by any means. But at that moment it was very powerful to me and it simplified things for me ever since. At that time I had been a head coach for ten years, but this simple statement made our teams better defensive teams from that point on. Simple but powerful!
Coaching points to remember when practicing defending the ball:
1. Practice defending the ball every practice.
2. Each day choose different spots to start defending the ball.
*top of the key
*mid lane line
3. Limit the number of dribbles an offensive player can make (2 or 3 depending on starting point).
4. Start each rep with a closeout.
5. Make the drills competitive.
*Consequence (run) for giving up dribble penetration to an area you don't want the ball to go.