Drill: Zig-Zags

This drill is designed to improve and develop defensive slides as well as working on the drop step when changing the offensive player’s direction.

Footwork is very important in a number of sports, including basketball. Being able to stay in front of your defender is crucial to the game in order to not allow an easy layup or open shot for the opposing team. This involves being able to slide, while not crossing your feet, keeping your hands up, and making your opponent frequently change direction when dribbling – end goal, make the offensive player pick up the ball and have to make a pass.

This drill is great to practice these defensive movements as well as incorporating the drop step into the slides. At the beginning of the drill, the use of a guided offensive player is good to practice the motions; however, as the players get more comfortable with the defensive slides, the amount of pressure applied by the offensive player, the 1-on-1 play, and different variations to increase the difficulty of the drill can be incorporated.

Please feel free to take a look at this demonstration of the “Zig-Zag” drill performed by a high school basketball team as coach Shane Wyandt shows the many variations of the drill.

DESCRIPTION Partner up players and assign one basketball per pair. Outline the boundaries with cones in a zig-zag pattern using the length of the court. Start players at the baseline, one pair goes at a time. One partner is offense and the other is defense. The offensive player will be dribbling the ball in the zig-zag pattern, as a “guided offender;” practicing cross-overs at each cone. The defensive player will be practicing defensive slides and drop steps. At the end of the court, players switch roles and go back the other way.
SKILL FOCUS Defense, footwork
AGE (STAGE) 6+ (FUNdamentals Stage) 9+ (Learn-to-train Stage)
PLAYERS 2+
EQUIPMENT  1 basketball per group
VARIATION: Zig-Zags Defensive player guides the offensive player through change of directions after two or three dribbles

Allow the offensive player to make the decision of changing directions; however, not beating the defender

Once comfortable with the movement, have players play 1-on-1 when they get to half court

Vary pressure allowed by the offensive player

Limit areas of the court that the offensive player is allowed to use (i.e. only using the left side of the floor)

Key Teaching Points Ensure the offensive player is staying low to the ground and quickly changing direction with a variety of crossovers

Make sure defensive player is sliding while not crossing their feet

Ensure the drop step is being used when the defender is making the offensive player change directions

Ensure the defender is in proper “defensive stance” (knees bent, hands up, etc.) while engaging in the drill

Please feel free to comment your thoughts and opinions of this drill below!

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