Closeout – 1 on 1

Closeouts are extremely important in today’s game of basketball because many of the forwards and centers are able to shoot from outside and the defenders must know how to effectively stop the dribble drive to the basket and put a hand up to contest the shot. This drill helps young athletes practice the closeout while engaging in some scrimmage play, either one-on-one or two-on-two games. These young athletes are able to learn how to properly closeout their offensive player and also practice their offensive awareness skills.

A closeout is defined as a movement made by a defensive player in order to lessen the gap between themselves and a offensive player around the perimeter to contest a shot, deflect a pass inside, or slow down the offensive player from driving to the basket. Closeouts are essential to great team defense as they slow down the offense from scoring or making an easy entry pass to the big man down low. With that said, it is an important concept to learn because closeouts happen very frequently on defense with almost every possession played.

In order to properly execute a closeout, there are a few things that the coach might want to emphasize:

  • Ensure the defensive players are in an athletic stance – hips back, knees bent – defensive players must be ready to sprint to the ball
  • As the defensive players approach the man with the ball, teach them to take choppy steps or use a quick stop to slow momentum and stop the dribble drive to the basket
    • If the defensive player is running full-speed past the offense, that is advantageous to the offensive player as they have an open lane to the basket
  • Ensure the defensive player has their hands up in order to contest the shot or make an entry pass down low

This drill allows young athletes to understand what it means to closeout during a game and how to defend the offensive player trying to make a move to the basket. Having the ability to practice closeouts while turning into a scrimmage game with some teammates is a great way to master the skill.

DESCRIPTION Make two lines – one line standing at the elbow of the key and the other line on the baseline, facing the other line. The line on the baseline starts with the ball, passing it to the player first in line at the elbow. Once the pass has been made, the individual that passed the ball, continues to defend the player with the ball, initiating the defense with a proper closeout.

Once the closeout has been made, the two individuals will continue to play one-on-one until the defense secures the rebound. When the defense secures the rebound, the next player in line passes the ball to the player at the elbow and repeats the drill.

SKILL FOCUS Defensive stance, speed, rebounds, layups, coordination, balance
AGE (STAGE) 6+ (FUNdamentals Stage) 9+ (Learn-to-train Stage)
PLAYERS 2+
EQUIPMENT 1 basketball needed
VARIATION: Closeout Drill If the team has enough players, coaches can add another line on the other elbow of the key and a line across on the baseline. For this variation, the player on the baseline can pass to either player on the elbows, and both players on the baseline closeout their man directly in front of them. Once the closeouts are complete, the players will play 2-on-2 until the defense secures the rebound.
Key Teaching Points Encourage the defender to have their knees bent, hands up, and feet stuttering in order to complete a proper closeout

Encourage the defensive player to sprint to the ball, but also take choppy steps when getting closer to the offensive player to stop the dribble drive to the basket

Ensure the offensive player is keeping their head up when driving to the basket

Enjoy the video below with NBA legend Dominique Wilkins demonstrating how to properly engage in a closeout and some one-on-one defense techniques.

 

Please let me know if you have any good tips on closeout and defensive techniques. Post your thoughts, comments, and opinions below. Love to hear your thoughts!

 

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