You can tell it’s championship level defense when all players are bought in, trusting each other, and playing with all they have. At the beginning of the season, your players haven’t spent enough time together to really understand their roles in a live-game environment. How do they react to a pick and roll? What happens on help side when an offensive player drives past a defender? What can you expect when switching off a screen at the top of the key? The actions and roles played need to be predictable and consistent in order for players to trust each other on defense. By mid-season, you should start to see defenses playing as a cohesive unit. If players are trusting each other, then they’ll want to put in maximum effort so as not to let each other down. At this point, they can begin to play championship level defense.

But you can’t get to championship level defense without the tools and practice required in the gym; both in pre-season, and adjustments made throughout the season. A coach needs to have an understanding of what’s working, and what’s not working. Only then can you target those opportunities through drills aimed at minimizing weaknesses in a defense. Fortunately, Hustle, the mobile app for coaches and players, has a number of great drills to help get your team to championship level.

Shutdown Defender - In this practice plan from Coach Jeff Sparrow, he’ll walk you through a series of drills to make any player into a disruptive defender. Sparrow’s intensity comes through in his drills, and shows players how to maintain that intensity as he teaches you drills like stationary jab & switch, mobile jab & switch, push steps, and lateral jumps. He’ll also teach you his Scrambled Eggs drill and 2 Person Scramble. Sparrow’s dedication to Championship Level Defense is something that any coach should strive for.

Defensive Traps - When the clock is running down, and you need to get a stop, the trap is a great option. It also works well when you catch offensive players off guard coming out of a stoppage in play. This drill shows you how to execute flawlessly by cutting off the offensive player’s path forward and forcing them to spin, leaving them vulnerable to a steal.

Fullcourt Zig Zag - In order to play Championship Level Defense, you have to have solid fundamentals. With the full court zig zag drill on the Hustle app, you’ll learn the right way to move feet on defense to stay in front of an offensive player as they attempt to move the ball up the court. Though this is an easy drill, the intensity that you bring makes a big difference in your results.

As we discussed, Championship Level Defense is what separates top teams from the rest, especially during the 2nd half of the season. With the right focus, intensity, and know-how, you’ll help take your team all the way.