Basketball players spend countless hours in the gym, working their handles and jump shot to improve their ability to score. But since you only play offense for half the game, it’s also important to put time and effort into improving defense. Today I’m going to show you three exercises that will help you become a lock-down defender.
Defense requires the physical qualities of mobility, strength and quickness. The Drop-Step Progression starts by lengthening muscles so you can get into a proper defensive stance. The next exercise is designed to build strength through a full range of motion. The last step in the progression trains quickness so you can guard even the most athletic players.
Here’s a quick overview of each exercise in the Drop-Step Progression:
It’s important to have the right amount of mobility to prevent injuries and improve performance. Instead of focusing on stretching individual muscles, work on lengthening total-body movements. The Drop-Step Stretch will give you the range of motion required to take long, powerful slides.
Now that you’ve taken your body through a full range of motion, you’re ready to build strength. We’ve all done forward lunges before. While they improve leg strength when driving to the basket, they’re not the most efficient way to improve the lateral and rotational movements we perform on defense. By doing a simple directional tweak, we can transform the traditional lunge into a Drop-Step Lunge.
Basketball players need rotational quickness just as much as lateral quickness. If your first step on defense is strictly lateral, you’ll find yourself either getting beat off the dribble or picking up blocking fouls. The Drop-Step Bound mirrors the correct defensive footwork while transforming strength into quickness.
Complete the three exercises in circuit fashion and then repeat this process two to four times:
1. Lengthen the movement with the Drop-Step Stretch
2. Strengthen the movement with the Drop-Step Lunge
(4-6 reps each side)
3. Speed up the movement with the Drop-Step Bound
(4-6 reps each side)
I recommend doing four to six repetitions of each exercise. If you do too many reps, you’ll improve your conditioning but not your quickness. By keeping your reps in a low range, you’ll increase your power and ability to guard even the toughest players.
What’s your favorite drill or exercise for improving your defense? Leave a comment below so the Hoopfest and B4B community can benefit.