3 Best Defensive AGILITY DRILLS for Basketball Players

This is a follow up to the 3 Best Change of Direction Drills for Basketball post I made last week. If you’ve been reading the blog recently, you know that agility is the next progression after building a base with change of direction drills. Agility is simply a change of direction drill with a reaction component. And that’s what I’ll be sharing today – The 3 Best Defensive AGILITY Drills for Basketball Players.

The 3 Best Defensive Agility Drills Basketball Players Are:

  1. Lateral Shuffle w/ Reaction
  2. Mirror Drill
  3. Ascending Lateral Shuffles w/ Reaction

Below I’m going to go deep into WHY each drill is great for hoopers and HOW to perform them.

Before I do that, you should know that there are two types of stimulus an athlete can respond to an agility drills. The first is visual. A visual stimulus can be a coach pointing, another athlete, or something else like a ball dropping. The second kind of stimulus is auditory. An example of this is a coach shouting a command.

For the sake of these drills, you’ll be responding to visual stimulus that gets more and more challenging as you progress through them.

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The 3 Best Defensive Agility Drills for Basketball Players (Put The Clamps on Your Competition)

1. Lateral Shuffle w/ Reaction

In my 3 Best Change of Direction Drills for Basketball post , one of the drills was a lateral shuffle shuttle. If you implemented this drill, you should have a good base of hip abduction/adduction and acceleration/deceleration mechanics. You’ll have no problem here.

If you HAVEN’T started with that drill, I recommend doing it for a month before trying this, or any drill on this list.

The lateral shuffle w/ reaction is the next step in the lateral shuffle progression. This drill simply adds a reaction component to the lateral shuffle. In order to succeed, you’ll need to call upon that base of mechanical proficiency you built by dedicating yourself to the lateral shuffle shuttle for a month.

How to Perform The Lateral Shuffle w/ Reaction:

  1. Set up two cones 3-5 yards away from each other
  2. Start in the middle of the cones with your feet outside hip width, knees slightly bent
  3. Have a friend point which way for you to move and react to their direction
  4. Perform this drill for 10 seconds then rest

2. The Mirror Drill

The next progression in the defensive agility drills to put the clamps on your opponents is the mirror drill. The mirror drill is more “interactive” than the lateral shuffle w/ reaction as you will be reacting to another athlete.

This makes things more difficult because in the lateral shuffle w/ reaction, there were only two possible options. In the mirror drill, you have to react to your opponents speed, direction, and tempo. This adds more stimuli to react to.

How to Perform the Mirror Drill:

  1. Set up two cones about five yards apart from each other
  2. Have a buddy stand in the middle of the cones in an athletic stance
  3. Stand across from him with your back turned to him
  4. When he says go, do a 180 and try to keep your belly button in line with his
  5. Perform this drill for around five seconds, then rest

3. Ascending Lateral Shuffles W/ Reaction

Finally, the apex of defensive agility drills is the ascending lateral shuffle w/ a reaction. If you don’t know, an ascending lateral shuffle is where you’re laterally shuffling in a backwards, diagonal pattern. The reaction just adds an athlete you need to react to.

In a similar way to the mirror drill, this drill adds nearly unlimited stimuli to react to. You’ll be reacting to the other athlete’s speed, tempo, and direction as he tries to lose you. The other athlete doesn’t have a ball either, which makes it tougher than covering someone in a game situation. He has more freedom of movement and can move with more speed.

This makes this drill a great pick if you need to up your defense.

How To Perform Ascending Lateral Shuffles W/ Reaction:

  1. Find a long surface on which you can move safely and freely
  2. Have a partner stand in front of you
  3. Get into a defensive position
  4. Your partner should begin running in angles down the surface while you shuffle and slide to keep up with him
  5. Have him cut, juke, and burst into quick sprints to challenge you
  6. Do this for 15-20 yards, then switch



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