Get Defensively Sharp: Mastering Basketball Closeout Drills

basketball closeout drills

2 Vital Basketball Closeout Drills to Sharpen Team Defense

Basketball is a game that is all about defense and offense. Without an effective defense, your team may as well pack up and go home because you’re not going to win any games.

One of the most important defensive tactics in basketball is the closeout. A closeout is a defensive technique used by players to rush toward their opponents who have the ball in order to stop them from shooting or passing.

This technique requires two vital basketball closeout drills, which will sharpen team defense. The first drill that every coach should include in their practice routine is the one-on-one closeout drill.

This drill provides an opportunity for defenders to work on their defensive positioning, footwork, and timing when closing out on an offensive player who has caught the ball on the wing or baseline. It’s essential for youth players, especially because it helps them learn how to get into a proper help side position quickly while still staying with their defender.

The second must-have drill for any coach looking to improve their team’s defense is Sean Miller’s “Vegas Closeout” Drill. This amazing drill does not only teach defenders how to close out correctly, but also it teaches them how to play perfect help-side defense as well.

The Vegas Closeout Drill will enable both guards and forwards on your squad to get more comfortable with catching dribblers before they can catch and shoot, getting into a proper stance while moving sideways, finding space between teammates as they rush toward ball handlers, using body positioning techniques like hip-checks or shoulder shoves effectively without fouling out of bounds. Coaches should prioritize including these two vital basketball closeout drills in their practice routine if they want their team’s defense to be sharp enough during an actual game situation.

These drills allow defenders at all positions – from guards all the way up through centers – to work together more efficiently by developing footwork patterns and body positioning techniques that can change up during games depending on which side of the court they’re defending. If coaches can find other drills that work well alongside these two, then their team should have an excellent chance of playing outstanding defense in any game scenario.

What is a Closeout?

basketball closeout drills

Basketball is a game of strategy, and every team needs to have a solid defense to win games. However, not every team knows what it means to perform a closeout. In the simplest terms, a closeout is when the defender sprints toward an offensive player with the ball in order to prevent them from scoring.

This move can force the ball handler to make mistakes and can even lead to turnovers. The key aspect of performing a closeout effectively is positioning.

The defensive player needs to be in the right position so that they can quickly react and stop the ball handler from scoring. This means that their feet need to be shoulder-width apart and their hands high, ready for any pass or shot attempt.

There are different types of closeouts that teams can practice during drills. One commonly used drill works on 1-on-1 closeouts, which helps players get used to defending against an opponent one-on-one.

Another drill is Sean Miller’s “Vegas Closeout” Drill, which involves two players positioned at opposite ends of the court sprinting toward each other while defending one another. It’s important for youth players especially to learn these drills early on as they are fundamental skills for good basketball defense.

By practicing these drills consistently, teams will be able to improve their overall defense and work together more efficiently on the court. So let’s get those hands high and start practicing those closeouts!

Basketball Practice Drills: 1-on-1 Closeout

Basketball Practice Drills: 1-on-1 Closeout The 1-on-1 closeout drill is one of the most effective ways to teach your defenders how to approach the offensive player and prepare for the catch. It’s an essential part of developing a solid defense.

This drill requires two players, one defensive player and one offensive player. The drill starts with the defender in the help side position.

The coach or trainer passes the ball to the offensive player on either wing, and once they receive it, they must take a quick dribble toward the baseline. At this point, it’s up to the defender to quickly close out on them and force them away from their preferred side.

This drill is great because it gives defenders an opportunity to practice their footwork, balance, and overall discipline. It can also teach defenders how to force an opposing player into taking low-percentage shots – something that can be invaluable in a real-game scenario.

Defenders start with help-side positioning (so as not to be beaten bypasses), then quickly transition into closeout mode once they see where their opponent is headed. The goal of this drill is for defenders to keep their offense from scoring or even getting off a good shot attempt against them.

If done correctly on both ends, this will make for intense practice games that are much more challenging than any regulation game due to its focus on defensive play rather than scoring points. In essence, mastering this drill will teach your team how to win games by shutting down opponents’ offenses – which might just be what separates winning teams from losing ones.

Sean Miller’s “Vegas Closeout” Drill

One of the most effective basketball closeout drills out there is Sean Miller’s “Vegas Closeout” drill. This drill – named after the city where Miller first witnessed it being used – is a great way to help your players improve their defense and better understand how to guard their man.

In essence, the Vegas Closeout drill involves two players standing near the top of the key and one guarding the ball. The ball handler passes to either wing, then sprints in that direction while his defender performs a closeout.

The defender must get in position quickly, take choppy steps if needed, and contest the shot without fouling. One of the things I love about this drill is that it teaches defenders to be aggressive when closing out on shooters.

Rather than giving up space and allowing easy baskets, players who practice this drill will learn how to force baseline drives or push shooters into more difficult areas of the court. And because they’re forced to react quickly and get into a defensive stance with their hands high, defenders who use this drill will be much more disciplined on defense overall.

Close-Out and Help-side Drill

One of the most prevalent issues in basketball defense is the inability to execute proper help-side defense. Defenders often get caught ball-watching and fail to provide support for their teammates, leaving gaping holes in their defense. This is where the Close-Out and Help-Side Drill comes in, a game-changer drill that coaches should make a non-negotiable part of their basketball practice drills.

The Close-Out and Help-Side Drill simulates live action, with defenders starting with one foot within the key. A coach or other offensive player will start at the baseline with a ball and make moves around the left-wing area as they would in an actual game situation.

The two defenders must maintain good positioning while also practicing choppy steps to stay mobile enough for any sudden movements by either the point or pass. As soon as the coach passes or shoots from that position, all players must react accordingly.

The defender who is guarding the coach will contest any possible shot, while his teammate must immediately sprint toward his help-side position on the opposite side of the court to prevent easy baskets from other offensive players. This drill not only fosters sound defensive fundamentals but also enhances communication among teammates on both ends of the court.

Coaches can adjust this drill according to skill level by adding more players or increasing speed and intensity levels during execution. It’s an essential part of basketball closeout drills that should be done regularly if you want your team to be proficient defensively!


Basketball closeout drills are a critical aspect of team defense. It’s an opportunity for the defensive player to show their skills and shut down the opponent’s offense.

A good closeout drill will teach defenders the proper technique to get in position quickly, stay balanced, and contest the shooter. It’s not only about preventing the shooter from scoring but also creating opportunities for rebounds.

Basketball coaches need to incorporate effective closeout drills into their practice sessions regularly. It is essential to help players develop good habits that will translate well into games.

The drills covered here are just a small sample of what is available, but they offer a solid foundation for building a defensive strategy. We should always remember that basketball is not just about winning or losing; it’s also about having fun on the court.

Whether you’re playing with youth players or trying to improve your own game, basketball drills should be enjoyable and challenging. So go out there and play your best game!