Learn the blueprint for Coach Auriemma's defense, starting with defensive philosophy and leading into individual and team drills!
- Discover how to overcome a lack of athleticism on the defensive end
- Learn actions you can use to take away your opponent's 3-point shot
- Build the ball denial and rotation skills that form the foundation of a suffocating defense
with Geno Auriemma,
3x U.S. Women's Olympic Basketball Head Coach (3x Gold Medal; '00, '12, '16)
1000+ career wins - Fastest coach to 800, 900 and 1,000 wins, any level, men's or women's
11x NCAA Women's Basketball National Championship Coach ('95, '00, '02 -'04, '09 - '10, '13 - '16)
9x AP Coach of the Year; 8x Naismith Coach of the Year; 7x WBCA National Coach of the Year; 6x USBWA Women's National Coach of the Year
John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching award (2012)
Inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame ('06); Women's Basketball Hall of Fame ('06); National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame ('07)
19x Big East regular season and 22x Big East tournament titles
If you were given only six days to prepare your team to play aggressive, tenacious defense, how would you accomplish that feat? In this video, the coach of the most successful team in women's college basketball shows you how to do just that.
Discover the tenets of how to construct a tough and tenacious defensive team. Geno Auriemma presents a clear philosophy to operate from and how to effectively communicate the defensive principles needed to stop any team you face.
After outlining three basic goals for every game, Auriemma and his coaching staff show you how to plan your practice and break down defensive skills into a variety of intense stations that will challenge your players every minute of practice.
The defensive approach begins with ball pressure. Coach Auriemma likes to use ball pressure to take the opposing team's offense outside of their comfort zone. Doing this forces more mistakes by the offense and results in more turnovers and bad shots.
Second, Auriemma works on defending the areas of the court that are the most important. The use of a line running down the middle of the court is used to get help a defender get in position to defend what is most necessary to protect against.
Third, three objectives are laid out by Coach Auriemma: eliminating transition baskets, eliminating 3-point shots, and not fouling. When these objectives are accomplished during the course of a game, it is much more difficult for their opponents to score.
Individual Defense Drills
The first key to individual defense is to get into a good defensive stance. The Stance and Slides drill teaches how to get into a good stance and how to move correctly. This mass drill, one that involves the entire team, incorporates fundamental on-ball defense. It shows that even the best players in the country don't overlook learning the basics of stance.
Next is the Zig-Zag drill with a twist from a traditional version of this drill. Each on-ball defender will go through two rounds by guarding the ball to the half-court line. When the first dribbler reaches the half-court line, the defender starts the second round by executing a closeout to the baseline. Containment of the dribble and forcing changes in direction are critical elements that are taught.
To better teach individual defense, the team is broken into groups where the assistant coaches run five minute stations to work on various aspects of defensive play. In small groups, players have a chance to learn how to better defend in breakdowns of scenarios that might arise during a game. You'll be able to see the instruction and the repetitions of players as they rotate through the various stations.
The 1-on-1 defensive station is designed to teach how to guard the basketball properly. The on-ball defender is to position herself one arm's length away from the dribbler. To simulate this, the inside hand reaches out to mirror the basketball while the other hand helps deny passes and drives to the sideline or to the baseline. Auriemma uses a live-action drill to teach these concepts with a three-dribble limit starting from each wing.
To teach defensive rebounding, a drill is devised with an offensive and a defensive player going up after a missed shot. The defensive player throws the ball off of the backboard and tries to block out the would-be offensive rebounder. If the offensive rebounder gets the ball, they attempt to score. The defensive rebounder looks to make an outlet pass if they rebound the ball.
A wing denial station is utilized to encourage an aggressive mindset and to deny passes around the perimeter. The bottom foot of the defender denying the pass is to split the feet of the offensive player they are guarding. On back cuts, the defender has to be ready to snap the head and throw their hands to see and deflect passes.
The Shell is a basic drill that everyone who plays man defense will run. In this section, you'll see how Auriemma uses it to teach how he wants his squad to defend, help, and rotate. Working on basic "jumping to the ball," defenders are encouraged to move quickly and attempt to deflect perimeter passes. The Shell drill can escalate to incorporate dribble penetration to work on defensive rotations as well as help and recover.
To prevent easy baskets in transition, transition defense is a point of emphasis in teaching defense. Auriemma teaches his players to sprint back to areas deep in the lane to make sure they don't give up layups. From there, the defense looks to see where the ball is and how to best prepare to defend the other team's transition attack.
With a mix of individual and team techniques, this video from Coach Auriemma will give you drills and practice insights for virtually any defensive situation.