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Basketball Skill Training: Defensive Lateral Speed

Prepare for March Madness by beefing up your basketball skills. Three training protocols to make you the ultimate defender.

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The game of basketball is a true test of an athlete’s ability to think on their feet. Due to its incredibly fast pace and the nature of the sport, it calls for speed both linearly and laterally. In order to improve your change of direction and lateral speed it's critical to have great overall body awareness, stability and learn proper deceleration/acceleration mechanics. Improvements in strength and conditioning are beneficial but pale in comparison to learning the technical aspects of lateral movement. Below is a three-step progression to develop incredible change of direction and lateral capabilities.

Master The Fundamentals

In order to move quickly in different directions you must first be able to decelerate correctly. Proper deceleration mechanics allow an athlete to absorb force efficiently so that it may be released quickly in the opposite direction. The drill below will teach you how to stop correctly so that the body is in the best position to reverse directions.

1-2 Shuffle with Stick

Sets: 3 x 5 Reps each direction. Rest: 60–90 sec. Stance: 1. Start with right foot on one of the lane lines of a standard basketball court (facing the baseline) 2. Get in the athletic position 3. Feet shoulder-width, soft and springy (on the balls of your feet) 4. Knees slightly bent and rotated outward 5. Hips back (Hip hinge) 6. Lower and upper back arched 7. Arms back and aligned with the torso Push off: 1. Stay in the athletic position 2. Then stand on your left leg 3. Push off the left leg 4. Get triple extension of the ankle, knee and hip 5. Then land on the right leg (modified athletic position) 6. Immediately after landing, the left leg will follow with a push off (triple extension) 7. Make sure the left leg stays shoulder width (any closer will cause a poor movement pattern) 8. Cover the entire width of the paint Stick: 1. After the second push off (left leg), stick on the right leg 2. The right leg should be on the opposite lane line 2. Push the hips back 3. Knee slightly bent and rotated outward 4. Land on a soft flat foot (land quietly) Note: Repeat the movement in the opposite direction. NEXT: Drill #2 >>

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