This article was written by Delta State University head coach Jim Boone and assistant coach Robert Szorc.
Employing the pressure pack line philosophy for the past 21 years, the term “closeout” and one’s ability to execute this fundamental basketball skill is at the crux of our defense. Because we do not deny perimeter passes, closeout situations occur an inordinate amount of times during a game, specifically during each possession.
Therefore, closeouts are an integral part of our practice plans on a day-to-day basis because much of our success or lack thereof can be directly related to our ability to closeout on the ball.
The type of closeout performed is directly related to the relative skill set of the man they are guarding. In preparation for an opponent, we spend a great deal of time discussing how we will closeout to each player. The terminology below and the teaching points describe the different labels we utilize as per each specific closeout.
Types of Closeouts for Our Pack Line Defense
- Dead 3 (Ray Allen)
- This is for a player that is an outstanding catch & shoot three-point shooter.
- Closeout “Up under offensive player forcing the player to put the ball on the floor.”
- Straight (Kobe)
- This is for a player that can both shoot it and drive it.
- Closeout “Within a finger touch.”
- TSPD (Think Shot – But Play Drive)
- This is for a player who is a marginal shooter but will knock down the open shot.
- Closeout “Hard and Short – Get a great contest.”
- Driver (Rondo)
- This is for a player who cannot shoot and only wants to drive it.
- Closeout “Toes to the Pack.”
Teaching the Proper Closeout
- Sprint 2/3 of the way, “Chop It Down” the last 1/3.
- High hands with bent elbows.
- Palms to the Sky.
- Butt down, head back.
- High Hands to Active Hands (Hands on the glass).
- Square to the ball.
Basketball Drills to Work on Closeouts
These basketball drills will ensure that your team can closeout at a high-level and that they have the mindset of closing out on each catch. Because as much as it is a skill, it must also be a part of your team’s defensive mindset.
3 Line Closeouts (Form Closeouts specifying the type of closeout).
1/1 Closeouts (2 dribble max – activity in the gap – hard & short – contest the shot).
The next part of our defense is the “Know Your No’s.” For our basketball team defense to perform at its highest level, we must execute the seven points below. If we lack in any of them, we will struggle to execute our defensive game plan.
No Paint Touches
- We do not want the ball to get to paint. If the ball gets in there, we have to get it out.
- Consequences of the ball getting to paint:
- Take a charge – emphasize, and teach.
- Get a deflection.
- Block a Shot.
- Hard, clean foul (do not give up lay-ups).
- Eliminate long rotations across the baseline and mismatch blockouts.
No Rhythm 3’s
- Must contest shots with every fiber of one’s body.
No Direct Drives
- Must be able to guard your yard.
No Fastbreak Lay-ups
- Sprint back on defense – Get back guys must get back.
No 2nd Shots
- Contradictory to consequences of paint, but we want to shoot more FT’s than our opponent attempts.
These are the keys to our basketball pressure pack-line defense that we have found successful in our program when developing our defensive strategy. Hopefully, these keys will add some value to your defense as well.