The Shell Drill

The Shell Drill – Basketballs #1 Defense Drill

Why Coaches Love The Shell Drill

Ask any coach the one drill they can’t go without in practice and they all will say the shell drill. The reason for this is because of the versatility of the shell drill. More than any other drill, the shell drill allows teams to get more done in less time. And what coach doesn’t love to do this?

What Is The Shell Drill?

The shell drill in its basic form is putting the offense and defense on the floor in a 3v3 or 4v4 format to play against each other. These formation are used to teach certain aspects of an offense or defense under constraints. By using constraints a coach puts one group at a disadvantage and one at an advantage. 

The constraints allow a coach to:

  1. Award behavior they want.
  2. Teach specific areas of the game.
  3. Control the tempo of practice.
  4. Control the duration of work.
  5. Create a competitive environment.

Let’s take a look at two different shell drill set-ups. First you have a 3v3 set up and second there is 4v4 set-up. 

3v3 Shell Drill Set-up

3v3 Shell Drill

4v4 Shell Drill Set-up

4v4 Shell Drill

Don’t allow yourself to think the shell drill is like playing pick-up ball in a 3v3 or 4v4, a shell drill goes far beyond this.

The key to getting the most out of the shell drill is to break the game down to stretch players understanding and effort to make them better. (Learn how to get your to players to play harder.) Depending on the constraints a coach uses one team will have an advantage while the other will have to make up for being at a disadvantage with communication, effort and execution. These constraints will range from basic defensive coverages to complex assignments when things break down.

Basic Offensive Shell Drill Constraints

In the beginning of a season coaches typically want the constraints to be on the offense in order to teach defensive coverages.

  • 5 passes before a shot
  • Offense is stationary and doesn’t move
  • No dribbling or limited dribbles
  • Offense must drive to a particular spot (baseline, free throw elbow, into a trap, etc.)

Basic Defensive Shell Drill Constraints

As the defense learns proper communication, location, and spacing it’s time to put the constraints on the defense and make them start to play at a disadvantage. 

  • Play with one less defender than the offensive team.
  • Defenders start in the paint and have to close out and get to proper position based on the balls position.

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