The Shell Drill - A Coaches' Guide

The Shell Drill - A Coaches' Guide

by Blog Admin on May 25, 2021

If there’s one defensive drill that every coach should know – it’s the Shell Drill.

Having good help rotations is absolutely vital to a strong team defense. And this drill is a great way of showing players exactly where they need to be, depending on if the ball is one, two, or three passes away.

Try to find 10-12 minutes to work on this at every single practice. Over time, the proper rotations and communication will become like second nature to your players.

Set Up:

  • Have four players line up along the three-point line, two up top, and two on the wing, with a coach at the top of the key.
  • Have four defenders line up along the baseline, along with a coach underneath the hoop.


  1. The coach underneath the hoop will have a basketball, and when he passes it up to the top of the key, the defenders will all sprint and close out their men.
  2. After that, the coach at the top of the key will pass the ball to one of the two players up top, and all the defenders will need to slide accordingly.
    • Guarding the ball = close out and force away from the middle
    • 1 pass away = full denial
    • 2 passes away = help side
    • 3 passes away = aggressive help side
  3. The players continue to pass the ball around the perimeter, forcing the defense to move from position to position
  4. Once the players have gotten the hang of the rotations you can make the drill a little bit tougher on them, and give the offense 2-3 dribbles to try and score against the defense
  5. Finally, you can “go live” and allow the offense to try and score.
  6. Flip the teams from offense to defense after 5-6 minutes of action.

Coaching Tips

  • The easiest way to explain proper help side position to your players is that they should stand“ about halfway up the invisible line between their man and the ball. Then take one or two steps backward so they can see the ball and their man using their peripheral vision.
  • The players hands should be up with one index finger pointed toward the ball and one toward their man.
  • Every defender should be in constant communication with their teammates, shouting out the position they are currently in: “Ball! Ball! Deny! Deny! Help! Help!”