Open Practice with Ben Jacobson


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  • Learn how to organize practices so players can effectively transition the fundamental skills they learn into game situations
  • Learn breakdown drills that emphasize closeouts and jumping to the ball on the pass – fundamentals needed for good man-to-man defense teams
  • Learn a drill that will enable you to practice every transition scenario and condition your players at the same time
  • Learn drills for containing the dribble and for mastering defensive rotations to cut off dribble penetration
with Ben Jacobson,
University of Northern Iowa Head Coach; 2015 MVC Tournament Champions;
2015 MVC Coach of the Year (3x MVC Coach of the Year);
most wins of any head basketball coach in school history; 2010 Sweet SixteenUniversity of Northern Iowa Head Coach Ben Jacobson shares in-depth skills and drills to build your on- and off-ball defense.Coach Jacobson shares the ways he has modified in his unique program of practice organization and drill instruction to get better results in live-game action. Each drill has a few primary coaching points and Coach Jacobson shows goals for each that keeps the team efficiently working to achieve those goals.

In the warm-up segment, Coach Jacobson and his staff demonstrate several drills for improving footwork, balance and closing out. Two key fundamentals are emphasized here; closing out to contest the shot and keeping hands wide to defend the dribble. Players learn balance, proper footwork and closing out on the ball.

The drills gradually progress to longer closeouts that stretch the defender’s range. These drills require players to be quick and take short steps as they closeout to remain in contact with the floor. In the 3-on-3, 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 drills, Coach Jacobson emphasizes being light on the feet, ready to move and getting the head on a swivel to avoid getting caught staring at the basketball.

Games are won and lost in transition. Teams must be able to score when they have the advantage on offense and get stops when they are at a disadvantage on defense. Coach Jacobson shares a transition drill that works on advantages on offense and disadvantages on the defensive end.

Half Court Defense
Teams need to get stops in the half-court defensively and have the ability to execute and convert offensively when opposing defenses are set. Coach Jacobson ends his presentation with two half-court drills – the “Butler Drill” and the “Shutout Drill.’ The Butler Drill starts as a disadvantage 4-on-3 drill to work communication, covering for each other and rotation. The emphasis is guarding the basketball one-on-one to reduce the number of required defensive rotations.

The Shutout Drill is a 5-on-5 drill that trains the defense to make stops until the 35-second shot clock runs out. If the offense scores, is fouled or gets an offensive rebound, the 35-second shot clock is reset. Teaching defensive intensity is important because many times the defense has to stop the offense three times in order for the clock to tick to zero.

Raise the level of your team defense this season. Coach Jacobson shows you how to organize practices in order to transition proven fundamentals into positive live game improvements. This will help you get the most out of your valuable practice time.

Produced at the 2014 IBCA Clinic.

72 minutes. 2015.