top of page

Three Methods - Backside Help

In this week's installment of the Three Methods Series, we will look at ways to work on your team's backside help defense.

In last week's installment, we looked at help defenders on the ball side. This week I wanted to explore those defenders on the backside. I personally find that getting players to be good backside help defenders is one of the most difficult tasks. We are asking these defenders to see both their man and the basketball and be prepared to help on drives, while also keeping track of the action on the other side of the floor. However, if we can find a way to get our teams to be really good at rotating to help positions on the backside we are well on our way to becoming a good defense.

In the different methods I introduced in this post, I wanted to weave in the most common ways that backside help gets triggered in games. I find that post entries (lobs or high/low passes), baseline drives, and blowbys from the point tend to require the attention of those backside help players most often. When possible I like to try and pose those types of actions in the practice concepts we are using. I am going to focus on post-defense next week so I tried to weave in kick-out passes, baseline drives, and slot drives into all three of this week's methods.

If you haven't read any of the other posts in the Three Methods Series, check out some of the links below:

Teaching Points -

Similar to what we talked about last week with ball side help we need to place a high level of emphasis on maintaining our vision of the basketball. Whether we are on the ball side or backside we must know where our man is and where the basketball is on the floor. You could argue that maintaining this vision is even more important on the backside because late help can often lead to shots at the rim. As we usually discuss in this section, we need to have a few key teaching points that we can stress in any practice concept that we use.

For backside help players I like to narrow it down to these three:

1. Positioning - Get players to maintain their vision of the basketball at all times, and whenever possible get themselves attached to some portion of the paint.

2. Cutters - We need to train players to not follow cutters to the backside. Once our man has cut to the backside the paint should act as "quicksand" attaching our feet to a help position.

3. Commit to Help - Once the opportunity for help comes we need players to go early and go aggressively.

Method #1 -

An important part of help defense is recognizing what the offense is trying to do, and neutralizing their advantage as quickly as possible. Although we would like our defense to be organized and purposeful with its rotations, I do like the idea of incorporating scramble scenarios into practice to get players in the mindset of recognizing the next most dangerous man. Our first practice methods would help us do just that.

4/3 Scramble -

We are going to split our players into two teams. One team will go on offense and place four players around the perimeter. The other team will take three defensive players and guard the closest players to the ball. (diagram 1).


For the offense we are asking them to move the basketball will the intent of getting a shot. There are only two ways that they can score, a dribble drive that gets to the rim, or a kick-out three-point shot.

  • No Cutting to the Rim

  • No Posting

  • After a drive, you must get behind the three-point line.


For the defensive players, the goal would be to neutralize the advantage, get an off-the-ball steal, or rally for a charge against a driving player. The possession ends when the defense secures the ball, the offense scores, or the ball is deflected out of bounds. When the possession is over three new defenders come on the floor. From a competitive standpoint, I like the idea of adding a scoring system and getting a winner and loser from the drill.

Method #2 -

One of my favorite finishing drills is 1/1 Russian, a concept that I talked about last week in our ball-side defense post. The idea is that we get a DHO at the top of the key which gives the offense a small advantage and the defense a chance to challenge at the rim. By adding a second defender to the concept we can work on elements of ourhelp defense. Last week we added a wing defender and corner player, which allows us to teach ball side positioning and stunting. This week we are placing the defender at the rim, in an attempt to get the "low defender" to challenge drives with active hands.

2/2 Russian, Drop Pass -

You can conduct this drill with two separate teams or just simply rotate through as a whole team concept. Whichever concept you choose we want to make sure that you are rotating that offensive drop player, and the X5 defender.

Teaching Points:

I really don't want to excessively stop this drill in order to maximize the reps we are getting, but I do want to have a few teaching point that we are stressing:

  • Go Early & Go Aggressively

  • Active Hands on Help Defenders

The result of being late to help in these types of scenarios is a lay up - so it is critical that our help acts quickly and aggressively to the drive. If the offense chooses to make a pass then we need active hands from the defense in order to get a defelection. If the offense does not pass the ball I want the X5 defender to be prepared to take a charge and get us the ball back.