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Three Methods - Denial

In this week's Three Methods Series installment we are looking at ways to work on denying the basketball on the perimeter.

The denial of perimeter passes is an essential defensive element for teams that prefer a pressure style of man-to-man. The overarching purpose of perimeter denial is to disrupt the normal flow of a team's offense and force them to do things off-script. With great energy, effort, and technique we can make every perimeter difficult, and even if we don't get a deflection or steal force the offense to catch the basketball in places they do not want to operate in. When we combine good ball pressure with perimeter denial we have the makings of an extremely disruptive defense.

In this week's post, we want to discuss some of the basic denial techniques and a few ways to work on this in practice. Like all things, if we are going to be an effective denial team in the games then we have to make that a priority on the practice floor. I don't think we need anything incredibly complex, but simply a 1/1 and/or 2/2 concept that we really like to work on technique and positioning, and perhaps a 5/5 concept to add in the context of going from help position to denial position quickly.

If you are looking for other topics in my Three Methods Series check out these links:

Teaching Points -

Regardless of which type of denial we are talking about (wing, point, elbow, low post, etc.), we are going to employ virtually all of the same teaching points. Denying the basketball takes a lot of energy and effort, but it also requires good technique. With good technique, we can make the offense work for every single perimeter pass, while also remaining in a good position to challenge any cut towards the rim. If our positioning is done well we can not only deny passes but potentially deter drives as well.

1. Inside Hand & Foot Forward - Whichever hand and foot is closest to the basketball needs to be forward. We want our body open to our player and our lead hand ready to deflect errant passes.

2. Maintain Vision of Man & Ball - To make sure we are not getting overextended in our denial we need to maintain vision of the ball and our man. If lose vision of both it becomes easy for our man to counter our pressure with back door cuts.

3. Challenge all Swing & Penetrating Passes - The goal of denial is to disrupt our opponent's offense. Any pass that is attempting to change sides of the floor or threaten the rim needs to be denied by the defense.

4. Snapping your Head - Denial defense will elicit back door cuts, so we teach defenders to "snap their head" towards the baseline and change their lead head and foot to get their deflection.

Method #1 -

The first concept that I want to discuss is a fairly basic 1/1 denial drill. This is probably a concept I would only use if I had at least one other coach with me at practice. We are basically going to pair all players up and set up the drill on both ends of the court. We are going to make ourselves the passer at either the point (if we're working wing denial) or the wing (if we're working point denial). From there we are going to get a 1/1 rep where the offense is attempting to get a touch, and the defense is working on denying them that touch. If a pass is completed then we conduct a "3 dribble" 1/1 possession.

1/1 with a Passer -

Wing Denial:

In the first diagram, we have an example of wing denial. The offensive player is attempting to get open through v-cuts, flashes, or a back door cut. The defense is working on all of our teaching points from above:

  • lead hand & foot forward

  • maintaining vision of man & ball

  • snapping head on back door cuts

  • not overextending

If there is a catch the two players conduct a 3 dribble 1/1 possession where most likely we are forcing the action to the sideline/baseline.

Point Denial:

In diagram two, we are working on denial back to the point. In the scenario above the defender's left foot and hand should be forward as he attempts to get a deflection on any pass that should occur. Just as we discussed with the wing denial he is snapping his head towards the rim when he senses a back door cut. Once the possession is over we get two new players onto the floor to play out a possession and as the groups go through the drill they should be switching roles from offense to defense.

Method #2 -

This second concept is something I might use if I were the only coach at practice one night. We are going to stick with the 1/1 denial concept, but organize the players differently to get more reps. We would place everybody on the baseline and have them pair up, similar to the previous drill. From there they would split into two lines with me as the passer at the top of the key. From here they would alternate and get an opportunity to deny their player on each side.

1/1 Rapid Fire -

To start the concept the offense will send a pass from the baseline to me at the point. The defensive player is locked into a stance seeing both his man and the ball.


The offensive player would attempt to get a touch on the wing. He can sprint out there or attempt to get into the body of the defender and then get his touch. If denied succesfully the offensive player should try and cut back door.


The defense is in a denial stance attempting to prevent the offense from getting the basketball. He should make sure that he stays on top of the offensive player and does not allow him to get into his body. This is also a good time to teach the players about not overextending and getting too far out in front of the offensive player (leaving back door cuts open).

If an offensive player gets a touch they will play 1/1 with a 3 dribble limit. Once that possession is over the other line is immediately ready to go. We try to play this out on one side of the court so that the reps can occur more quickly. The next time that pair of players comes up they should have switched roles from offense to defense and vice-versa.

Method #3 -


The third concept I wanted to include in this post was a 5/5 version. To set this concept up we would split the guys into two teams. The teams can make substitutions after each "win", but we should always have 5/5 on the floor. I have this drawn up in a four out alignment, but you could play this out in any spacing template that your team uses. The idea is that we would play out a 7 game series, with the team who 4 games first being the victor. One restriction we are putting on the offense here is that they are only allowed to take one dribble per touch.

5 Passes or a Bucket -

How do you get a "win"?

For the offense you can get a win by simply completing 5 consecutive passes or getting a score somewhere along the way. If either of those things occurs your team gets a "win".

For the defense they can pick up a "win" by deflecting a pass and gaining possession of it, getting a steal, getting a defensive rebound or forcing a turnover.

Teaching Points:

Because the offensive can win with simple passes the defense has to be locked into a denial stance. The offense is already restricted by the single dribble rule so this should allow the defense to apply maximum pressure to the ball. The offense should be utilizing things like pivots and back door cuts as ways to counter the denial of the defense. The first team to accumulate 4 wins gets the win and you can attach that to some running or your competitve cauldron if you want to.

Forms of Denial -

I created the graphic on the right to show the different ways in which denial occurs on the perimeter. We're not looking at insdie touches like post entry or high post flashes but just perimeter passes that should be denied fairly routinely.

  • Pass to the Wing

  • Pass Back to the Point

  • The Back Door Cut

  • Elbow (Horns) entry pass

Order of Importance:

I do think there probably should be an order of importance that we develop in our practice plans based off of how often these passes occur in the games. At the top of that order would be thw wing denial pass. The majority of offesnes want to start their actions with an entry to the wing, and we can take that away we may disrupt the action right from the start. Next on the list would be the pass back to the point. If that wing entyr pass is successful we can still pin to the ball to a sideline by simply denying back to the point. By denying that pass we can stop the offense from swinging the basketball. Third on my list would have to be the back door cut. If we are routinely denying the wing and point then teams are going to counter with back door cuts. In my opinion those cuts are very hard to hit at the high school level, and with good "head snap" technique we can take that option away from the offense. Lastly, we should eventually work on the elbow or Horns Entry action. This can be a difficult pass to take away if you are concerned about ball screens or handoffs from this alignment, but by making this catch contested we can really thro off the timing of various actions out f this alignment.

Concluding Thoughts -

Denying perimeter passes can gain you immediate benefits in the form of deflections, steals, or forced turnovers. It can also gain you compounding benefits over the course of the game. The mental exhaustion of second-guessing your passes and getting taken out of your offensive sets can pay dividends in the second half of games. Of course, that type of benefit is only going to come if you are training your players to deny at a high level. If we can combine good perimeter denials with solid on-ball defense we have the making of a good defense, even if we are undersized.

If you liked the ideas in this post I would urge you to subscribe to my website and YouTube Channel for future content. If you have any drills that you really like on this topic feel free to leave them in the comments or get in touch with me.

Coach Lynch Contact Info:

Twitter - @CoachLynch_21

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