Heart Drill tests defensive effort From Dan Ross, Springdale High School, Pennsylvania

It’s not always easy to test the resolve of your defenders in practice. However, with the Heart Drill, you have the ability to see what kind of guts your defenders have while teaching your offensive players how to make layups under pressure.

Photo via Antonio Vernon, Wikimedia Commons

The drill starts with two lines, one under each basket at opposite ends of the floor. One line is defense, and the other is offense. A coach stands at midcourt and receives a pass from the offensive player.

On the pass to the coach, the offensive and the defensive players race to mid-court. The defensive player’s responsibility is to prevent the offensive player from receiving a return pass from the coach around the half-court area. This player plays the ball and not the man. The offensive player makes fakes and tries to become free. This player has the option of moving in the direction of either basket.

Once the offensive player breaks free, the coach throws a pass. The offensive player drives to the closest basket. The defensive player tries to prevent a score.

There are four scenarios that happen.

Drill outcomes

  1. The offensive player decides not to shoot because of defensive pressure. Now that player throws the ball back to the coach and comes to half-court to get another pass from the coach to start the drill again.
  2. The offensive player makes the layup so the next offensive player in line jumps into the drill. The defender remains on defense.
  3. The offensive player misses the layup but gets the rebound. That player now must pass the ball back to the coach and start from half-court again.
  4. The offensive player misses the shot and the defender grabs the rebound. The defensive player now is on offense and the offensive player is on defense. The ball is thrown to the coach at mid-court to start the drill again.

Once your players understand the premise of this drill, add a wrinkle. On a made layup, the next offensive player in line only has one bounce of the ball to retrieve it. If not, the defender has the ability to grab the ball and be on offense with the drill continuing with a pass to midcourt.