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Basketball Skill Development Drills - Tag Drill

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This is a full court pairs drill. One defender (who is IT) stands on the free throw line in the backcourt with their back to the nearest basket. The offensive player stands on the baseline under the basket. On a coaches whistle the offensive player attempts to run at any speed or with any strategy to the opposite endline without being 'tagged' by the defender. If they are are tagged, they must then attempt to 'retag' the player. The player who is 'NOT IT' is the one attempting to get across the far baseline without being 'TAGGED'. This is a simple, but tremendous footwork and balance drill which your players, especially the younger one's will enjoy.


On the coaches whistle or clap, the defender spins around and using their defensive footwork, sliding or sprinting attempts to keep the offensive player from getting around them. If the (NON TAGGED PLAYER), to begin with the offensive player runs out of the court area, such as the sideline they loose the game and must do sit-ups or push-ups. In a good game, the offense and defensive player may exchange tags 3 or 4 times before one gets across the baseline. There are many strategies which your players will discover over time, but in the end it always comes down to good footwork and balance, which is the purpose of the drill. Your 'TAGGED' player, the defender to begin the game with will soon find out that if they break their balance, the offensive player will easily go around them.

This drill also teaches players to change speeds.

If you look in our playbook, you'll see the 1000 mph recover drill. These two drills used in combination have done more for my players in terms of changing footwork between slide steps and sprint steps than any defensive drills I have ever used.

Number of Players:

2 or more


Teach your defensive player (or TAGGED PLAYER) in case the defender tags the offensive player and their roles are immediately switched, to stay low, and keep their head over their base of support (the area between their two feet). Any time that head moves out of that area of support, your defender is going to lose their balance and get beat.

Secondly, teach your players to react quickly when tagged.

Many players are somehow suprised to be tagged. If they are tagged, tag back immedately. Changing speeds and directions works very well for the (NON TAGGED) player.


This drill works best without a basketball. It is very fast paced, is an excellent conditioner, and can be done in less than five minutes for a group of 10 players or so in pairs.

We usually have the players exchange positions after each run through down the court regardless of who won an 'Individual Tag Game'.

You can do best out of three, and other variations as well, but the bottom line is that it's a very effective game for defensive footwork.


Changing defensive footwork between slide and sprint steps


This basketball drill is licensed under a Creative Commons License. This drill is from Pål Degerstrøm at www.degerstrom.com/basketball.

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