Tom Izzo Three Man Defensive Shell Closeout Drill

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo utilizes the three man defensive shell drill as a staple in many of his practices.

The drill emphasizes proper help defense positioning, active communication across the defense,  immediate rotation when the offense passes the ball, and proper technique when dealing with cutters and movement within the offense.

The three man shell defense also acts as an effective diagnostic test for individual and team defense while creates a great framework for coaches to stop action for teaching moments.

3 Man Defensive Shell Closeout Drill
  • Starting position.
  • 3 defenders out; 3 lines of offense.
  • x1 rolls ball out to offensive player.
  • x1, x2, x3 immediately close out, sinking their hips and shuffling their feet as they approach their defender.
  • If closing to help position, defender will be two steps from ball, 1 step off of the passing line.
  • 1 passes to ball to wing.
  • x1, x2, x3 all jump to new positioning as soon as ball is in the air.
  • Defender that is two passes away MUST have both feet in the paint.
  • 2 passes back to 1.
  • x3, x2, x1 all jump back to defensive position when pass is in air.

  • 1 passes to two, executes a UCLA basket cut, and exits opposite to the ball.
  • x1 jams the cutter with an arm bar, quickly pivots to open to the man, and then keeps one arm in contact with the cutter while the other arm is in the passing lane.
  • When the cutter exits the lane, x1 demonstrates good help principles for defending someone two passes away, doesn’t chase the cutter, and keeps two feet in the lane.
  • 3 simultaneously walks his defender down to the point and then makes a hard v-cut to the top of the key. x2 must jam him in the lane, and then reposition as he cuts to the top of the key.

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