Part of the Five-Star Basketball Lecture series, Mike Fratello here in a short 5 minute segment talking about closing out on defense. First off, I just want to say that I love Mike Fratello, he's a great defensive mind. I love his nickname too, The Tsar, given to him by Marv Albert because Marv thought Mike was such a wizard with the tele-illustrator breaking down those plays for TV. Anyways, I digress...

Back to defense, watch the clip with Fratello here talking about a couple of different ways to close out, then his philosophy that he teaches for closing out and defending the ball on the wing,

Flying at the Shooter:

When you have great rebounders, dominating the defensive glass, you can afford the luxury of flying the defender at the shooter and then leaking out on the break. Your rebounders can then grab the boards, turn and go over the top for the easy score. Don Nelson loves this, and his Warriors do it all the time,

Staying Down, Chopping the Feet:

As a football coach having coached receivers and DBs, closing out by chopping your feet is a pretty easy concept for me to grasp, but I know it's not for some others. Basically, when you're running at someone at full speed, say from help-side recovering after a skip pass, you want to be able to breakdown and bring your body under control. You do that by chopping the feet, or a quick succession of steps getting shorter and shorter until you are 1 arms length away from your check. Exactly when you should start chopping your feet on the closeout, depends mainly on your athletic ability. I've seen some guys able to go to almost 6 feet from their check before chopping their feet to get under control, whereas others require 10 or more feet,

Force Baseline:
Whether you believe in force middle or force baseline is another debate (Fratello believes in forcing baseline as do I), but regardless, Fratello talks about being half-a-man on the top side with shoulders parallel to the sideline so that your check cannot get a step ahead of you and dribble-drive middle,

Defending the Passer:

I love this part. Now, obviously, if you're defending a shooter or driver, you can't do this. But often times, I see the center with the ball over his head on the perimeter. Obviously, he is a passer. Don't give him space, get up and challenge the pass. Will you always steal it? No. Will you always force a bad pass? No. But do disrupt his line of sight, make him take up more clock, all good defensive tactics.


The little things, that's what the offseason is all about. Working on the intricacies of your game. Becoming a better 1v1 defender, team defender. Again, happy 4th everyone, and for you AAU coaches, enjoy the best part of the season, July Evaluation Period.

If you love Mike Fratello like I do, you'll want to take a closer look at Mike Fratello's 2 in 1 DVD on his Defensive Philosophy and using the 3-point shot. You can catch Coach Fratello in season doing the color commentary on TNT. Join the many coaches already talking about their favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.