As an NBA champion with multiple All-Defensive Team honors to his name, Lionel Hollins knows a thing or two about what it takes to guard someone at the highest level of competition. For him, the key to playing suffocating defense boils down to three main things: technique, quickness and desire. While competitiveness can’t be taught, technique and quickness can be, and Coach Hollins has created a device to do just that. It’s called the Defensive Slide Bar, and its primary purpose is to create and reinforce an athlete’s muscle memory for proper footwork, balance and positioning.
“I wanted to help players learn how to be in a defensive stance and how to slide,” Hollins said, “and I wanted to force them to do it the right way. When you have the slide bar on, you can’t cheat the drill because it only allows you to bring your feet together a little less than shoulder-width apart.”
Of course, that’s just the start. The key to defense is keeping the person with the ball in front of you, and the slide bar helps train athletes to move their feet in a way that’s advantageous in accomplishing this goal.
“The quickest way to get beat is to lose your balance,” Hollins said. “If I’m guarding you and you go to your right, which means I’ve got to go left, if I step with my right foot, I’m crossing over and preparing to run. If you then stop and change direction, I’m beat. By stepping left, I’m on balance and not overcommitted. The concept is step, slide. The offensive player can’t run over you; they have to go left or right to get around you. And if you can move your feet and force yourself to get two or three slides, then you’re going to put yourself in a position to get help.”
Coach Hollins used his device while coaching the Brooklyn Nets, and it’s currently being used by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Duke University because Will Stephens, Associate Director of Sports Performance for Men’s and Women’s Basketball saw the benefits of the slide bar after watching the Nets’ players use it during training camp.
Click here to learn more about the Defensive Slide Bar, or to order the product for your athletes.
By Charlie Frankel (Writer for ESPN)