Pop Up Defender Review

Our Honest Review of a Basketball Pop Up Defender:

We Tested a Pop Up Defender and For a Number of Months on a Home Court, Here Are Our Thoughts…

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After introducing a Pop Up Defender into our home basketball court training sessions for several months, we wanted to reivew its pros and cons and give you a run down before you consider purcahsing one.

Firsrly, What is a Pop Up Basketball Defender?

For those new to the concept, a Pop Up Basketball Defender is a training tool designed to simulate an opposing player on the basketball court. It’s essentially a life-sized defender (if you are a kid), which is soft and collapsible, which can also be positioned anywhere on your basketball court to mimic defensive scenarios and  practice those drives to the basket.

The goal here is to help players develop skills such as dribbling past defenders, making strategic jumps, taking contact and honing offensive maneuvers under a form of simulated defensive pressure.

There are a few different types of defenders on the market, in this instance, we focussed on the ‘Pop Up’ variety in order to work out its advanatges and disadvanatges and let you know if you sholud introduce this into your basketball training.

Pop Up Defender Pros:

  • A Realistic Defensive Tool: Unlike static cones, chairs or wheelie bins (common in Australia), the semi life-sized ‘3 foot 5’ pop up defenders do offer a more realistic simulation for getting past an actual opponent. This will help players develop a higher level of court awareness and we have noticed that our children got more comfortable ‘leaning in’ and embracing the contact, which is essential to learn at a younger age for more confident drives to the hoop.
  • Enhances Shot Selection: Regular game play practice with a pop up defender can improve a player’s ability to dribble under pressure whilst executing precise shots, such as a fadeaway. By having a larger training aid on the court, our children got more comfortable choosing the right type of shot, instead of blazing away with no defensive pressure on them.
  • Screen Setting, Dribbles & Cuts: Pop Up defenders can be used in training to complete various drills, such as cuts, fast and slow dribbles, cross overs, drives and screen setting. This variety allows for a more engaging practice session as you incorporate different offensive moves into training. Whilst the defenders are good for solo sessions, we found they worked better in passing and dribbling drills with more than one player on the court. We also found they were very handy for screen setting drills, where you would normally need another person. Younger players can practice getting around the defenders (set as a screen) and then loop this in with a cross over shot or drive to the basket.
  • Moveability: These defenders are very light weight and a sleek design which makes it easy to collapse them and fold away (you’re looking at 30 seconds max to setup / fold down). Because they collapse into a large flat pancake they make it  easy for transport and storage. You could fit literally 50 of these into a car boot without any issues.
  • Weighted and Storage: Because the pop up cylinder has a lid which zips open, you can store items in this area such as jumpers, keys and phones etc. The bottom area has a removable blow up pouch, which water or air can be added to easily. This weighted pouch will stop the defenfer blowing over or being knocked doen easily, especially after a few rough screens or push off’s.

Pop Up Defender Cons:

  • A Lack Of Dynamic Defense: While these can be useful for simulating defensive presence, obviously pop up defenders cannot replicate the real and dynamic movements of human defenders, which we found limited our kids preparation for in-game knocks and unpredictability.
  • Become too Reliant: If you only use these defenders and you rely too heavily on drills with pop up defenders, this can and will limit a player’s exposure to more variable defensive strategies. These are not a substitute for the  physical aspects of a real defender, and therfore whilst confidence can improve, some real form of defensive pressure always needs to be introduced into a sessions eventually.
  • Numbers and Space Required: Setting up a pop up defender requires ample space for effective use, especially on a home court likes ours (35 square metres).  If you have or need more than one Pop Up Defender, then this problem is magnified.
  • Cost Consideration: In Australia a high-quality pop up defender retailes for approx anywhere from AUD $70 – up to AUD $100, which some will find significant, especially when considering you may need to buy multiple defenders to simulate various defensive, shooting and dribbling scenarios effectively.
  • Wear and Tear on Material: Pop Up Defenders are made out of a very light weight plastic and are therefore susceptible to rips, tears and marks as you transport these or even leave them outside for dogs to play with (like we did). You need to be careful when packing them away that you do not break the plastic rings which make these ‘pop up’ otherwise overtime you will have a flacid defender. We recommend bringing them in after every session and packing them away in a carry bag, which only takes 30 seconds. If your kids are anything like ours, that sounds easy enough but good luck getting them to commit.

Our Verdict – Are Pop Up Defenders Worth It?

Pop Up Defenders are a defensivley focused training aid which can also improve offensive skills, and therefore do a better than average job as a training aid due to the variety of cut, passing, screen, shot and drive drills that can be run. They offer a decent simulation for a defender, especially for younger players. This will helps them get used to makking space and refining their dribbling, screeing and maneuvering skills. We found the defender was especially beneficial for a more diversified training session which we combined with some use of screen setting and in-bound shoot and release shooting sessions. If you want to get creative, you could start a player with a dribble stick crossover session followed by a passing drill, into a screen a shoot / drive style play.

However, considering the defenders dynamic defensive limitations and reasonably high costs (sometimes near to AUD $100), we don’t suggest you introduce these into a training session unless you have given some forethough to the types of drills you want to simulate and work on. We also recommend more than one defender to cover different areas of your court. This raises the costs but provides a more wholseome training session.

For those younger players that want to elevate their offensive game, the investment can be justified, provided it’s used in conjunction with other training methods and drills to stop any eventual boredom creeping into sessions. For older players, 16 years and over, the defenders are not big enough to worry you on shots and not heavy enough to simulate a defender, therefore you might want think about how creative you can get with them.

Once we weigh up their ease of use, light weight nature and benefits in enhancing offensive skills against some of the drawbacks related to its static nature and higher cost, we have come to the conclusion that a Pop Up Basketball Defender is a worthwhile addition to any serious (younger) player’s home court setup. They certainly beat dribbling and driving around wheelie bins or plastic chairs (which I used to use growing up). They are also are much more convenient from a moveability and storage perspective.

If you look after these, pack them away after sessions and take care of them, we can’t see why you wouldn’t get many years of use out of a Pop Up Defender.


Our Rating: A Valuable Training Aid for Improving Drives, Screen Setting and Dribbling at Defenders: We rate it a 4.25/5


Interested in Buying a Pop Up Defender?

Even though we got our Pop Up Defender custom made overseas, we recommend buying a Pop Up Defender locally from a reputable and established company, such as Powehandz.

You can view or even purchase a Powerhandz Pop Up Defender online at Amazon right here: