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defensive TIPS
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Player Development

defenseBasketball defense isn't just "the other part of the game," it's the most important part of the game! It may not be as glamorous as scoring a lot of points, but being a shut down player gets you very much deserved respect (especially by your coach). Remember: offense puts people in the seats, but defense wins games. If you can stop the other team from scoring, then you've got a much better chance of winning than if you just score a lot of points only to be matched by the other team.

Defensive Drills
Defensive Videos


Do these basketball defense tips and become your team's
premier "shut-down" player.

The Defensive Stance
Your defensive stance is the foundation of all of your defensive basketball movements and will make you or break you! A proper stance will aid you in making you quicker and much more difficult to get by.

+ Feet should be about shoulder width apart with knees slightly bent.
+ Back straight, head up (and centered over your body) on the balls of your feet.
+ You don't want to be "flat-footed" or on your heels; it will slow you down and be easier
xx to get you off balance. Being on the balls of your feet maximizes your quickness.
+ Keep your butt low.
+ Feet slightly staggered (one further in front than the other).
+ Don't ever stand straight up and keep your knees bent slightly.
+ Keep your focus on the offensive player's waist.
+ Keep one hand up and the other down close to the ball.
+ Trying to lead your opponent to go to his/her weak side.
+ Hands up and arms out. You don't want your arms hanging by your side, you want to
xx be following the ball when guarding your opponent.
+ Don't ever cross your legs as you slide from side to side and be sure to keep your
xx feet fromxtouching one another.

Note that your lead hand should match your lead foot (i.e. if your right foot is forward in your stance, then your right hand should also be leading right over your foot). This helps to prevent your opponent from attacking your lead foot or slow them down enough for you to recover.

Defensive Sliding
Start out (and stay) in the defensive stance. To move right (slide right), push off with your left foot and slight it toward your right foot. When it's close to the right, step out with your right and slide the left toward your right foot again. DO NOT CROSS YOUR FEET. The same goes for sliding left, except you will be pushing off/sliding your right foot toward the left.




Never allow an opponent to shoot the ball uncontested. The problem, however, with players attempting to block shots is the tendency to commit fouls. Therefore, the proper way to contest a shot is to stay on your feet facing the shooter until the shooter leaves his or her feet, then attempt to get your hand on top of the basketball. At the very least, get a hand up so it limits his vision of the basket or he has to shoot over you. While you may not block the shot, you will put the shooter under a maximum amount of pressure. 

Whenever the ball penetrates on a pass or a dribble, all players should cover down to the level of the ball and force it back out. When the ball is dribbled toward the baseline, the nearest help side defender must quickly stop the ball before it reaches the lane. If the ball is passed to the post, we keep him from dribbling by quickly covering down. When the ball is passed back out, all players recover to their man. USE THE CLOSEST MAN TO THE BALL RULE ON RECOVERY.

Set up in your defensive stance. Your left foot is forward one foot away from the offense. Now, place your left foot one foot to the left of the offense. If the offense goes to the right, they will bump into you. If the offense goes to the left, their progress will not be stopped. This is the force left position. The force right position places the right foot forward, one foot to the right of the defense. This is the direction that you want to force left-handed players.  

One of the most important defensive concepts is the theory of keeping your body between your man and the basket. Your defensive positioning should always be between the ball and the man you are guarding. Be within an arms reach of your man, so you can put pressure on the ball. Focus on his belly button...where it goes, he will go. You can be faked out by his eyes, head and shoulder fakes, but not his mid-section. Try to make him go where he doesn’t want to go. The more times you turn him, the better defense you are playing.

The proper defensive stance is necessary in order to play good defense. On the ball, feet should be shoulder width apart, with the knees bent, and your butt down and your back straight. Your hands should be outside your knees with the palms up. You should be low(your nose to your man’s chest) in "nose-chest" position. When you are low, you can change directions more quickly, which is a key for playing great defense.  

If a defender is posting you up (having his back to the basket looking for the ball) try to get in front and deny him the ball. If you can’t, get a good wide base and don’t let him back you in any deeper. Any contact with his elbows on your chest should be a foul on him.

The proper way to move when guarding the dribbler is to step and push off. This is accomplished by stepping sideways with the lead foot (the foot closest to the direction in which you wish to go), then pushing off with your trail foot to catch up. Always keep your feet in contact with the floor. Stay low and keep your feet wide. Make quick slides.

The defensive effort is completed when we have POSSESSION OF THE BALL. When the ball is shot we must have ALL FIVE PLAYERS fulfilling their rebound responsibility until the ball is CHINNED. The team will rebound covering the paint in a triangle shape. Then you can outlet the ball and apply your offensive pressure with the primary and secondary break.  

Any time the ball is passed YOU MUST JUMP TO THE BALL. Make gradual, quick, immediate adjustments in your stance. You must be in position before the ball is caught. Jumping to the ball allows you to be in proper position to front cutters, avoid screens (be a moving target), and help teammates. Any time the ball is dribbled you must make the proper ball side or help side adjustments in positioning.  

Quick, organized transition with communication by all five players is a must for a great defensive team. You must STOP THE BALL. You must sprint to the level of the ball, eliminate all cheap baskets, and make opponents go against your set defense. NO LAYUPS, NO THREES, NO FOULS, NO SECOND SHOTS 

A key to being a good defender is to always put pressure on the ball. Don’t let an offensive player do anything with the ball--dribble, pass, or shoot--without having one of your hands trying to get into the way. Force him to his weakest side. Make him go where he doesn’t want to go. 

When your man is 2 passes away from the ball, you must learn to play weakside or help defense. Help defense means just that... if someone else’s man is driving to the hoop and has beaten the defender, you must leave your man and move to a position in front of them with both feet on the ground, (facing the player)and stop the drive; then once the ball is stopped, go back to your man. Point one hand to your man and the other to the ball and maintain a position that allows you to see both your man and the ball. Align yourself with the center of the basketball floor. Stopping the ball, no matter who is guarding him, is your first concern. This contributes to good team defense. 

This is a strategy to use when you are coming to defend a player from a distance away, such as sprinting out to your man on a skip pass after help defense . What you do is sprint half way to your player and then in a low defensive position, use shuffle steps to assume good defensive position.

Stealing the ball, or taking it away from the offensive player, is a tough task to pull off without fouling. This takes quick hands, good timing and good footwork. A skilled ball handler will protect the ball from the defender when he/she is dribbling. The main object as a defender is to be in good position at all times. Steals will come, especially with experience. But, you shouldn't concentrate on this one task, it will take away from the rest of your defending.

You want to be in good defensive position in front of the man with the ball. You then want to time your jump so you raise your hand in front of the ball just as it is released. You can also come from the side or from behind. The big waving blocks will generally lead to a foul. A clean block is hitting the ball and not the shooters hand or arm. Blocked shots are a good defensive skill and will get your team and the crowd excited when it happens. The key to a good blocked shot is capturing the ball following the block so that your team gets the ball. Bill Russell was an all-time great at this.

This is a defensive strategy that is used when a very good low post player gets the ball. When the ball is passed to the post, the perimeter (outside) player quickly will double team the post player. This will make it difficult for a good post player to make their offensive move and force them to pass the ball back out. 

Time to get to work,

Coach O



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