Successful basketball teams and winning basketball programs all have one thing in common; they play great defense.
Regardless of the type of defense you choose to employ (man-to-man, zone, full-court pressure, etc), all good team defenses are based on the following six principles:
- Take away the lane. Allowing too many shots from the lane area is a defense-killer. The more you allow your opponent to attack the lane, the weaker the structure of your defense becomes. Once the ball reaches the lane via either pass or dribble, it becomes difficult to defend all potential options. Certain defenders will be required to shift and help and that will allow opposing players to get open for easy shots.
- Take Away the High Percentage Shot. What is a high percentage shot? Basically, it is any open shot you allow your opponent to take. Most people may think a high percentage shot as being a layup or something in the lane (see above). While true, allowing players to shoot open, uncontested shots is allowing a high percentage shot.You can reduce the number of high percentage shots by maintaining your team defense positions, running them off of the their spots (think closeouts), and forcing them into off-balance, contested shots. Smart defensive teams will also make it difficult for the best shooters to receive the basketball and force the lesser players to shoot.
- Reduce Second Shot Opportunities. Block out and rebound effectively to eliminate offensive rebounds. Games are won and lost on second-chance points. Be aggressive and active in blocking out and securing the defensive rebound.
- Eliminate Your Turnovers. How does eliminating your turnovers affect your team defense? Turnovers, especially in the open-court and on the perimeter will often lead to easy fast break baskets for your opponent. Control the basketball on offense and get the shot you want. This will do wonders in helping your team defense and reducing the number of times you have to defend at a disadvantage.
- Pressure the Basketball. Your defensive point of attack should focus on the ballhandler. A player under pressure is more apt to make a mistake. A player under pressure also has more difficulty getting his/her team into their offensive system. Good ball pressure, plus solid positioning from the off-ball defenders will cause your opponents to have more difficulty with their overall offense.It’s up to you and your team defense philosophy where you want the point of attack to start. You may choose to attack fullcourt or you may choose to attack in a halfcourt setting. Regardless, it is important to apply as much pressure as possible on the player with the basketball.
- Discourage Dribble Penetration. Not always easy, but good defensive teams make dribble penetration difficult. This takes good on-ball pressure but also smart team balance so off-ball defenders are in good helpside position. Regardless if you prefer pressure defense or a bit more passive defense, it is important to stop dribble penetration.
Do you have any other principles to add? Share in the comments below!