Individual defensive techniques are very important in your overall defensive scheme. These ideas and tactics should be emphasized with your players as you teach one-on-one skills within your overall team defense.
We know the importance of helpside defense and how a good team defense can utterly disrupt an opponent, however, each individual defender must also understand his responsibility for controlling his own man.
The following tactics should be emphasized, taught, and discussed with your team:
- Be Confident: Believe in your ability to contain / control your man and be confident in your team helpside defense. The fundamentals, footwork, and skills are necessary, but great defense starts with great confidence in your ability to shut the opponent down.
- Study: The first few times on defense, pay close attention to how your man moves (with & without the basketball). Learn his moves, his strengths, his weaknesses. Learn where he likes to shoot, direction he prefers to dribble, etc. Learning your opponent during the course of a game will do wonders in your ability to disrupt or shut him down.
- Anticipate: Don’t just study and do nothing with your newfound knowledge! Anticipate his moves. Force him to one side or one direction and then cut him off. Force him where he doesn’t want to go. He can’t run you over, therefore you do have some control in ‘forcing’ him to go where you want him to go.
- Emphasize Weakness: All players have a weakness (even the greatest of players have areas of weakness compared to their strengths). Take advantage of any weaknesses by forcing them to their weakness. When guarding the ball, this usually means forcing them to use their weak hand.
- Do Not Reach: Be a pain in the you-know-what and bother the ball handler as much as possible, but don’t reach. Reaching in only causes you to foul or puts you off-balance.
- Talk & Listen: Be in constant communication with your teammates.
- Ball-Up = Belly-Up: When the opponent raises the ball up over his head, belly-up to apply greater pressure. If the dribble has already been used, apply even greater pressure. If the dribble is still available, you can still apply great pressure because he is not going to start his dribble from above his head.
- Jump to the Ball: When your opponent passes the basketball, immediately ‘jump to the ball’ (move toward the direction of the pass). Do not turn your head and watch the flight of the ball only to lose your man. Use your peripheral vision so that you can see ball and man. Never, ever turn your back on your opponent (hard to defend if you don’t know where he is!)
- Shot Up = Hand Up: Contest every shot. Get a hand up when your opponent goes up to shoot. Don’t leave your feet until your opponent leaves his or until the ball is leaving his hands. Also make sure to jump straight up with arm straight up. Don’t swat or swing at the shot as this leads to foul calls.
- Block Out: When the shot does go up, get a body on your opponent to block him out and keep him off the boards. Giving up 2nd and 3rd shot opportunities only negates what might have been solid defense.
If you have any other tips for defenders when guarding the basketball, please share in the comments below.