A good defensive player wants to make his opponent work hard on offense. He also wants the offensive player to take bad or heavily challenged shots. If you can’t stop the opponent from scoring, it’s hard to win. Follow these 12 tips to become a dominant defensive player on the basketball court:
- Defensive Stance: Play defense in a good athletic stance; knees bent, light on feet, good balance, active hands. You’re always ready to move — and move quickly on defense. When guarding on the ball, you’re within an arm’s length of the ball.
- Communicate: A good defender talks to his teammates. Communicate screens, picks, shots, etc. Defense is all about teamwork.
- Limit Touches: When guarding off the ball, try not to let your opponent get the basketball. If your man doesn’t have the ball, he can’t score! Make your opponent work hard to get open. The harder he has to work, the more tired he will become. This will make it harder for him to get into a rhythm and harder to score.
- Do Not Foul: A foul is a mistake. If you foul your opponent, he may get free throws and may have to go sit down. Basically, you can look at fouls in this manner:
- Foul 1 – An offensive foul. If you’re aggressive on offense, you have to allow for this.
- Foul 2 – A defensive mistake. You will make at least one ‘mistake’ foul.
- Foul 3 – Official’s mistake. Referre’s are only human; chances are they will make a mistake.
- Foul 4 – You’re in foul trouble, therefore, coach makes you sit.
- Foul 5 – You have now fouled out of the game.
- Be Aggressive: Don’t let your opponent play you. Play your opponent. Make him worry about you and don’t let him get comfortable.
- On-the-Job Training: Learn your opponent throughout the course of the game. Detect his strengths and weaknesses and try to force him to his weaknesses. If he can’t dribble with the left hand, force him to his left. If he can’t shoot well but can drive, give a cushion. Learn the nuances of his game.
- Keep Your Feet: Don’t go for fakes. Watch his torso/midsection — nobody can fake with the chest and stomach.
- Box Out: Every single time.
- Belly Up: Get a hand up and contest all shots. You don’t have to attempt to block the shot, just make it as difficult as possible for him to make it.
- Force Into Weaknesses: Make your opponent put the ball in his weak hand. Don’t let him shoot from his favorite spots on the court.
- Be Patient: It’s a long game and it might be a close game. The difference between winning and losing could be one bad shot. Even if your opponent is scoring on you, make him work hard all night long. You never know when your hard work might pay off.
- Be a Threat on Offense: What does offense have to do with defense? Well, for half the game your man has to guard you. Make him play defense. Be active in moving without the ball. Run him into screens. Take him to the hoop. Many good shooters and offensive players don’t like to play defense and will even look to rest on the defensive end. Put the pressure on him; as he gets frustrated and tired, he’ll take bad shots, commit fouls, and make any variety of mistakes.
If you desire to be a great basketball player, you must play defense. As you can see from the list above, there is no great secret to playing defense. Just work hard and work smart!