The following defensive tips and strategies will help you become a better individual defender. Better individual defenders = better team defense. Get after it!
Don’t be shy. A good defender communicates with teammates on the court.
- Move your feet.
It’s hard to be a good defender if you don’t move your feet.
- Stay between your man and the basket.
This is kind of the golden rule of defense. If you’re always behind your opponent, it’s hard to stop him.
- Get a hand up on all shots.
You don’t have to block every shot, but you do need to distract the shooter.
- Do not leave your feet on defense.
Only leave your feet once the offensive player has left his feet.
- Jump to the ball.
When your man passes the basketball, ‘jump’ in the direction of the pass so he can’t cut straight past you to the basket.
- Understand that most offensive players favor one side.
They favor one hand, one direction, and even one side of the court. Force them to their weakness.
- ‘Stand up’ the cutter.
Do not move out of the path of a cutter. Hold your ground and make him go a different direction.
- Utilize your help.
Some coaches want to force baseline and some want to force middle. Regardless of your team defensive philosophy, force your player to the direction of your help.
- Make defensive fakes.
Be an aggressive defender. Passive defenders aren’t very good defenders.
- Play as tough as the officials will allow.
Each officiating crew will call game’s differently. Understand early in the game how they are calling it and play accordingly.
- Call for help if you are in a mismatch situation.
If you switch defensively and find yourself in a mismatch situation, e.g. small guarding big or big guarding small, communicate that you need help.
- Talk to your opponent.
You don’t need to talk trash. That is often ridiculous and can simply light a fire under some players. I’m talking more about just being annoying. Be a pest.
- Keep your opponent out of the lane.
Whether you’re guarding the perimeter or the post, keep your opponent out of the scoring area that is the lane.
- Know who you are guarding.
When you come into the game, know who you are guarding. There is no excuse for not knowing. Always make sure that you ask the teammate you are replacing who he/she was guarding.
- Be in shape.
Work hard in the offseason, in practice, in the weight room … be in better shape than your opponent.
- If you lose your man, find him.
To find him, go to a spot directly between him and the basket. Don’t follow him to where he is … make a straight line and get to him.
- Do not cross your feet.
As mentioned above, you want to move your feet. It’s hard to move if you’re all tangled up!
- Get back on defense!
When your team loses possession, get back on defense. No excuses!
- Take pride in your defense!