Utilize the 8 team defense techniques and concepts below to help your team work together as a cohesive defensive unit. Defense does win and getting 5 defenders to play together can make your team dominant on the defensive end of the basketball court. Follow these concepts, but also emphasize them to your players.
- Get Better
Playing defense is not a sometime thing. Effort and execution is required by everyone … one mistake and the team defense can fall apart, allowing the offense to score. Get better every day in every drill and in every game.
All 5 defenders must rebound. That means all 5 players must block out on each and every shot. If you give up too many offensive rebounds, you will lose.
- Change Defenses
It doesn’t matter if you’re a man-to-man team or a zone team, you must have the ability to change defenses once in awhile. Against certain opponents, this may be a necessity. Maybe an opposing team is much quicker but they don’t shoot well from the perimeter. A zone might be an effective switch. Maybe you normally play a 1-3-1 zone but you decide to mix in a man-to-man from time to time to confuse the opponent. Maybe you simply want to mix it up and change defenses during dead-ball situations. Again, be great at what you do defensively but spend some time on other defenses or wrinkles within your main defense to create some confusion for your opponent.
- Take It Away
Game plan to take something away from the opponent. Focus on what they do in their early offense, out of bounds play, and half court sets. For instance, if they normally start their offense with a pass to the wing, try to take away that wing-entry pass. Most teams start their sets in very specific ways … work to take away what they want to do.
- Pinch & Block
When the opponent is shooting a free throw, you are still on defense. Make sure your players realize that concept! Pinch their key rebounder with two of your rebounders and be sure to block out the shooter.
- Switch with Purpose
Some coaches teach to switch everything, some teach to never switch, and some teach to switch only when absolutely necessary. If you switch everything or when necessary, this concept pertains to you. If you are going to switch make sure the players are aware of what to do in the various situations. They should also switch with the purpose of taking something away — hence the reason for switching. Switch to force the cutter away from the goal, or to force the dribbler out high, etc. Just make sure the players communicate and do not run away from the player they were defending, which will leave another player free.
- Early Pick-Up
If you play a lot of fullcourt pressure defense, you are already picking up early. If you don’t play a lot of fullcourt defense, you can and should mix in picking up early to disrupt your opponent. You can make a call and pick up early after a made basket / free throw or any dead ball situation. You can even throw in a quick trap to force a turnover. You can do a lot of things here to mix it up without straying from your overall team defense philosophy.
I like to use the term “shutdown” when I want my team to play tough, hard-nosed, pressure defense. Of course I always want my team to play pressure defense, but sometimes we all need the “shutdown” reminder. Regardless of any terminology you might use, you should always play pressure defense. Put pressure on the dribblers, on the passes, on the catches … have good helpside defense. Don’t just sit back and let your opponent move and pass at will. Put the pressure on them!
Are there any other team defense techniques and concepts we should be emphasizing to our players? Share and discuss in the comments below!
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