The Combination Switch Defense can be quite advantageous against disciplined and deliberate offensive teams. These are the teams that run a patterned offense such as the flex, shuffle, etc. It also works against teams that run a motion or passing game and like to take time off the clock.
Basically, in The Combination Switch Defense, the defenders will play man-to-man defense for the first 3 or 4 passes. (The number of passes needs to be understood so all players switch at the same time). Once the offense has thrown their 4th pass, the defenders will switch and convert to playing a zone. The type of zone played is entirely up to you.
If the offense recognizes the switch and brings the ball back out to the top to reset into a zone offense, the defense can return to playing man-to-man for 3 or 4 more passes. The defense should communicate this switch by calling out a number (“3” — for the number of passes to play man-to-man) or by using any other word that will communicate a switch is being made.
As mentioned above, this works well against teams that employ either patterned offensive sets or that play motion-type sets with the objective to slow the game down and get good shots. This defensive strategy will not work as effectively against teams that play uptempo and look to attack the basket and/or take quick shots. Because of the man to zone conversion, there is a very brief moment when a player may be unguarded. A defender should be close by … and no one should ever leave the player with the basketball … but a team looking for quick scores might have an opening to score that a deliberate-type team would not find.
- Players should switch from man to zone and vice versa without leaving the player in their area. If their player is cutting through, let your teammates know. Communication is essential.
- Never leave the ballhandler. If you are guarding the ball when the switch is made, stay with it until he passes it. We don’t want to give up an open shot or easy penetration.
- Regardless if you predominantly play man-to-man or zone, make sure you practice both types of defense you will employ. It won’t do much good to switch into a zone only to give up an easy basket because players are out of position or unaware how to play it effectively.
- Have fun with this strategy! You may only choose to employ it a few times a game, which is my recommendation. I would not play this way for an entire game. I would throw it at the opponent during the game to simply create confusion and chaos. Simply by seeing what you’re doing a time or two, they won’t be sure what you’re going to do each time down the court!