How to be a Better Basketball Defender

6 Jun

Basketball-Pressure-Defense[1]I’ve heard it said that offense wins games, but defense wins championships.  Your shots may or may not be falling, on any given day, but defense shouldn’t be susceptible to slumps.  And while you have to score to win, I can tell you this with certainty:  If you can make it difficult for your opponent’s offense to operate and score, and limit their opportunities, you’ll always be in the game.

Defense may not be as glamorous as scoring lots of points, but there’s nothing more important — and gratifying — than being a “shut-down” defender.  Here are some basketball defensive tips to help you become a better defender:

Keep your balance. Maintain a low, athletic stance with a wide base (don’t let your feet get too close together or crossed).  Your weight should be over your mid-foot — avoid being back on your heels.  Stay on your feet… don’t go for shot fakes.

Move your feet.  Don’t reach or lean.  Playing defense with your hands invites foul calls against you.  Anticipate the offensive player’s move and beat them to the spot.

Watch your opponent’s chest, and not their head, feet, or the ball.  They can try to deceive you with a jab step or ball fake, but their chest will always tell you where they are going.

Get a hand in your opponent’s face.  Distract them from focusing on their shot or pass.

“Force” them where you want them to go.  Understand your defensive strategy and where your help is coming from.  As a rule, position yourself between the person you’re guarding and the basket, especially on the perimeter.  Take away your opponent’s dominant hand.  Most players can’t use both hands equally, so you usually want to force them to go to the hand they don’t want to. Overplay their strong hand to make them use their weak hand.

See the person you’re guarding and the ball, at all times.  Position yourself appropriately.  Be ready to help.

Observe your opponent’s patterns and trends.  Learn and understand what they like to do — their “go-to” moves — in certain situations.

No open looks or layups.  Actively defend every dribble, pass, and shot.

Communicate with your teammates.  Always talk on defense.  Call out screens and switches.  Basketball defense is played as a team.

Box out and rebound.  Limit your opponent’s second chances.

Hustle at all times.  Defense is about effort.  You’ve got to give 100% effort when you’re on the court.


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