Master the Art of Basketball Defense

Everyone that has participated in competitive team sports has heard the old saying, “The best offense is a good defense”. Basketball is no different. A well planned, methodical basketball defense can be the difference between the coach saying, “Well guys, we always have next season” or having a championship banner made in your honor.Basketball players are often times showcased as individuals for their offensive talents. However, a basketball team’s defensive players are glorified in their accomplishments as a single unit.

Why is Defense Important?

In the eyes of the coaching staff, a good defense is paramount to building a winning team. Unfortunately, describing on a piece of paper how to build a solid defense and actually doing it are two entirely different things.

To form a successful defensive unit, coaches have to get a group of players to work together in a completely unified way.Defensive players have to develop agility, strength, and at times even appear to have extra sensory perception in communicating with each other, as they move the ball up and down the court.

Check out this video of NBA legend Scottie Pippen. Arguably one of the best defenders of all time!

Challenges to Building a Solid Basketball Defense

Even if you study defense for years, it can still be difficult to execute it on the court. Players face a lot of challenging circumstances during the game and most of the time, they don’t even realize that this is playing a role in how they perform. Here are just a few challenges that can interrupt a player’s defensive abilities:

  • The players engage in high impact movements affecting important bones, joints, and muscle areas of the body.
  • The body experiences dehydration from excessive sweating and lack of water and electrolyte deficiency.
  • The crowd noise in some arenas can be deafening, and can certainly make it hard, with the other two variables to maintain balance.
  • A good offensive player will always seek to throw you off balance. If you lose your balance for even a brief moment, the offensive player has you beat, leaving the responsibility of your guard to a teammate.

How Do You Build Defensive Skills?

Just like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. To become a better defensive player there are several key areas you should be focusing on during drills.

Don’t Lunge – It might be your first instinct to lung towards the ball, but you can quickly lose your balance. If the player that you guard is skilled, he may leave you lying on the court.

Change your stance – Make a stance that’s wide and low. A low and broad center of gravity will help you maintain your balance in fast-moving situation.

Shuffle carefully – When shuffling around the court, keep your feet from making contact with each other. This could cause you to have a hard fall, possibly resulting in an injury.

Keep your hands up – As the defender, keep your hand in a position that is moderately above the ball so that the offensive player can’t be given opportunity for a “clear shot”.

Get your hands on the ball – To keep a “clear shot” from occurring, attempt to put your hand on the ball. The same can be said about the ball being above your head, put your hand under the ball to remove the ball in the reverse manner.

Keep your head in the proper position – This will usually, but not always, be beneath the offensive player. Staying beneath the opponent may give you the upper hand when the play starts moving at a faster pace, due to what was mentioned earlier about center of gravity.

With a lot of hard work and practice, you can build up your defensive techniques and become more effective on the court. Give it 100% and keep working even when it’s hard. It will pay off in big dividends on game day!