BASKETBALL DEFENSE FUNDAMENTALS
by James Druman
While those successful goals are the most telling indicator when you are winning a basketball game, any true champion knows that a good team's success often lies in their defense. Your ability to prevent rebounds and limit turnover is an invaluable asset in any game and a team without defensive tactics will never be the best. Let's look at some of the basics you should work on to be a great defending player.
The first thing any player should learn when it comes to defense is perfecting their stance. The solid stance begins by maintaining just over a shoulder-width distance between your two feet and resting on the balls of your feet. If someone pushes on you, you should not sway or move at all—your balance should be solid and evenly distributed.
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Keep you knees bent, arms out, elbows bent, and palms up. Keep your head up as well, and direct your attention towards the level of the opposing player's stomach, as this is a great center for reading and anticipating movement.
While the heads, eyes, shoulders, or limbs can often be used to distract you or fake you out, the midsection rarely lies.
Your head should not move too much when in this stance—learn how to look out of the corners of your eyes for what is going on. Peripheral vision is a valuable asset for a solid basketball player.
Develop a good defensive slide, moving your feet sideways with quick short steps while staying in stance. Common mistakes players make is moving up out of their defensive position during a slide, leaning in the direction of slides, or crossing their feet—all moves that put you off balance and leave you unprepared.
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When you are on the ball, your obvious goal is to keep it from traveling any further. Defense specifics will vary from team to team, depending on coaching, but your main goal is to stop it.
There are many ways to satisfy the goal. Often, what we want to do is direct opposing players off of the court and towards the out of bounds area if possible, once they are stuck in a corner, you and other players can try to keep them there until a 5 second call.
At all times, focus on restricting them from moving forward to their goal, but don't put so much energy into this that you forget to just stay on them at all times. After all, covering and staying on the player is more crucial than limiting court penetration.
Learn to use an opposing player's disadvantages against them. Players will often drive to one side or the other, in favor of their stronger hand (right or left), but you can keep them on their toes by forcing them to play their weaker side. Learn to change your position to keep them going where they do not want to go.
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Properly staying on an offensive player is all about confusing them and restricting their movement while going with their movement when it is inevitable. It is a balance.
Another crucial element of defense is knowing when you lost your player and compensating for that. Learn to signal or alert other players on your team when this happens, and then run back to your opponent as fast as possible to resume your defensive position. Never give up and stop when they get away.
There is a lot more to proper defense than this, but these are some good points to keep in mind. Never forget that a good offense will never be good enough to win alone—they may win a lot of games between two mediocre teams, but when it comes to the wins that count, they will always come up short.
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