“Defense wins championships”, is one of those cliché sports phrases that any athlete might hear hundreds of times repeated by coaches, parents and fans. Nowadays, with the high-level talent and athleticism developing at the young age, offense seems to take priority because, let’s face it, it’s a necessity to be able to do everything like shoot from deep, off the dribble, handle the rock, play different positions, etc. This article, however, is about defense and the five (5) major factors that create successful team defense.

  • Positioning
  • On-Ball Pressure: Defending the player with the ball is a good start in eliminating open shots, taking away easy passes or driving lanes. Remember not to over-pressure the ball where you get beat off the dribble easy. Sink your hips, have active hands and slide your feet!
  • Off-Ball/Help Side: If you are defending off-ball and are one pass away, you want to have a hand in the passing lane. Not glued to your defender’s hip and not laying off. Split the difference between ball and man, unless your defending the post where than I would suggest quarter fronting from baseline side forcing middle. But that’s just me.
  • Communication

One man cannot stop five. No way, no how. Being apart of a team is about that chemistry and building that trust. One of the best ways to build trust is talking and communicating. Reminding each other and holding each other accountable. Calling out screens and switches, yelling “Ball! Ball! Ball!” or “I got help”. Communication makes everything easier and can also be an intimidation factor towards weaker teams.

  • Rotations

What do I mean by rotations? I’ll tell you. When the ball is being passed around like the Golden State Warriors it forces defenses and defenders to rotate and react. Players have to closeout on shooters and inevitably will be beaten off the dribble forcing other players out of their position to stop ball for an open shot. That leaves other players and the original defender guarding the ball to scramble and rotate to the open player. Communication helps with this too.

  • Strategy

It always helps, when applicable, to be able to throw different defensive looks at teams. Having an arsenal of various zones and traps, along with the reliable man-to-man can confuse offenses and give you an edge.

  • Boxing out
  • Rebounding

The defensive battle is not won until you secure the rebound! It is heartbreaking and game-changing to give up offensive rebounds for multiple possessions to score, especially when they do. Rebounding requires physicality and determined attitude. You need to make contact with a man, box out, and attack the ball off the glass/rim. Don’t wait for it to bounce your way. Go get it!

Coach Alex