Coach Jamie has extensive international coaching and playing experience and has come to be regarded as one of the best basketball coaches in Sydney. He is now in charge of City Hoops & Easts Basketball Junior development and coaching programs. Each month I will be bringing you a coaching tip to improve your game.
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Much of the focus of defense is on the individual positioning of the players; defending the ball, denying the wing, boxing out. Today we will take a quick look at some key team concepts that should help you on the defensive end of the court.
1. Pressure the attacking players:
The first thought on defense should be dictating the play to the offence. We often see teams sit back and let the offence take the lead by running their plays and defenders remain in a read and react mindset. One of the most effective strategies is to attack the offence, disrupt the plays they want to run and push them into areas of the court they do not want to go to.
A simple but effective strategy is to deny the ball to the main offensive player. Start with the point guard, as he or she will normally be charged with initiating the offensive set. Prevent them from getting to the ball for as long as possible. Make them feel rushed and out of sync with their team and you will test the resolve of the offence and the mental strength of the players on the court.
A good defensive team forces the offense to react to them. Forcing the offense to play your style is the first step in becoming a better defensive team.
2. Help your team-mates:
Constant vigilance and use of your peripheral vision is crucial to becoming a better defensive team. Always know where the ball is on the court. Pointing one hand in the direction of the ball and the other at the player you are marking can help keep you balanced and aware on defense. It is the team’s job to defend the ball and the basket. Knowing where the ball is and being able to help your team mates stop the ball getting to the basket makes dribble penetration more of a challenge for the offence. Knowing you are expected to help out at any time keeps players vigilant and aware on the defensive end of the court. It also builds team spirit!
Talking can be the most unifying way for a team to work as a single unit. Clear, concise and effective communication between defenders can make it seem like individual players have eyes in the back of their head. The defensive unit can see all directions on the court and if they communicate smartly they can make players aware of picks, cuts, set plays and more.
You are a group with a common goal, effective communication helps you to act like it. Simple things like “screen right or left” make the on the ball defender more aware. “Helping you right/left”, this gives team-mates confidence and may also make the offence reconsider their planned movements.
Once everyone works on the same wavelength and that they are supporting each other in a common goal, confidence increases, as does the flow and chemistry of the team.
Build your defense on the principles of pressure, help and communication. If your team commit to this, you will act as one defensive group. The confidence and flow of your team play will improve on both ends of the court.
Thanks for reading and happy defending.