Now enough with all the offensive stuff… let’s get into an equally as important feature of the sport of basketball. Defence! It’s often said that good offence is built on the back of good defence and that’s why it’s important to master the art of defending whether it’s individually or as a team. One thing to understand early on though is that defence is primarily built on effort and attitude rather than natural ability. Therefore, there’s no reason at all for not training hard on your defence. Being a constantly changing and flexible feature of basketball, we aren’t going to go through step by step instructions of how to defend. Rather, we will include our guide on what involves good defence, with a few helpful tips along the way!
First, we’ll take a look at individual defence. A major part of this is your stance. A typical quality defensive stance when your opponent has the ball involves being crouched down in a low position with your feet spread apart. This will increase your area of base of support and therefore your stability. Ultimately this improves your balance, meaning the movements off your offensive opponent won’t affect your stance as it would if you were standing up straighter with feet close together. When following their movements there are two key principles to follow. Try to keep your nose in line with their dribbling elbow. This will give you good access to the ball as well as giving you a position to base your defence off rather than becoming lost. The other aspect of responding to their movement involves ensuring that your steps are small and with “quick feet” rather than longer slower strides.
In terms of hand positioning, it may vary a bit depending on scenarios. A good base to work off is to make yourself as wide as possible. Do this through stretching your arms laterally, meaning your arms can potentially block their passing lanes. When looking to be more aggressive on defence, placing your hand above or even on the ball can apply added pressure on an opponent, forcing a rushed shot or pass. However, this does open yourself up to being taken on. This ability to decide how to defend will be something that you will develop over time, getting exposure to different opponents and scenarios. A further aspect of defending to highlight is that the sideline and baseline should be used as an extra defender. Where possible, shape your stance so that it directs your opponent towards the sideline, leaving yourself covering the middle area of the court.
In terms of defending as a team it’s simply based on how the coach wants to defend. It’s always important to follow the coach’s orders and do your best to communicate whilst out on the court. Constant communication between players makes things much easier out there, allowing the group to feel on the same page even when the going gets tough. There is a lot going on during a game of basketball, so being able to talk on the court is key! Ultimately, defending must be given the equal amount of respect that offence gets. Being a good defender shows great versatility and is something which coaches love to utilise. The more people you can practice defence on the better, so get out there and start defending!