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Using Concealed Defense Strategies in Basketball

Mar 15, 2008
There is nothing more embarrassing to a basketball coach than to spend an entire game attacking a man-for-man defense - then learn the opponents used a zone. Those coaches who have been in the game for any length of time will probably recall just such an affair. The object of concealing the defense is to confuse the opponents so they will attack with the least appropriate offense.

There are those who may think this should never happen. Possibly it shouldn't, but it has happened and it will happen even more in the future. The trends in modern basketball defense are revolutionary. The days when you can scout an opponent and prepare for one defense are over. During the heat of a contest and the bedlam of noise created in some gymnasiums, the players are often the least reliable people to determine the opponent's defense.

If the concealment works for only two or three minutes during some crucial stage of the game, it may well be enough to turn the tide. Close games have been turned into a rout in this manner.

One game was observed where the score was tied 29-29 at the half. The home team had used a man-for-man defense the entire first half. The second half they used a 2-1-2 zone with pressing tactics at mid-court and verbal signals to give the illusion of man-for-man play. The opponents were confused, hesitant, and quite frustrated for about five minutes. That five minutes served its purpose. The final score was 78-50.

If you use concealing tactics and they are successful, don't let your opponent know what you used when the game is over. There is a great temptation for the coach to exhibit his sagacity. The boys are tempted to tease the opponents a bit about their inability to recognize your defense. Do a good job of conditioning your players so this won't happen.

Of course, you want to be genial and visit with your opponent after the game. If you do any talking about tactics of the game just played, talk in general terms - don't give specific information. Throw up a smoke screen. If possible, confuse them even more because you will play them again that year or another year. If you concealed your defense successfully, encourage them to think they attacked your defense in the correct manner.

Here is one of the simpler ways to conceal a defense. Tell your players in the dressing room that any verbal defensive changes you make from the bench are to be ignored. At the first time out when the gymnasium is fairly quiet, yell "zone" or "man-for-man" in a loud voice.

Of course, this would indicate a different defense from the one you are using. One of the opponents will be a real smart boy (if they don't have at least one smart boy, it won't work), and he will scurry around warning his teammates of your defensive change of plans.

Their team will then come down the floor prepared to attack the defense you have called. If your boys do a good job of making the defense you are actually using look like the one you have called, the opposition will be confused for at least two or three offensive plays. Those two or three plays might make the difference.

Concealed defenses can become much more elaborate and complex. They have to become more complex in order to be effective over a sustained period of time. They take good planning and hard work. Scouting information is absolutely necessary.

One such plan is the change from one defense to another by floor position of the ball. For instance, if an opponent uses a single post offense, use a zone defense every time a pass is made to one of their forwards. Otherwise- remain in a man-to-man. This means you will be in a man-to-man defense when the ball goes to the pivot or middle area. It means you will be in man-to-man from mid-court and until a pass goes to one of the corner positions.

Employ the method of concealed defense and you may turn the tide of you game. It's worth a try!
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