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Coaching Basketball Defense: Top 12 Most Important Things To Emphasize On Defense

Dec 30, 2007
As a basketball coach, you've probably struggled to find enough time to teach everything that you want. It seems that all coaches have this problem!

To be an effective coach, you have to prioritize and strategically decide what you will emphasize. Coaching is all about what you emphasize!

If you do not continually harp and emphasize certain aspects, your defense will not be as good as it could be. You need to pay attention to detail and correct your players when needed.

To help determine your defensive priorities, we came up with the "top 12 most important things to emphasize on defense". Of course, every coaching situation is different, but hopefully this will give you a few ideas and help you determine what's really important.

Here is our list of the top things that we focus on and watch for within our man-to-man defense:

1. Always stop the player with the ball because that's the only person that can score. If the ball is in front of you, stop it!

2. Keep the ball out of the "danger zone" and as far from the basket as possible. We put tape marks 12 feet away from the basket to give players a visual reminder of where the ball should never be allowed. We call the area inside the tape the "danger zone".

3. Keep your knees bent and stay low. The second you see your players start to stand up, correct them. If they relax for one second, that's all it takes for the offense to score an easy bucket.

4. Intensity. Defense is all about intensity. If your players relax for a second, you need to get their attention.

5. Get back on defense. If your players don't get back on defense, it doesn't matter how good your half court defense is.

6. Deny all penetrating passes (included the post pass). Never allow passes into the post. The chances of the offense scoring increase dramatically once the ball is within the "Danger Zone."

7. Always see your man and the ball. Your players need to be focused so that they can see their man and the ball at all times. If somebody penetrates or passes the ball, they need to quickly help and rotate.

8. Move on the pass, not the catch. This tactic alone can literally double to quickness of your defense. Teach your players to start moving to their correct defensive positions when the ball is leaving the fingertips of the passer.

9. Provide early help and quick recovery. It's vital to any team's defense to have early help and quick recovery. If you do not have early help, you give up lay ups. If you do not have quick recovery, you give up open shots.

10. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! If your players don't communicate, they will have many problems with screens, rebounding, positioning, etc. Make sure they yell, "Shot" when the offense shoots the ball. Make sure they call out screens. Make sure they communicate help to their teammates.

11. Ball pressure and active hands. Without ball pressure, the offense can operate comfortably and easily. You never want the offense to feel comfortable. Not to mention, sagging to far back makes it easy for the offense to make accurate passes in the post area and pick you apart!

12. Box out. If your defensive players don't block out, all their hard work means nothing. They need to block out on every shot and every possession.
About the Author
Jeff Haefner is the owner of BreakthroughBasketball.com. To learn more about developing a tough defense, check out this Man to Man Basketball Defense System.
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