Slogans such as “A good offense is the best defense,” “Out score your opponent,” and “They can’t score when you have possession of the ball” are all true. However, defense is the dominant ingredient of winning basketball. Offensive basketball has progressed at such a rapid rate with the addition of the 3-point shot that players sometimes forget the value of strong defense. It is impossible to shut out your opponent, but it IS possible to eliminate the cheap basket. Defense, if it’s good, is unlike offense in that it is quite stable. We all have had nights when we could not put the ball in the basket. This is a variable of offense, while our defense will not change. Even on a poor offensive night, we can play good defense that might turn the tide of the battle.
Good defense takes KNOW HOW and GUTS. HUSTLE. HUSTLE. HUSTLE – NEVER GIVE UP!
Pressure the Ball. Force the player with the ball to dribble or turn away from the basket. Never allow a good player to handle the ball without some pressure or your defense will get torn apart. Make the other team uncomfortable – don’t let them run their favorite plays or get the ball where they want it.
Be prepared to help when not guarding the ball. Your teammate will not pressure the ball unless there is confidence that there will be help on a drive to the basket. Plug up the center of the court.
Guard the best shooters relentlessly. Most teams have only two good shooters, and nearly all teams have one non-shooter in the starting lineup. Keep track of the good shooters and make them work to catch the ball.
Reduce your opponents’ number of shots. Many offenses are based on the theory “take enough shots and the percentages will take care of themselves.” They shoot the ball and go after the rebound. To defeat good teams, limit the number of attempts at the basket.
Eliminate offensive rebounds. Again, the highest percentage shot in basketball is the rebound put back. Eliminate second shots – block out.
Force your opponent to shoot a poor percentage shot. Make the offensive team take a hurried shot. Most teams will shoot the ball within three passes. Be aggressive and relentless on the basketball, and don’t let good shooters have the ball. Most players shoot the basketball better standing than moving, or only like to go one way. Make them take shots they don’t like.
Eliminate the cheap baskets. Every giveaway costs your team four points – the two your opponent scores, plus the two you lost. Take care of the ball on offense, hustle back on defense, block your player off the boards, and stay mentally alert 100% of the time. Be prepared to help your teammates when your player does not have the ball. Play as a team!
Prevent the ball from going in to the post. When the ball gets inside to the other team’s post, you are in trouble! It’s a high percentage shot for the other team, there’s a good chance of fouling, and there are lots of passing lanes. If you are not guarding the post position, help your teammate who is guarding the post player by keeping hands in passing lanes to prevent easy passes. If the ball gets into the post, drop down and help but be certain to be in position to prevent the post from kicking the ball out to your man at the three line.