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Basketball Defense Drills are The Least Mentioned but Very Important

The idea is not to block every shot.  The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot." Bill Russell


Ben Wallace (aka "Big Ben") is neither a scorer like Duncan or Garnett, nor is he a dramatic passer with the vision of Nash.  He can't shoot or pass, but no one has ever questioned his value when he was in the Pistons.  What makes him worthwhile is his shot-blocking, defensive rebounding, and fearsome presence inside the paint  (See how he ripped Shaqdaddy apart when Big Ben "counter-facial" him in the playoffs, Shaq's ego and confidence took a huge blow from that "Rejection-a-da-Year", I tell ya). In fact, an ace-defender can send chills down the spine of a star-scorer on fire, turning a hot-hand into a freezing one.   In a sense, good defense is even more important than offense. Occasionally, you just don't manage to sink the basket. But you can rely on good defense because effort and attitude is the foundation of good defense.

You have to play defense with your head as well as your body. Offensive players are often instinct and habit-driven in the spur of their attacking moment. If they like driving to the right, or shoot at their favorite spots, you can expect them to do the same thing quite frequently. If you can read your opponent's tendencies, you can shut them down both physically and mentally.


Ball-less Offender

Pardon my language, but I can't resist it. When your opponent does not have the ball, you should be doing the following.


  • - You should be always facing him but ready to block him out of the paint

  • - At least partly blocking his way towards the basketball hoop

  • - Put yourself close to the invisible track between him and the basketball.


  • - Hands should be widely spread on the side to increase horizontal coverage

  • - Place your hands forward so that you can reach to intercept or strip the ball on sight


Your eye movement should follow a cycle with roughly 6 seconds intervals.  Your eyes should repeat those movements continuously until they regain the possession of the basketball.

  • - The first three seconds, stare intently into your opponent's eyes, this is a mind game to intimidate your opponent

  • - The fourth second, scan the position of the ball-handler and cover the passing lane

  • - The fifth second, return to your stare to your defender to reinforce the tension in his mind

  • - The sixth second, skim the surroundings for possible screens and position

Defending an opponent without the ball is just as important. Defenders want to position themselves between the ball and the defender, where at the same time, he has total awareness of where the ball and his guy is. Too often, defensive players lose track of where their assigned offensive player is on the court. This happens because they're watching only the movement of the ball, not their player.

Position yourself to see the ball and their player without turning your head.

Have your hand point towards the ball and the other at your assigned player.

You must adjust position as often as the location of the ball and your assigned player.

Pre Dribble

Pre-Dribble Stage

When your opponent has caught the ball, he is most dangerous because he is in a triple threat position. In this case, you should:

  • - Assume your defensive stance. Bent your knees and keep your hands out. Reaching in is a lazy way to play and often results in a foul. You are putting yourself off-balance and forcing your teammates to leave their players to cover yours. Instead, keep your knees bent and concentrate on containing your opponent.

  • - Pay attention to his mid-torso.  A good offensive player uses his limbs, eyes, head to fake you out.  Yet, the human anatomy makes it difficult for them to perform a fake movement with the mid-torso

  • - Anticipate where your opponent is going and get a head start. Use your hand to prevent any passing route for your man.

  • - If you know you have a tall shot guarding teammate behind you, you should pressure your opponent more closely. You should call pick and listen at the same thing. Things such as screen left, help behind you is common call within the court.


Dribble Stage

When your opponent is dribbling, he can still pass and shoot. If he is both quicker than you and a marksman. Depending if you have help behind you. If there is help, it is better to stick close to him even though he might dribble pass you.

  • - Baseline is your friend, force him towards the baseline.
  • - Keep your left foot forward. You want to take away your opponent's strongest dribbling hand. Focus on concentrating on his right hand and force him to use his weak hand.
  • - Visualize a dribbler going to the left side of the floor. You want to be ahead of the ball handler by a half step, so if he turned to go toward the basket, you would be taking a charge.
  • - If he is quicker than you, take a step back. Concentrate on containing him.
  • - If he is a sharp shooter within range, stay close to him with your hands up.


Post-Dribble Stage

At this point, he may only move his pivot foot, pass or shoot. Remember you are allowed to jump straight up legally. If you lean towards your guy, the referee is more likely to call a foul.

  • - If the inside man is much taller than you, you will have to figure when he will catch the ball and quickly strip away from him.

  • -If an offensive player in the corner gets the ball, you have to hustle around to the baseline side and prevent a quick pass from the corner for an easy lay up.

  • - Most blocks come when big men help out their guards and forwards. It is easier to reach to the right side of a player with your left hand, instead of torquing your body to get to the ball with your stronger right hand.

  • - Stand firm in the paint. Keep a hand or forearm on his back and one arm straight up.

  • - After a shot is released. Don't assume it will go in, always box out to avoid offensive rebound

Block shot - The center is almost always a team's blot shot leader...

Steal ball -  Stripping, intercepting and stealing from a dribbler...

Post defense - When offensive player posts up a defender...

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