Defense is a very important and occasionally overlooked component of the game. It doesn’t have the glory of scoring points, or magnificent showboating slam dunks, but it does make or break a game. What people do not realize is that without defense, the game would essentially be a boring back and forth scoring festival where you know exactly where the points would be. With a defence involved you really never know what is going to happen next.
Conditioning is one of the first elements that a defensive player should work and work hard on. Playing defense at the start of the game is one thing, but being in good enough shape to play that same defense by the end of the game makes the difference between good and great players. Things like proper diet, aerobics and light weight training will go a very long way in extending your endurance and providing you with the battery life that you’ll require!
Knowing yourself goes a long way. While every player has strengths and works on them to keep them in tip top shape, it takes a unique and special player to identify and admit their weak points, and work on those. Weak points will never improve unless you work on them. If you find yourself winded as the game goes on, aerobics and cardio are going to be a focal point for you.
Variety is another weapon of the team defence. If your team always plays the same defense, opposing teams will identify it and find ways to easily beat it and score. Where adding in new formations, switching player’s to different positions and just shaking things up will go a very long way in keeping an offense guessing as to what you are up to.
When you are defending a player one of the most underutilized tools are a player’s hands. Get those hands up when a shot is being made as the slightest touch can alter a balls trajectory and send it just enough off course to cause a shot to miss, or even cause the ball to come into your team’s possession.
Listen to your teammates and listen often. Communication is crucial with teammates, and they will often tell you the information that you need to know, even if you can’t see it. They will be your eyes, so trust them! Also on the sidelines be open and talk with your teammates, someone may have noticed something about the other teams tendencies that may give your team the upper hand, and without communication would just go unnoticed.
One final point to help hone your defensive game and help improve it is the use of fakes. While players on offense frequently fake, players on defense do not utilize fakes as often as they should. Faking an offensive player can force him to make an unplanned move and can cause the offensive plan to go out the window. This can cause mistakes and miscommunication and open a window for the defence to get the ball!
Photo credit: brookenovak
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