NBA players call it D … the key to winning championships. Defense is the ability of a player to seize his opponent from getting and taking the ball to the basket. This is an excellent basketball skill that all players must learn. Optimum physical conditioning and strengthening are two major key to develop a strong and effective body built. In playing basketball, there will be lots of banging of the players’ bodies. You have to be equipped with a strong body to endure the heavy demands of the competition.

What is the importance of teaching your players how to execute proper defense? A player cannot just stand in front of a ball handler and expect to get that ball. It is not going to be that easy. Defense is a skill that needs to be practiced. Constant practice and execution of defensive drills help a player master the skill of defense. Oftentimes, coaches spend time with players, individually, to stress out special points in attaining a good defensive move.

There are several ways to teach players the art of defense:

  1. Emphasize the importance of Defense
    It is difficult to perform a certain task if you do not know the essence of what you are doing. Before you start to teach defense, emphasize its importance. This will serve as a guide for the players to play their heart out with a sense of purpose.
  2. Instill an attitude to Hustle
    Influence your players’ state of mind. Encourage them to establish the desire to win. There should be no room for players to relax. Emphasize, that when they are in the court, they should play real basketball, not fool around and take things easy. Boost your players self-confidence, and encourage them to hustle in every possession. At times, you have to push them to the limit to achieve their maximum potentials. Continue to keep their hopes up for them to maintain a high level of energy needed to sustain an effective defensive stop. Once the ball is thrown in mid-air, it can be anybody’s ball game. Players should always be prepared to get the ball back. This is what hustle attitude is all about.
  3. Give yourself a sense of purpose to defend
    This will give your players a sense of direction. Remind them about the major objective of the team. Of course, the goal will always be about winning. It should not stop there, so players should know and understand what it means to win. Winning is reaping your hard work. You do not go and get it. Instead, you go and play your best defense to deserve it. That is what it means to win. Players will be motivated to do defense if you constantly give them the ultimate purpose of defending.
  4. Institute transition play
    In cases of missed shots, steals, or any form of turnover, instruct your players to get back on defense. Even in situations that the rival team is able to score in a particular possession, your players must learn to re-group and get themselves back in their defensive positions. There are times that your opponents will try to do a quick inbound of the ball. If your players are not readily positioned, the opponents can possibly get through your players for an easy basket. Surely, you do not want that one to happen.
  5. Reinforce defensive stance
    At times, players seem to forget the basic stance of a defensive player. They seem to lose the energy to raise both arms up to prevent an opponent from passing, shooting, and receiving the ball. The consequence is that the opponent gets the chance to score a basket. Another thing is when players commit useless fouls due to a faulty defensive move. This is where coaches begin to get mad at their players. To maintain efficiency in defending, you should always reinforce the proper defensive stance.
  6. Remind your players to stay in front of their man
    There is no better chance of stopping an opponent than by staying in front of him, and blocking his way. It is not possible to defend, if you are in his back or his side. Think about it. Constantly remind your players and encourage them to keep an eye on their man. Wherever the opponent goes, your player should follow closely. There are some players who lose their concentration when someone always stands in their way. This is another advantage of staying in touch with your man. Your opponent may then have the tendency to be irritated, forcing him to commit mistakes.
  7. Teach your player to apply pressure defense
    In defending, players must not just stand in front of their opponents and raise their arms. Teach your player to create a very thin interval, or distance, between their opponent and themselves. This can prevent the opponent from getting enough space to catch and pass the ball around. Moreover, encourage your player to extend both arms, and try to grab, or tip, the ball out of the hands of the handler. Caution the player to minimize physical contact to avoid committing a foul.
  8. Instruct you players to always be ready
    A defender must be quicker to move to be successful in seizing an offender. You must instruct your players to be ready at all times. They must be able to anticipate the moves of their opponents. In addition, you must remind your players to focus their attention to where the ball is, and place their hands against it. The concept is: where the ball is, the hand follows.

Defense should not be taken for granted. You cannot shoot the ball if you do not have it. Offense begins with defense. True, as many may have called it that way. Players who hustle to take the ball demonstrate real passion of the game. Coaches recognize and appreciate players who have the heart to get and protect the ball, and the basket.

Picture credit: jeffkCreative Commons Attribution

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