If you’d like to improve your basketball defense, force more turnovers, take your opponent out of their offensive rhythm and limit their opportunities for high percentage shots, then you’ll enjoy this article.
These 8 critical rules are based on 2-time NBA coach of the year Hubie Brown’s defensive philosophy. They apply to teams of all levels, from youth basketball, to high school, to college and even the pros.
After you read these tips, let me know if you agree or disagree by submitting your feedback in the comments box below!
1. Keep The Ball Out of the Middle
When guarding a dangerous offensive player, you’re either going to trap or you’re going to force the dribbler high — but you cannot allow him to turn the corner. If you’re going to force him, force him baseline — do not allow him to get into the lane. Letting a dribbler into the lane opens up the floor and allows that dribbler too many passing and shooting options.
Train your players to steer dribblers to the baseline, where the out of bounds line acts as an extra defender, and it’s more difficult to make shots from behind the backboard.
2. Exploit Weak Ballhandlers
You cannot allow a big man to take the ball uncontested from half court. You must cut him off at the circle. He is most likely a weak ball-handler and you should take the opportunity to force a turnover.
3. Maintain Contact in the Post
When you’re defending a post player, never turn your back on him to pick up a cutting player. You should jump out and “hedge” the cutter (ie. stop his cut by putting your body in the way, and prevent him from cutting along the path he wants to go), but keep contact with the post player so you don’t lose him.
4. Never Foul a Jump Shooter
Never give a player a higher percentage shot than the field goal he’s already taking! For example, if a player is taking a tough fade-away shot from behind the backboard, don’t foul him and give him an easy shot (ie. a free throw instead).
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The Individual Defense drillbook is packed with simple practice ideas to install top-notch defensive fundamentals into every player on your team.
You'll learn how to shut down driving lanes, push post players out of their comfort zone, close out on shooters and force your opponents into taking low percentage shots.
5. Help on Back Screens
Any time the ball goes to the wing and a back screen is set by the center or forward or the point guard, someone must help him out.
6. Only Front the Post When Necessary
If you front the low post or gamble for a steal, the other team will likely get a layup. So make sure it’s worth it and you have a high percentage chance to force a turnover or keep the ball out of their best player’s hands.
7. Jam the Passer
You cannot front a great post-up player unless you also jam the passer. The more pressure there is on the passer, the less chance he has to make an accurate lob pass into the post. If you are fronting the post and don’t jam the passer, a good passer will be able to deliver that lob pass easily, and the post will have an easy layup.
8. Turn the Ballhandler
Whenever possible, make the ball change direction. This tires out ballhandling guards and disrupts the rhythm of their offense.
Here are some additional articles to illustrate defensive concepts that should be a primary focus during practice:
- 3 Schemes to Shut Down the Pick and Roll
- How to Stop a Dominant Post Scorer
- Zone Defense – Playing the Skip Pass
- Keys to a Successful 1-3-1 Zone Defense
If you’d like to learn more tips on basketball defense, please visit my basketball defensive drills page, where you’ll discover some brand new, wickedly effective practice ideas and tips for improving your team.
Or if you’re ready to get your team on the fast track, check out the Team Defense and Individual Defense drillbooks. They’re packed with simple, fun and effective drills for basketball defense, and you can download them directly to your computer, print them out, or save them to your mobile device.