Every basketball player dreams of being the big scorer and making the important shots for the team. Scoring is definitely an important part of the game. Any player that makes it to a high level can score. But there are many other little things that are less noticeable but are part of every great player’s game.
Many of these things happen on defense. There isn’t much glory to be had on defense in basketball. The best it gets is blocking a shot or taking a charge but these are things that don’t happen all that often. But there is nothing more important in basketball than good consistent defense. In any tryout, one of things coaches are looking for is the player who cares about defense and give her all on every play. Fans may not notice good defense from the stands, but coaches are looking out for it. A good defender is a good team player and a good person to have around. If you’re looking to make yourself more valuable, working on your defense is a good place to start.
Fundamentals of Defense
The first thing to think about when it comes to defense is your footwork. A good defender slides his feet. In order to stay in front of the player you are defending, you need to use lateral movement. You should always be one step ahead of the offensive player. The second you get behind him is the second he gets the ball and scores. So a good defender slides her feet to stay in front of the player she is guarding whether she has the ball or not.
Playing the Ball or Playing Off the Ball
When you are defending the player with the ball, you play a little bit differently than when you’re defending off the ball. When you’re defending the player with the ball, your first priority is to make sure he doesn’t dribble past you. A good rule of thumb is to focus on the player’s waist so the jukes he may make don’t confuse you. This way you can stay in front of him.
But it’s not enough just to slide your feet. You want to keep your hands out in order to be ready to block passes. If you know the strong hand of the player you are guarding, you can try to push them the opposite way. A right-handed player may have trouble making a move to the left. If you cut off the right, you may be able to make the player think twice about driving to the hoop.
Guarding Off the Ball
Guarding off the ball is a bit different. Instead of focusing only on the offensive player you are guarding, you need to have your head on a swivel and be aware of the entire court. You still need to be in front of your man, but you need to be looking for a pass coming your way, or another player coming over to set a screen. And it’s good to have a hand in the passing lane to protect against passes coming through.
Boxing out is a little celebrated skill in basket but it’s one of the most important. You need to be boxing out on every single shot. If the person you’re guarding has a clear lane to the basket to grab the rebound, you haven’t done your job. In order to box out properly, you need to get your backside into the offensive player when the shot goes up and slide your feet so he can’t get around you. If you do this properly, then grabbing the rebound is the easy part.
You may not get the credit you deserve for playing good defense, but you always have a place on the team if you can be a top defender.