Players from teams that have won the NBA championship say the same thing when asked what it took them to become champions. They often say, “Defense wins titles.” Many players love the razzle dazzle of scoring in bunches, but fail to see the importance of giving a lot of effort on the defensive end.
Intensive Basketball Camp and coaches from high school boys’ basketball camps noted that young players must learn and continuously implement the fundamentals of defense. Here are some ways to become a better defensive player:
On the Ball
One way to make it difficult for the offensive player is to over-guard their strong side. If the opposing player is left-handed, over-guard the left and force them to go right. Keep one of your feet a little bit in the direction of the baseline as this provides enough position and time to react when the opponent makes a move. Force the player to the baseline, as this is the ideal place to set a trap once help arrives. Avoid reaching in as it ruins your balance and allows the opponent to drive by you or get a foul.
Defense doesn’t stop when the player you’re defending passes the ball; you still have to be on your toes. Learn how to clog the passing lanes and prevent a player from getting the ball or at least make the catch difficult. Ball denial prevents a potential scorer from getting a high percentage shot off. Keep the foot and hand closest to the ball slightly forward and keep your palm toward the ball. This gives you the chance to reject an incoming pass.
The Right Position
You will be unable to react properly to the player you’re defending if your stance is wrong. Stay low and keep your weight balanced on the balls of your feet and avoid staying flat-footed. A good defensive player moves their hands and feet, and always stays between the hoop and the player.
These are some of the keys to become a better defensive player. Implement these while playing and work on your footwork to improve your defense.