10 Steps Toward an Elite Team Defense

Scritto da: Chris Hungerford



Tempo di lettura 5 min

Basketball Team Defense in 10 Steps

Basketball Team Defense needs to be a crucial part of any team development program. Team defense is something that you can always rely on because there will be days when the rim is a bit higher, the hands are cold and the ball is a size too big. If you look at the basketball history, all the good teams actually played a good team defense.

In this article, we are going to explain to you 10 crucial steps in building good basketball team defense. If you take notice, it is just simple stuff that needs to be used at all times.

Basketball Team Defense

Good Basketball Defense Requires Communication

  • Communicate in Basketball Defense
    • Speak within shifts and offensive activities.
    • Confuse the offense with the loud-mouthed conversation.
    • Stay interlocked the whole play with communication.
  • No Exceptions
    • Be prepared to communicate, despite position or character.
    • Communication is not negotiable.
  • Accountability
    • All the players must be judged equally
    • Excellent communication requires to be rewarded.
  • Relevant Communication - No empty voices
  • Shout out specific things that are going to help.
    • Cutter - when a player cuts to the basket
    • Screen - Let a player know a screen is coming
    • Post-guarding the ball in the post area
    • Double - two players guarding one player
    • Ball - the on-the-ball defender
    • Help - players who are ready to help stop dribble penetration

Same Page

  • Defensive Philosophy
    • Everyone obliges to be on a similar page when defending different positions.
    • This will help to reduce defensive breakdowns and chaos.
  • Stretches to Talk About
  • Ball screen actions
    • Guards: Over - Under - Through - Switch
    • Posts: Drop - Show - Hard Hedge - Switch
  • Off-ball screen action
    • Guards: Under - Chase - Switch
    • Post (Low): Show, Remain back, Switch
  • Post defense
    • Guard: Double up, Stay home, lob - help, dig down
    • backside if it is a full front.
    • Post:3/4 front, 1/4 front, Remain behind, go front

The Details of Basketball Defense

  • Have Active Hands
    • Place hands in passing lanes and divert the ball.
  • Force the defense to throw the ball over the top.
    • This is necessary for providing the weak side defender with the chance to close out on the catch.
  • No Hands Down - High Hands at all times
  • Closeout with high hands and contest each shot with no exceptions - hand in the face is an obligation.
    • Drastically reduces the shot percentage.
  • Close-Outs - Half sprint, half in a state with a small step
  • Be there on the catch.
    • Move when the ball leaves the hands
    • Don't fall for pass fakes
  • Need to be controlled.
    • Mince your steps and stay low. Don't lose the connection with the floor.
  • Prevent the Drive
    • Be in a spot to slip and prevent the drive with your body and without your hands.
    • Deny the middle, and force the baseline.
  • No Cuts
    • Bump each cutter.
    • Prevent FACE CUTS.
    • See both the man and the ball while guarding cutters.
  • Post Position
    • No Deep balls on the block - push the low post out of the paint
    • Battle for position before the entry pass on the block


  • Try Not to Gamble
    • Stay in a defensive stance.
    • Try Not to Reach when high (paint is the first area to look for the ball).
  • Consequence of Gambling
    • Needless fouls.
    • Comfortable offensive opportunities for the opponent.
    • Bad defensive situations.
    • Bad energy on the defense.
  • Stance
    • Athletic stance off the ball, basketball defensive stance on the ball.
  • Positioning
    • Move with the ball, on and off the ball.
    • Know your place and responsibility all the time.

Fight to the End

  • Must rebound
    • Each player needs to do their job when the ball is flying toward the basket.
    • No putbacks.
  • No man Balls
    • Win most of the 50/50 balls.
    • The ball is ours until is in their hands.

High Energy Plays

  • Charges
    • Must sacrifice the body for the good of the team
    • Be in the best help position, and anticipate the offensive movement and tendencies.
  • Seize the Floor
    • Everybody's mindset requires the idea to be first in the fight.
    • Get dirty.
  • Honor Energy Plays
    • Scream, shout, help your guy get up, jump around, and engage with the fans.


  • Forget the mistakes now but analyze them later
    • Do not let mistakes affect your energy level and focus.
    • Talk with teammates, and ask for help to get through it.
    • Switch if required, better a mismatch than the open shot.
  • Battle for Stops
    • Bigger desire wins.
    • Step up and make a play when the play is needed the most
  • No Plays Off
    • Obligated to fight in every play.
    • Be accountable at all times.
    • Hold others accountable in a positive way.

Protect the Paint

  • Deny the Paint
    • High percentage shots come from the paint. If the ball is not in the paint the defense is good.
    • One player defending the ball, the rest are there to help.
  • On Ball Pressure
    • Contain the ball with pressure.
    • Identify the playmaker and pressure him the most. I
  • Rotations
    • Help defenders need to be ready to help at all times.
    • Help the helper. He also needs help.
    • Everybody must be available to rotate.
    • If there is a breakdown everybody needs to step up and play 110% to make things right


  • No Easy Looks
  • Every time you need to get back on defense in a sprint.
    • The first 3 steps are the fastest, then comes the scanning and adjusting the position.
    • Do not be in the level of the ball, or drag yourself back on your man.
  • Try to stop the ball early.
    • One player needs to give information about the positions, the ball, and tendencies.
  • Communicate what's happening in front of you.
    • Point out, maybe they can't hear you.
    • Pick up the players first, then search for your man.

10. Prepare for the game - Have a Good Scouting Report

  • Know what the opponents are trying to do
    • Strengths?
    • Who is the best player on their team and what he does do?
    • Their playbook and actions?
  • Prevent the Best of them
    • Don't let them dictate what they want to do on offense.
    • Try to make them feel uncomfortable.
  • Respect your Game Plan
    • Respect the defensive game plan.
    • Trust the plan, trust your players, trust the coach, respect the ball.


Championship-winning teams are great at defense. Go and look how Bill Russel won 11 rings, Michael Jordan is one of the best perimeter defenders of all time, Kobe and Shaq were tremendous on the defensive end, LeBron is one of the best help defenders of all time, Golden State Warriors are one of the best Team Defenses we have ever watched. Then, if we take a look at NCAA, we know Coach K is all about the defense. Then you go overseas to Europe and you find Zeljko Obradovic, 11 times EuroLeague winner to be a master of defense.

Good defense does not come easy and it does not come fast. You need to create a defensive-minded identity and you have to build it from scratch.

No, the defense is not "the defense is all about whether you want it to play it or not". I mean, desire and energy play a big role in it but there is so much more. The learning process is hard and long but it's rewarding at the end.

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