More Defence Tips to perfect your team game in Basketball

Nellakir continue to announce new developments that will further junior, senior and elite competition in both Basketball and Netball as well as sports such as Volleyball, Badminton and Gymnastics. The best flooring for high level competition is Sprung TImber Sports Flooring. Nellakir are the leading suppliers of Sprung Timber Sports Flooring in Victoria and Tasmania. Next week we will announce a number of new projects and major maintenance to be commenced in the next few months. Meanwhile get back to perfecting your Basketball Defence Strategies. This week we provide tips 12 – 25 – play ball!

13. Use Your Time on the Bench Wisely


When you do get subbed out of the game, don’t waste the opportunity you have to study the opposition team while you recover.

I’ll elaborate on the specific questions to think about later in the article…

But for now, here’s a brief summary…

  • What are the tendencies of the player you’ll be defending?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What offense is the opponent running?
  • Who are the best shooters on the team?
  • How do their set plays work?
  • etc.

14. Gain Possession of Every Loose Basketball


What coaches often refer to as 50/50 balls are when the basketball has been knocked away or deflected and both teams have an even chance of taking possession.

A player’s job is to turn the basketball from a 50/50 ball to an 80/20 ball. Meaning that when there’s a basketball loose on the floor, you’ll be the one who secures it 8 times out of 10.

In order to do this, players must be down in defensive stance ready to react at any moment and must also be willing to put their body on the line for the benefit of the team by diving on the basketball if the opportunity to do so arises.

Every single possession counts and these are the plays that will determine which team has had more scoring opportunities at the end of the game.


15. Learn How to Use Your Body to Your Advantage

Fact: Basketball is a contact sport.

If you want to excel as a defender, you need to learn how to use your body to your advantage.

By allowing the offensive player to get anywhere they want on the court, you’re not doing a good job on defense.

Use your arm bar and lower body to move players away from where they want to catch the basketball. This goes for the low post and on the perimeter.

Cut off an opponent’s cutting lane by stepping in front and bumping them while making sure to keep your hands out to show you’re not pushing.

Players will learn to use legal physicality as they gain more experience and gradually face smarter and stronger competition.

16. Be Willing to Take a Charge

The other unselfish act a player can make on defense is being willing to put their body on the line and draw a charge.

Taking a charge is often a huge momentum changer and will make the opposition hesitate next time they’re around you.

If a player is dribbling or running in your direction, hold your position and when they make contact allow your body to fall straight backward while simultaneously forcefully blowing out air.

Is this flopping? Maybe.

Will they call the charge if you hold your ground and don’t allow your body to fall over? In 99% of the cases, no they won’t.

Whether we like it or not, being able to exaggerate a charge has turned into a skill in today’s basketball.

It will get your team extra possessions every game!

17. Improve Your Athletic Ability


While a lot of it is innate, you can definitely improve your athletic ability if you’re working on the right things.

Remember how I talked about basketball being a game of inches earlier in the article?

Then it should be obvious that improving your athletic ability even slightly can often help you make up these inches and more.

I highly recommend players complete a vertical jump program during their basketball off-season.

Here is a link to an equipment-free 12-week vertical jump program that I created that can help any player gain a few extra inches on their vertical leap.

The other exercises I recommend are the use of ladders to improve foot quickness and even cone drills to improve explosiveness and acceleration.

18. Be a Student of the Game

All players who aspire to be great defenders need to be constantly improving their knowledge on the subject.

The best way to do this is by talking to great defenders about their thoughts on defense and also by watching great defenders.

In this day and age, one of the best ways to do that is by watching YouTube video breakdowns.

Here are a couple of my favorites…

Never stop improving your defensive knowledge.

19. Stop Complaining About Missed Calls

One of the most detrimental decisions a player can make for their individual defense and also for the team’s defense is to complain about missed calls.

Instead of sprinting back on defense, a player stops and complains to the referee about a call they believe should have been made but wasn’t.

When a player does this, it often leads to a 5 on 4 fast break resulting in an easy score for the opposition if they spaced the floor correctly.

A player who has ambitions to be a great defensive player can’t ever allow this to happen.

More than anything, a player must understand that referees are going to miss calls from time to time.

You must get back on defense immediately and if the lack of foul call does need to be brought up with the official, leave it for a stoppage in play or for the coach to do the talking.

20. Establish Post Position as Early as Possible


One of the keys to great post defense is not allowing the opposition to establish early position.

Players competing in the post must beat their man down the court and then make contact early to keep them as far out as possible.

By doing so, there’s less chance that they’ll receive the basketball and have the opportunity to score from close range.

This isn’t specific to the initial sprint down the floor either.

Post defenders should be legally physical with their opponent the entire possession to keep them as far away from the rim as possible.

21. Make Contact and Secure the Rebound


Too many players will play hard defense and force a contested shot, but once the shot has left the opponents hands, they act like their job is finished.

A defensive possession isn’t over until your team has rebounded and secured the basketball.

I hesitate to write the traditional ‘box out on every shot’ because I feel too many players get so focused on boxing out their opponent that they forget to rebound the basketball.

If you’re close to the basket, box out.

If you’re away from the basket, make contact with your opponent and then pursue the basketball.

Understand Your Team’s Defensive System


22. What Defense is Your Team Running?

An obvious but important question.

A lot of times a youth basketball coach will install a defense by explaining how it works, but never directly telling the players what it is.

Make sure you find out what the coach is running so that you can go home and learn more about the defense you’re going to be playing.

Study it until you understand it completely. You never want to get lost when you’re playing defense.

Once you’ve gained deep knowledge of what to do on the defensive end of the floor, the coach will be able to trust you to make the right decisions and that will usually lead to an increase in court time.

23. How Does Your Team Defend the Pick and Roll?

The pick and roll is arguably the most effective action in basketball.

In order to be a great defender, you must know how your team’s defense is designed to defend it.

Depending on the age and skill level of your opponents, some coaches will choose to go under the screen, over the screen, or even switch the screen.

Some teams will have different defensive actions depending on where the basketball is on the court or even depending on which offensive players are involved in the screen.

Failure to defend the pick and roll correctly will almost always lead to an open shot from the offensive team.

If this is something you need to ask and clarify with your coach, do it.

24. What Are the Defensive Rotations?

“Defense is all about helping. No one can guard a good dribbler, you have to walk kids through how to help and then how to help the helper” – Bob Knight

Being able to rotate correctly and immediately on defense is by far the hardest part of defense for most players.

Players get stuck in the ‘this is my man and I have to stop them from scoring’ mentality and forget that basketball isn’t played individually. It’s played as a team.

There are going to be breakdowns in the defense from time to time and players must be ready and willing to rotate off their player and help out their teammates.

Therefore, having complete understanding of the defensive rotations is incredibly important for a great defender.

The most common rotations that are when there’s a baseline drive.

The help defender on split-line needs to rotate across to prevent the layup and then the high defender needs to rotate down to stop the pass to the helper’s defender.

25. How Are You Defending the Post?

Every single player on the team must understand the rules on defending players in the post.

This includes the guards on the team.

Whenever I help out coaches with tall and strong guards on their team, I always recommend they use them in the post. The opposition guards never know what to do because they’ve never been taught post defense!

Specifically, all players must understand how to front the post, 1/2 front from either side, and how to play behind.

How your team uses these tactics in games is up to the coach and the defensive system used by the team.

Ensure that all players know exactly what to do if they get stuck in a post defense situation.



Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

Improve your game – Defence Tips

1. Focus on Forcing Tough Shots

The most important thing for a player to remember about defense is that the goal is to force the opposition to attempt a difficult shot.

Whether the shot they attempt is made or missed is irrelevant.

There will be times when you play fantastic basketball defense for an entire possession and your opponent hits a tough fadeaway jump shot.

There will be other times when you play terrible defense for an entire possession and your opponent misses a shot or turns the basketball over.

For those reasons, it’s important to focus on the process of playing great defense and forcing the opposition team into a low-percentage shot instead of judging your defense on whether the shot they attempted was successful or not.

2. Commit to Becoming a Great Defender

You’ll never become a great defender without consciously deciding that becoming a great defender is important to you.


It takes a tremendous amount of toughness and heart to commit to the defensive end of the floor.

Most players would prefer to take the easiest matchup possible so that they don’t have to work hard on the defensive end of the floor. The fans want to see the ankle-breaking crossovers and the thunderous dunks.

It’s only the hardcore basketball fans who appreciate and understand how important the defensive end of the floor is.

Becoming a great defender starts with embracing and loving the challenge.

So, before anything else, you must start with a change in mindset.

Make the decision that from this day forward you’re committed to becoming a great defensive player.

3. Always Defend the Opposition’s Best Player

By far the best way to become a great basketball defender is to play against highly skilled offensive players.

This goes for practice, pick-up games, regular games, 1-on-1 games, everything.

Constantly seek out the best offensive players and challenge yourself to play great defense against them.

If you keep competing against players who are bigger, stronger, and more skilled than you are, I promise that you’ll walk away from the game a better defender every single time.

4. Keep Your Balance at All Times

Balance is one of those areas that coaches constantly emphasize the importance of but players often consider unimportant.

Let me make this perfectly clear…

Balance is everything on defense.

Staying on balance allows defenders to quickly react to movements and actions from the offensive team.

When you’re not on balance, it’s impossible to be a great defender.

For example: Think about all the fakes that players use on offense… Shot fakes, pass fakes, jab steps, etc.

Some players might not realize it, but these are all weapons used to get the defensive player off-balance making it easier to attack and score.

Once you lose your balance, it’s game-over for the defense.

A smart offensive player will instantly attack an off-balance defender and either create a shot for themselves or a teammate.

5. Stay in Defensive Stance the Entire Possession

Most players are in the bad habit of only being in defensive stance when they’re playing on-ball basketball defense. When they’re playing off-ball defense, they’re out of stance and ‘resting’.

Great defenders don’t do this.

Great defenders stay in defensive stance for the entire defensive possession.

Staying in defensive stance allows players to react quickly when needed.

This could be to rotate across to play help defense on an opponent driving to the rim or to intercept a skip pass.

You must understand that basketball is a game of inches and if you’re not in defensive stance, the extra split-seconds of time that it takes to react can be the difference between blocking a shot or allowing a layup.

Tip – If you’re having trouble staying down in stance for a long period of time, try doing ‘wall sits’ (video) multiple times per week. This involves resting your back against a wall and sliding down until your knees form a 90-degree angle. Aim to stay in this position for as long as possible and gradually build up the length of time.


6. Prepare Physically and Mentally to Play Great Defense

Your preparation refers to your pre-game routine, keeping your body in top physical condition, what kind of food you’re eating, the amount of sleep you’re getting each night, studying your opponents and the teams you’re competing against, your water intake levels, etc.

If you’re not focusing on these things before the game even starts, then you’ll never live up to your defensive potential when you take the court.

Players must start taking preparation more seriously.

Do you think a player joking around before the game when they should be mentally preparing and warming up can step on the court and be a great defender?


Do you think a player who takes no time to think about their upcoming opponent (their tendencies, strengths, weaknesses) and the team their playing against can step on the court and be a great defender?


Preparation is crucial to your success on the basketball court. Take it seriously.

7. Never Allow Easy Transition Scores

Unless your role is to crash the offensive boards after a teammate shoots the basketball, you must sprint back on defense immediately after the shot is taken.

By doing so, you’ll be in position to stop the opponent’s fast break and to then pick up your player as they make their way down the court.

The worst possible thing a player can do is neither transition back on defense or sprint in for the offensive rebound.

Instead, they wait for the shot to be rebounded by either team and then react.

This allows the opposition to pass forward and score uncontested layups which will often be the difference between winning and losing games.

8. Always Give Multiple Efforts

Every great defender is willing to give multiple efforts on defense.

I see too many players who will get beat off the dribble and will then consider themselves out of the play so they jog back to pick up their player crossing their fingers that they don’t score.

This can’t happen.

You must give 100% effort on defense until your team has secured possession of the basketball.

These multiple effort situations can occur when the basketball is being juggled on a rebound and you have to jump 3 – 4 times to secure the basketball or when a player gets beat playing full-court on-ball defense and instead of giving up they turn and sprint back into the play and attempt to get a back tip steal to one of their teammates.

“I put players in and take them out based on effort and defense, not making or missing shots” – Doc Rivers

Great defenders never give up.

9. Constantly Talk to Your Teammates

You can never be a great defender if you’re not communicating with your teammates when play basketball defense.

“There has never been a great ‘silent’ defense” – Del Harris

Throughout the entire defensive possession, you should be letting your teammates know where you are and what’s happening on the floor that they might not be able to see.

If all 5 players on the court are doing this everyone stays on the same page and it will prevent many defensive breakdowns.

Here are 5 of the most common phrases players should communicate on basketball defense:

1. “Ball, ball ball” – Used by the defender guarding the basketball.

2. “Deny, deny, deny” – Use by the defender one-pass away denying their opponent.

3. “Help, help, help” – Used by a player two passes away to let others know that they’re in position to help on a drive.

4. “Screen right” or “Screen left” – To let your teammate know there’s a screen coming and which side it will be set on.

5. “Cutters coming through” – If an opposition player is cutting through the lane.

If you’re one of the leaders on the team, it’s even more important that you’re talking to the less experienced players on your team about where they should be on the floor.

For example…

“Mike come low.”

“Mike get up and deny the pass.”

“Mike force him to the left.”

All talking must be loud and clear to be effective communication.

This kind of communication can go a long way to improving the team’s defense and also giving each player added confidence.


10. Always Listen to Your Teammates

Just as you must constantly talk to your teammates, you must always listen to them too.

Having teammates who are great at communicating will instantly make you a better defensive player because you’ll be more aware of what’s going on around you.

This is why you must be constantly emphasizing to the other players on your team the importance of communication.

It will by most evident when you’re playing on-ball defense. Listen out for teammates calling screens and then adjust your positioning so that you’re able to evade the screen and establish defensive position back in front of your opponent.

11. Accept That You’ll Get Crossed Up and Dunked On

This is an odd defensive tip, isn’t it?

But it’s an important view of tough defense that you must understand.

The players who never get crossed up are the players that are hanging back off their player and not giving the best for their team when they’re playing defense.

The players that never get dunked on are the players who don’t rotate to help or who would rather not contest a shot that they’re unlikely to block.

If you’re going to be a great defender, you need to accept that these things can (and probably will) happen to you.

Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself by putting pressure on the basketball and playing tight defense. When you get caught out once or twice, brush it off and continue to work hard.

12. Stay Out of Foul Trouble

Being able to consistently stay out of foul trouble is one of the keys to being a great defender.

After all, you can’t be a great defender if you’re on the bench, right?

Staying out of foul trouble comes down to two things…

a. Your defensive knowledge

As you improve more and more as a defender, you’ll learn when the best opportunities are to attempt a steal or get a deflection.

b. Your discipline

Once players know what opportunities they should and shouldn’t be taking on defense, they must have the discipline to play the percentages and stick to only the plays that are low risk and high reward.

This involves staying down on shot fakes, not lunging for a basketball that you’re unlikely to steal or deflect, and staying straight up when you’re defending inside the key.

Also, if you’re one of the better players on the team, it’s often a better option to allow your opponent to score than it is to draw a foul that’s going to sit you for the rest of the game.

“If one of our players gets his second foul in the first half, then he must come out of the game and not re-enter until the second half. To play defense and not foul is an art that must be mastered if you are going to be successful” – Chuck Daly


Next week we will continue with tips 25-57. Learn from the best. Be the best you can.

On a Nellakir Sprung Timber Sports Floor – the champion floor where champions learn and perform.


Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

Fast Break Drills for Youth Basketball

(P.S. Don’t forget the annual maintenance)

With Maintenance bookings now filling up fast, don’t forget to ensure your court remains competitive. Book now for the first school break or later in the year. Ensure the playing surface on your Sprung Timber Sports Flooring remains at its very best. From re-coating to re-sanding or a full refurbishment – call Nellakir now on 0394676126. Book in for an annual maintenance program. Call the experts. Nellakir for expert construction and programmed maintenance on all Sports Flooring

Fast Break Drills for Youth Basketball

Are you looking for drills that will help your youth basketball team get out in transition and score more points on the fast break? Then you’ll love these two practice ideas.

The first one is called the “Celtics Layup Drill”, and it trains your kids to pass accurately and finish at high speed in a full court setting. It’s also excellent for keeping your youth basketball team in top physical condition.

The second drill is called “Triangle Breakout” – this one focuses on boxing out after the shot goes up, then quickly transitioning from defense to offense. If you enjoy these drills, make sure you download the Fast Break Domination eBook today.

Boston Celtic Passing Drill:

This drill is run with two group of players simultaneously moving down the court, one on each side of the court and going towards opposite baskets (see the diagram below).


To start, there will be a player in each corner, a player under each basket with a ball, and a player standing on each side of the center circle. This is a passing drill that will start with the player under each basket and wind-up with that player making a layup at the opposite end of the floor.

The players under each basket will begin the drill by passing to the right corner. That player will sprint up the floor and receive a pass back. The next pass will go to half court. The player will continue to sprint up the floor and receive the pass back. The next pass is to the other corner (on the other end of the floor). The player will receive the ball back and make a layup. That player will then go to the corner to the left.

After each pass, the player making the pass should move to the next spot on the floor. So the player in the right corner will go to half court, the player at half court will go to the corner, and the player in the corner will get the rebound from the layup and then begin the drill all over again by passing to the right corner and sprinting up the floor.

Coaching Points:

The coach should look for crisp and accurate chest passes. He should also see the player going through the drill running hard and finishing hard with a layup. The players on each spot should pass the ball back so that the player running the floor doesn’t have to break stride.

Basketball Transition Drill: Triangle Breakout

To start, three offensive players and three defensive players set-up in a triangle under the basket. Two other defensive players stand on each wing. See the diagram below.


To initiate the drill, the coach will take the shot. When the shot is taken, the defensive players must box out the offensive players. Once a defender grabs the rebound, that player must make an outlet pass to one of the players on the wing. The offensive players should contest the outlet pass. If the defense doesn’t grab the rebound or successfully make an outlet pass, then the ball goes back to the coach for another shot.
Once the outlet pass is made, all five players (the three in the triangle under the basket and the two outlet players) break up court and run a play. Once the play is completed, the drill is run again.

Coaching Points:

The coach should make sure the defensive players find a man and successfully box that man out. Players should go up strong for the rebound. Then a crisp outlet pass should be made.

The defensive players should be vocal, yelling out “Shot” and “Box Out” when the shot goes up. When they secure the rebound, the rebounder should yell “Ball” and the outlet man should yell “Outlet!” to receive the pass and begin the fast break.



Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.