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.


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