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Defensive Basketball Techniques
The protective techniques used in preparation for football games can be applied to those used in basketball. In soccer, the goal is to use schemes, formations, and techniques that limit the ball’s progress. One method is to identify trends and find ways to combat them. For example, in basketball, if you can find a way to reduce the opponent’s shooting percentage by five percent, it can make a difference of six to eight points. This is a commendable achievement.
Let’s start by looking at man-to-man defense techniques. One of the first things to determine is your opponent’s dominant hand; either right-handed or left-handed. This is the shooting hand and it determines how you protect your man and block the shot. The next determination is which leg is the swing leg. This can change with the property and determines the orientation of the drive side, often to the side of the non-drive leg. Another thing is the position of the hand on the ball. The hand behind the ball shows a shot in preparation for the shot. Arms next to the ball indicate readiness to pass. The hand on top of the ball indicates readiness to dribble and indicates which hand to go left or right.
Another indicator is the form of dribbling. Players who drill between the legs or behind the back do so in a repetitive pattern before shooting or driving to the basket. Knowing this tendency gives a defensive player a slight advantage, a second to deal with a shot or dribble. Contested shots or drives decrease the scoring percentage and how much depends on the agility and agility of the defensive player. It also depends on the player’s ability to read and react to pointers.
Reading habits can also contribute to theft. By watching the rhythms and patterns of the dribble, the defensive player can predict where the ball will be and can shoot where it will deflect the ball away from him. Such movement requires knowing when to attack and with practice becomes instinctive rather than mental. A goal too early allows the opponent to change the dribble and too late forces the defender out of position. The point of attack is usually when the ball is dribbled up into the opponent’s hand, where the dribble follows a predetermined pattern. Stealing the ball in this way not only destroys the confidence of the opponent, but also adds two points to the score differential. It stops the scoring attempt, which averages one point per possession, and allows the defense to average one point per possession.
Team defense combines the above techniques, but adds coordinated support moves. This could be coming up or cutting off passing lanes or even trapping a regular player and getting in the way of passing or shooting lanes. Other times it fixes a mismatch, such as a short player guarding a tall player or an exceptional shooter facing an average defender. Assisting is a constant choice of risk and reward, as the two teams can have positive results or leave the opponent completely open. Thus, help requires all five defensive players working as a team. This means that when one player moves to help, the defensive responsibilities of the other three change.
How it changes depends on the skill sets of your opponents. For example, an outside shooter who has a low percentage requires less attention than an inside center who excels in paint and swing. Such a player requires special treatment, including double teaming, slowing defense and/or denying the ball.
The defense’s main problem is dealing with screens, fades, and the resulting mismatches. This is where trend analysis can come in handy. Do they use the screen to mount an open photo or drive to the cart? Or do they use it as a sliding screen where the screener slides toward the basket? How you defend it depends on their tendencies and the scoring threat of the players involved. Good defense requires making calculated choices that lead to the best outcome.
No defender can stop the attack. Instead, the goal should be to limit points per possession. Defensive backs come into play in this scenario because limiting second chances greatly reduces points per possession. While the defense has an advantage closer to the basket, it can increase that advantage through strong rebounding techniques. Limiting your opponent is key, but protecting potential landing spots is also important. For example, mid-range jumpers are closer to the basket versus long three-pointers. Layups and layups are now closer. Using this information can increase your return percentage.
In addition, the back position is more important when facing taller and more athletic players. Blocking is not enough, one must keep one’s opponent off balance by maintaining contact and limiting their jumping ability.
Passing is another trick where players pass the guarding responsibility to another player. This can be a verbal or non-verbal exchange and is usually used in high-profile situations. Most of the problems in this area are that the passing is not tight and one or both offensive players are dominant. Players in this zone are constantly caught and offensive players are left unchallenged. Communication is a must for such situations. Similarly, going for a mini-zone defense will help fix such mismatches and allow players to regroup.
In zone defense, players are assigned an area to defend instead of a player. Usually, players move towards the ball in a formation with little separation between them. This space reduces dribbling or driving to the basket. Thus, the offense is focused on passing the ball to the open man and taking mostly long shots. One strategy in this defense is to encourage shooting by low-percentage shooters and play for turnovers. Another strategy is to compete with potential shooters to lower the percentages.
Zone defense requires discipline in maintaining spacing and moving to the ball decisively and counter-intuitively. Here again, passing patterns quickly emerge to predict scoring chances and which players are likely to shoot and when. This information allows the defense to increase tackles in those moments. Such intense defense can be tiring and require moments of recovery. These can be picked up while attacking with the ball going upfield, timing it, and later on during a shot. Maintaining a fast-paced game can be regressive and detrimental to winning. Thus, focus on recovery is imperative.
On defense, you have several allies, including the sideline, the five-second rule, and the shot clock. When opponents are on the sideline, it’s like you have another defender on top of them because they can only go to the side. And if they’ve used their dribbling, it’s a tense moment that could lead to a turnover. Likewise, they can bounce back from their boundaries when pressed. Therefore, sidelining your opponent is a good thing and creates more chaotic moments for the offense.
Using the five-second rule on outfield throws can be important in tight games. Holding it for more than five seconds will cause a spin. When a crime has to go through the length of the court, one can take risks and go for a quick turnaround. So, the defensive alignment that suppresses the throw must be the rapid accumulation of defenders. First one, then two, and soon three, blocking every possible lane, creating a chaotic challenge for the pedestrian. Does the passer have a chance to intercept or does he have time to call a timeout?
In college, the five-second rule also applies to an offensive player who is closely guarded by a defender and does not drive the ball toward the basket. This rule eliminates a dribble without attempting to score on the clock. Here, when defenders press the dribble and interfere with passing lanes, such action can lead to turnovers and turnovers.
Knowing the shot clock can also have positive results because with five to seven seconds left, the offense is forced to take a shot. This is the time to break the flow and step of the defensive attack. By preventing the transition to key shooters, more time is wasted, thus forcing poor shooters to take bad shots. Such a strategy requires the defense to know the skill sets of the offensive players and their shooting percentages and defend accordingly.
While scouting strategies are popular in football, awareness and implementation of them in basketball can be a game changer. These strategies can come from studying opponent statistics and videos, or from personal observations and scouting reports. By bucking the trends, skill sets of competitors, a team can gain an advantage over shape-shifting competitors. Knowing what your opponent is doing is smart basketball. However, you need to know what trends to look for and how to incorporate the appropriate measures into your game plan. It’s not just smart basketball, it’s awesome.
The author wrote a companion article on the offensive side titled “Basketball: 5-Player Schemes Contribute to Winning Ideals.”
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