Many, if not all coaches will say that a great defence is the key to winning a game due primarily to the fact that it prevents the other team from scoring. Basketball defence isn’t just about being fast and having good skills, it takes a lot of effort to study your opponent. At any level of play, from junior to senior defence must be a top priority.
Studying your opponent is not an easy task. You must watch your opponent and understand the type of game they play, the moves they make and the way they approach the ball. If you can get an idea of the way your opponent plays, you will be able to outsmart them. Some key questions to ask yourself when studying your opponent include:
- What are your opponent’s favourite shots?
- Is your opponent right handed or left handed?
- Does your opponent cut to the basket a lot?
- Will your team need to double team your opponent?
Your defensive stance is essential to a great defence. A good defensive stance allows your body to be ready to react in any direction. You should keep your knees bent and your feet shoulder width apart from each other. One foot should be a bit ahead of the other.
Don’t try to reach in and steal the ball if you have not yet perfected your defence. You are at risk of fouling your opponent, also you can fall for a ball fake which will put you off balance and force your teammates to cover your player. You can slightly raise your arms in a position where you can easily steal the ball if your opponent fumbles.
One of the smartest ways to out play your opponent is to force them to dribble with their weak hand. For example, if your opponent is right handed, put your left foot forward and close in aggressively so that you can pressure them to change hands quickly or direction.
Deciding on the amount of space to leave your opponent is important and something many players do incorrectly. Space depends on the situation. For example, if your opponent is a skilful dribbler, give them a full step or two so that it is harder for them to go around you. If your opponent is a good shot from outside the key you must play up close and force them to get rid of the ball rather than shoot.