Basketball: Calling All Defenders

As a basketball coach and trainer, I find that most, if not all of my athletes desire to ultimately become better scorers. They watch superstars like Curry and Durant on the court, and they wish to emulate their game. Three pointers, dunks, and impressive handles make these players exciting to watch. But as a fan and former player of the sport I often ask myself, “Where’s the defense?”

Without a doubt, having an exceptional offensive game will make you a better basketball player, but being able to play defense can make you elite.

Defensive specialist do not receive much credit, yet their contribution on the court oftentimes determine the outcome of the game.

We’ve all heard the phrase “defense wins championships” but players seem to not be concerned with learning the basics of defending the opponent on the court. With that being said, take a moment to implement these key defensive techniques in your training and practices to elevate your athletes’ game.


Playing defense begins with being in good position. Teach your athletes to position themselves between the ball and the goal as mush as possible. They should always stay low and keep their hands wide in order to cover the most ground. Their ability to move laterally by shuffling is key, shifting their feet in a shuffle as opposed to sliding or crossing their feet.

Footwork & Energy

As with nearly every sport, basketball requires good footwork and balance to be successful. Workout with cones and a speed ladder to sharpen your athletes’ footwork.

Good defenders have great energy. Their feet and hands are always moving; they shift their weight to the balls of their feet, staying off of their heels and the hands remain wide and above the waist. Try using stationary quick feet drills, practicing to keep moving at all times on defense while at the same time using the proper stance.

Watch the Best

Instead of watching basketball for just entertainment, use that time in front of the television to study how elite defenders play the game. I enjoy watching old school players like Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman defend the best players on the opposing teams. Current players like Kawhi Leonard and Tony Allen are defensive specialist that you can learn a lot from.

Defense is as equally necessary to basketball as offense. Players that can play both ends of the court add more value to their game and to their team.

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