Basketball: Perimeter Man-To-Man Defense

There are a few important aspects while guarding man-to-man defense on the perimeter, and it all begins with effort.

No matter what type of defensive principles you are taught and no matter how well you perform those principles, if you don’t consistently put in effort to guard your man, it will lead to breakdowns and poor overall team defense.  

The most important thing to remember when guarding your man is to make sure you can see your man and the ball at all times. Seeing your man and the ball will put you in the proper help side position to be ready if your teammate forces his man your way.

If you’re picking up your man full-court, you need to always stay in a defensive stance. Force the ball towards the sideline, then towards the baseline. Your main objective is to keep the ball on one side of the floor, so if your man has the ball on the right side, you want to keep him on that side – don’t let him get to the opposite side via dribble or pass.

Wondering how to force the ball to the side? The on-ball defender at the top of the key, or on the wing, must closeout on the ball handler with his sideline (outside) foot back and the middle (inside) foot forward. This will help steer the offensive player to one side and open up the possibility for a charge if the offensive player decides to go the opposite direction. Just be prepared to put your body on the line for the team.

Here are a few tips to help you with the basics of man-to-man perimeter defense:

1) Closeouts: Keep your hands high and don’t jump – just contest and box out the shooter
2) Passers/Cutters: Jump to the ball, beat people to the spot
3) Shot: Contest all shots (high jump, but under control); sprint (spot to spot on the rotation)
4) Help and Recover: Jab (quick steps and quick hands)
5) Box Out: Turn and find your man to box out (stay low); two hands to bump, turn and seal your man
6) Effort/Intensity: It’s a must!

Man-to-man perimeter defense comes down to staying low in a defensive stance at all times and exuding effort to not allow your man to score or be a playmaker. Always make it tough for your opponents. Be physical with them and make every touch, every pass, every shot the most difficult play they’ve made. By doing this, you can take command of your man-to-man defense and get the authority over your opponent so they know nothing will come easy with you as a defender.

For more man-to-man defensive drills, click here.

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