In order to stop the ball and deny dribble penetration, you must begin with a good stance.
If you don't have a good stance, you won't have a good defensive slide, and you'll constantly be out of position and off-balance. This will enable the offense to score on you at will. EVERYTHING begins with a good defensive stance!
In the clip below from the Man To Man Defense Video with Jim Huber, he discusses critical components of a great defensive stance.
Here are 10 Keys to a Great Defensive Stance:
Fronts of the Feet - A little more than half of your weight should be distributed to the fronts or balls of your feet. Heel should still be in contact with the ground.
Stable Base & Feet Straight Ahead - Your feet should be pointing straight ahead. This creates an angle that allows you to provide more force against the ground.
Your feet should also be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
Hips Back & Knees Bent - Butt should be behind the heels and your knees should be pointing forward.
Knees Inside of Feet - This helps create alignment with your lower body which enables you to explode more efficiently in any direction.
Butt Down - Staying in a stable position with your butt down enables you to stay balanced and engage the glutes which is the most powerful muscle in the lower body.
Shoulders Over Knees - Your shoulders should be over your knees with your chest out and back straight. You don't want to be leaning too far forward or backwards.
If you have a tendency to lean forward too much - bring your hands above your head as thes will bring your torso more upright.
If you have a tendency to be too upright with your butt tucked under and knees stick too far forward, keep your hands straight in front of you as this will force you push your butt back into a better position.
Hands up - Depending on the tactic (Hands out or hand up to defend shot/dribble).
Eyes focused on the player's waist or chest.
Balance is the key to a great defensive stance and guarding the ball. If you lose your balance you are beat!!!
As a former coach who taught tough man-on-man defense, I agree with everything you have stated for the basic defensive stance excpt for the positioning of the feet. I believe that having a parallel foot position allows the offensive player the luxury of picking his direction to attack. My preferred foot position is to have one foot in advance of the other, depending on the direction you wish to influence the offense to take.
We actually teach the same thing in our ebook as you. When sliding on defense, we show you how to position your feet with text, diagrams, and pictures.
Although we teach this, I believe feet positioning should be based on your personnel and what type of defense you choose to play that year. In basketball, there is a million ways to teach the concepts and still be effective.
If you have some extremely quick kids and you want to pressure and force to one side of the court, it would be a good idea to use the staggered stance like you said.
If you have some slow kids or you want to cut down on all dribble penetration, you may use where you pack your defense into the middle to make help and recover easier. Personally, I think it would be a good idea to use a parallel stance for this type of defense. If the offensive player attacks the lead foot, it can be hard for the defensive player to stop the dribble penetration (especially, if they are not the quickest player) because it takes a split second longer drop that foot back and react to the offensive player.
They are other times you may want to use a staggered stance to force players to the middle if you have a bunch of shot-blockers.
The whole purpose for the staggered foot position is to influence the ball handler into accepting the easier path for his penatration attempt. This also signals to your teammates the direction you are attemting to force the dribbler. However, this does not eliminate the possibility for an attack on the lead foot. If the ball handler is very quick, the defender must allow for that and step off an extra step. There is no question that a successful attack on the lead foot is harder recover from, but it is also harder to accomlish successfully.
The principle of movement is to apply force in the opposite direction - if you want to go to the left you must apply force to the right with the right foot. However, if your knees are not inside your feet your ability to apply force is significantly compromised (in the picture the knees are not inside the feet enough). A basketball player in a proper defensive stance should feel like they are able to tear paper towel apart in the middle. If they are doing this they are applying the proper force properly and can move quickly in either direction.
The basic stance above is a good solid athletically sound stance that creates great balance. Whether you teach a stance that promotes dropping one foot back slightly depends on the knowledge base of the student. If you are working with younger kids or beginners of any age it may confuse them if you go right into theories behind pushing the offensive player in a certain direction. I coach freshman girls basketball and find that even some of the inexperienced kids need to start at the very basic fundamentals. The basic defensive stance and not crossing their feet while sliding is sometimes all they can handle.
Sometimes, I think we as coaches get obsessed with the "perfect" form or "perfect" way to do things. In reality, every player is unique. In order to maintain proper balance and slide quickly, one player may only need his feet shoulder width apart with his knees slightly bent while another player may need to have a wider stance while squatting really low to the ground in order to be effective.
This is only from my personal experience, but I have found that most kids need to have their feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart in order to maintain good balance, slide quickly, and change directions quickly.
Please disregard the request to remove my name from your list to receive the newsletter. I inadvertanly clicked on the site to request to remove my name. I think, as I prviously state, this is a great forum for coaches to exchange views
Mirroring the ball and getting as close as possible to the man with the ball are pointers that need to be told to the players time and again. As for the footwork and vertical balance, what should be added is that players should also be reminded that best defence is the perfect anticipation of the opponent's plan of attack (re spin, stutter step, on dribbling,etc.), then things will work out fine for the man on the defensive end.
As a division 1 college basketball campion I totatlly agree with the ideas and concepts in this article. I played for Jim Calhoun, a Hall of Fame coach, who stresses being big as possible when guarding a player. As a defensive player you want to try and dictate the offensive player. You dont want the offense to get good and clear looks at the basket nor give the offense the luxuary to set up smoothly and read over your defensive.
Defensive players need to be active. By having players constantly talking on defensive keeps everyone on defensive alert and aware. By applying constant hand movement like Bruce Bowen showed in the YouTube video above.
With that said, you could teach a players all the fundamentals and skills needed to play good defensive, but a player must be willing to play tough solid defensive if their respective teams hope to win games.
PS- you guys are very knowledgable coaches, your ideas and concepts help millions of people. I love reading your articles to help me keep my knowledge of the game up to date and sharp, thanks.
Is the player a good perimeter shooter? If not, you may want take a step off of the defender and give him the perimeter shot.
Now, which way should you force him? It all depends on the defensive philosophy. Some coaches like to force players to the baseline, because they rely on help rotation from the baseline. Some coaches like to force players to the middle, because they have shot-blockers in the middle. Some coaches say I don't care what you do, just stay between him and the basket. Some coaches like to force the players to the weak hand, but as the skill level increases, it's tougher to do that.
Now, if he is a good penetrator and a shooter, I would tell my player to get up within arm's length to defend the shot. Don't worry about forcing him one way or the other, just stay between him and the basket. I would tell the other defensive players to be ready to help. In today's game, it is very difficult to stop a player one on one. For more on defensive positioning, you can check out this link: http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/defense/help-positioning.html
Every coach has different philosphies on this. Some like them out to the side to appear bigger. Some like a hand up to defend the shot and a hand low to defend the dribble. Some like hand up to defend the shot and a hand out to defend the pass.
I guess it depends on you're coaching philosophy. Personally, I like to have a hand up, because I believe contesting shots dramatically decrease the opponents shooting percentage.
I'm a player looking for help. I'm guarding a quicker and stronger pg/sg.
1.)I'm ok when I'm guarding him on the wing cause I know where to shade. But if he catches it at the top, i don't know how my stance should be. (Which way should I try and force him left/right/parallel or what??)
2)I tried leaving some space cause he's faster but then he would just run around picks and I'd be mismatched on a big man and or he'd drive to the basket. What is a strategy to defend this?
P.S. I don't play for High School or AAU or anything if that matters. I'm just a 17 year old player that plays for a local adult league.
As far as the knees being inside the feet, I think baseball and football coaches refer to it as "squeeze the knees", because it aids in more efficient lateral movement to either side. I think it's used by infielders in baseball, and LBs and DBs in football. But I think this is a universal method that can be used in all sports, if it isn't already...
Dear All.. Many opinion says that, with good ofense you will be a winner, but with the good defense you will be a champion. so, defense is very important. I want to ask, what criteria a defense is successful? can you give your opinion about the questions above, and I asked for suggestions to you about the basketball defense book, because my thesis about the defense. thank you very much.
I have spent tons and tons of time teaching my Middle School aged girls team the right stance, how to direct your opponent to their weak side, how to sag off, help side defense, etc...they know where to be and how to play defense...what I am having a tough time getting from them is intensity..that scrappy, up-in-your-grill, have-a-little-bit-of-pride kind of defense. Anyone have any drills or words of wisdom that can help me get these girls to play tougher, scrappier defense?
- Emphasize defense and hustle. It's simple but if you talk about it every day, start with defense in practice first, and sell them on the benefits, kids will start to pick up that's its important to you.
I do not agree with the stance of the feet, they are too wide. You can hardly set a step to the side. I prefer that always your feet are under your shoulders so you are always be able to set a step to the side.
I was taught by a University level coach at a basketball camp when I was younger that having your hands at shoulder level, palms facing the dribbler was optimal because your hands were "half-way" between defending low-ball activity (dribbling, bounce passing) and high-ball activity (higher pass, shot).
Every individual will have a different stance due to the make up of their body. With that comes coaching on a individual basis. Finding the comfortable stance becomes the struggle. A seasoned coach should have no problem immediatly recognizing a stance that does not fit the player frame. Continuous schooling on the stance in conjunction with foot work drills should pay off in the long run. Note: Presentation should always be positive and toned for acceptance by the student. I do have some issues with the above stated for eyes focused on the waist or chest. I am in the arena with some coaches that believe this should be the absolute rule of thumb. Players are following this. I see so many passes zinging by the defenders ear due to the focal point of the eyes. I teach up and coming players to see it all. The body as a whole is quite large and should be easy to track. The eyes tell the story. I believe reading the eyes along with the ball location gives the defender a greater opportunity for steals and tipped passes. Location of hands is dependant the the offensive situation. I encourage the young kids not to be predictable. Hands up or hands down, what ever the position should keep the offense wondering what is going now. The occasional illusion of lazy defense really plays games with the offensive players head.
I am a player and I get in the stance above but it seems every time I get beat. I guard gaurds and small forwards but I am a bit slow and not as quick as the other players. I will not concede to the fact I cannot do something to stop this. What are some exercises I can do to develop a quicker first step to recover?
I find that having one foot forward in a one on one situation gets you beat every time (especially if the offence is quick off his feet.) Imagine a scenario when you are the defender and your right foot is forward. If the attacker drives to his left (your right) and gets past your foot, in order for you to move your right foot back to match the offence''s move, there is much more area that your right leg needs to cover. I have noticed this when playing offence, 8 to 9 times out of 10 I am able to best the defender with a simple fake and drive towards the foot that is forward.
Some people have said that you should keep one foot forward, I would argue that it isn''t the foot forward that makes much of a difference but when the defender''s body is cutting off the left or right hand drive. This is particularly useful when you are playing with a team.
Very informative coaching points but I'm curious about the issue of the knees inside the feet. I was watching a FIBA you tube video of Francesco Cuzzolin where he takes the view that knees inside is an improper stance and reduces effective and efficient movement. The reason for this reliance on knees inside is because of poor core strength. Check this out.
I guide players in a basic defensive stance. Then movement really depends on them at that point. What is most effective for them.
A huge untaught skill is Anticipation. Without anticipating your opponents moves you are at their mercy. You are waiting for them to make a move then you try to react quickly That is a huge defensive mistake as you will always be a split second behind your opponent.
Defense is played with the mind leading the body. Know what your opponent is going to do before they do it. When you learn your opponents pet moves and tendencies you will begin to anticipate their moves before they make them. By doing this you increase your ability to defend them.
I teach this discipline to my players. They have done some amazing defensive feats in games.