Win More Games With This End of Game Defensive Tip for Players & Coaches

By Joe Haefner

In our Man to Man Defense System, we discuss situations and options when playing with the lead at the end of the game.

One of the options we discuss is to overplay the outside shot and force the players to dribble penetrate when you are winning by 3 points with minimal time remaining.

When doing this, it is important to have no help defense from teammates! All of the defensive players stay around the 3-point arc in the area of the offensive player they are guarding. Even if the player gets an uncontested lay up, you are still winning the game.

Here is the tip that can dramatically increase your chances of winning the game:

When forcing the player to dribble penetrate, force them to the direction of their non-shooting hand. If they shoot with their right hand, force them to dribble to the left.

Now, let me tell you why. If an offensive player is covered and can not attempt a 3-point shot, the player will often take one hard dribble and pull up for the 3-point jump shot or dribble inside the arc and use a step-back move to create separation to get the 3-point shot off. If you have forced the player to his weak hand, you are on the shooting side of the offensive player. Now, you are in great position to take away or disrupt the offensive player’s shot.

This can result in:

- A deflected or blocked shot.

- A shot where the offensive player hitches or double-clutches, which dramatically decreases the chance of the shot going in.

By johntrainor

- An offensive player panics and turns the ball over.If you are not on the shooting side, you have to reach across the player’s body to disrupt the player’s shot which can often lead to a foul.

As a coach, if you do not feel comfortable with your players’ decision-making, have them put their arms straight up instead of trying to block the shot.

There are times that players will make miraculous shots, but this approach will help you win more games in the long run!

A great way to get your players to perform in the clutch is to use this End of Game Drill.  This drill is great for all levels, because it is also a fun way to end practice.

If you are a youth coach, I would NOT bother covering this situation in depth.  There are more important things to cover!


  1. ariel rabe — July 22, 2008 @ 11:55 pm

    One hitch is if, off a cross-court pass, the player being guarded can fake to his right with one dribble (shooting arm) and then quickly (crossover) explode to his left with one dribble and make a 3 point jump shot with his shooting arm from the left top-wing. I saw this happened recently. And they won by 2 points. Actually an upset win. On slow motion, the shooting form was perfect.

  2. Joe Haefner — July 23, 2008 @ 9:19 am

    Yeah. I’ve seen the same thing happen. Sometimes, you can not stop a great move.

    One thing I did not make clear in the article. On a close out, your priorities should be to stop the shot and stop penetration. Then, if you can dictate the offensive player to his or her weak hand, do so.

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