7 Reasons that Defense Wins Games and Should Be Your Priority -- Can You Come Up With More Reasons?

Both offense and defense are important. However, we believe that defense can be under-emphasized at times. Here are some reasons that we believe that defense should be emphasized and a priority at every practice. Can you help us come up with more reasons?

  1. It's Something You (Coaches) Can Control

    Defense is something that you can more easily control on the basketball court.

    You can't always control how many three point shots fall in the basket, BUT you can control the intensity, effort, and execution of your basketball defense.

  2. NCAA & NBA Champions Play Great Defense

    When you think about it, almost every championship basketball team at the college and professional level had a great man to man defense...

    Just look at the last 9 NBA champions and their Opponents PPP (Points per Possession):

    • 2012 - Miami Heat - 4th Regular Season, 5th in Playoffs
    • 2011 - Dallas Mavericks - 7th in Regular Season, 9th in Playoffs
    • 2010 - LA Lakers - 5th in Regular Season, 7th in Playoffs
    • 2009 - LA Lakers - 5th in Regular Season, 2nd in Playoffs
    • 2008 Boston Celtics - 2nd in Regular Season, 2nd in Playoffs
    • 2007 San Antonio Spurs - 1st in Regular Season, 4th in Playoffs
    • 2006 Miami Heat - 10th in regular season, 2nd in Playoffs
    • 2005 San Antonio Spurs - 3rd in Regular Season, 2nd in Playoffs
    • 2004 Detroit Pistons - 1st in Regular Season, 1st in Playoffs

    All of the teams were the top in the NBA in regards to defense. The only two that were not elite defenses were the 2010 and 2011 champions. However, they were still VERY good defenses and you would have noticed that their 3 Pt. FG defense was elite (1st and 3rd).

    The Last 5 Men's NCAA College Champions....

    This is according to the adjusted Defensive Efficiency calculated by Ken Pomeroy. Since the NCAA has nearly 350 teams, all of these teams ranked in the top 95 percentile of teams.

    • 2013 - Louisville - 1st
    • 2012 - Kentucky - 9th
    • 2011 - Connecticut - 14th
    • 2010 - Duke - 4th
    • 2009 - North Carolina - 16th

    *** We did not list women's stats as they were harder to collect.

  3. Quickest Way for You To Get Competitive

    Besides recruiting players, developing a great defense is the quickest way for you to develop a competitive team. This is why so many coaches emphasize defense at the beginning of the season and try to develop it as quickly as possible. They know that you can develop a great defense a lot quicker than offensive skills. Anyone can play defense.

  4. Gives You Consistency

    Defense will keep you in games on those bad shooting nights.

  5. Great Defense Leads to Easy Offensive Opportunities

    One of the best ways to score easy baskets is to fast break. What leads to fast breaks? Defensive rebounds and turnovers. So it doesn't matter if you're a pressing team that forces more turnovers or a pack-line style defense that forces contested outside shots that lead to rebounds. Playing great defense will lead to more offense.

  6. Tough Defense Improves Defensive Rebounding

    If your players are constantly getting beat off the dribble and are out of position defensively, they can't box-out effectively. This leads to open lanes for offensive players to run freely down the lane, grab rebounds, and lay in easy baskets.

    If players contain the dribble and rotate quickly to the proper defensive position, this will lead to more defensive rebounds which means less points for your opponent and more points for you via fast breaks.

  7. Anyone Can Play Defense

    Even if you can only get a couple football players out for your team, you can still compete and teach those kids to play defense. You can take role players with no skill and allow them to contribute to the team by focusing on defense. This gives you a lot of flexibility as a coach.

What else are we missing? What are some other reasons to focus on defense?

Defense Resources

Jim Huber's Man to Man Defense

Don Kelbick's Match Up Zone Defense

Al Marshall's 2-3 Zone Defense


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John Doe says:
9/29/2020 at 10:45:07 AM

its not all about shooting


Ian says:
6/26/2019 at 4:09:03 PM

The directness & flashiness of offense makes players and coaches give it disproportionate emphasis, so defense is often the area where one can improve most.


harvey greig says:
11/16/2016 at 8:01:21 AM

when i was playing basketball i saw harvey being left out by brendan he was hanging around with tom


mike says:
2/3/2014 at 12:32:47 AM

Offense wins ball games....defense wins championships...we witnessed that tonight with Seattle against the "great" Peyton Manning. Btw...ever watch a Knicks game? Nuff said.


Ken Sartini says:
11/22/2013 at 9:08:21 PM

Muzza -

I'm laughing as I read your post.... practice D in the park?? NO way.... they might work hard at playing D but no one TEACHES them the fundamentals.


Muzza says:
11/22/2013 at 9:03:40 PM

I agree with you Joe,I coach young girls for club and representative sides,and my large part of training is working with Defense,individual,then 1on 1, 2on1 and so forth, as a coach when picking my side, I look for players especially that play good defense. As I believe also when you go down to the local park,and watch children just shoot around they are using their basic fundamentals,ie shooting,dribbling,passing and rebounding. But very rarely will you see them practising their defense.


James says:
5/24/2013 at 8:12:59 AM

When i was younger i found defence easier and i got the most attention from it - also if your a good defender and you hustle, you''ll always find good time on court and less time on the bench!


Coach Dale says:
5/19/2013 at 9:11:12 PM

A great defense comes first. Why? Because it leads to more (easy) offensive chances to score. You have points on turnovers, fast breaks, and free-throws. I believe lay-ups and free-throws are the easiest to make, right. So why not focus on defense first. Great defensive rebounding stops 2nd and 3rd chance offensive shots, which equals less points for the other team. It can only make your offense better. Not all the time, but usually the team that has more chances will win the game. By all means, you have to practice on offense but more defense. Thanks, Coach Dale.


Ken Sartini says:
5/18/2013 at 4:44:32 PM

Yes, balance is important..... but, the ball still has to go in the bakset.

Defense should be a constant.... and offense, well, you can run your stuff well..... but, as I said, you have to score. JMO


Samson says:
5/18/2013 at 4:41:34 PM

Basket ball is all about great defence and maximum utilization of offensive plays. If these two are well combined and balanced then a team must win.


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