5 Tips for Better On-The-Ball Defense

Tip #1 - Never lose your balance

onball2 (9K) If you lose balance for one second, YOU ARE BEAT!

The purpose of every offensive move is to get YOU off balance - because as soon as you lose balance, the offense can blow by you.

This means when you're guarding the ball, you must:

  • Stay on your feet and do NOT go for shot fakes. When you go for fakes, you are beat!

  • Do not lunge for the ball and get off balance.

  • Stay in a WIDE stance. If your feet get too close together, you will lose balance.

  • Stay in a LOW and athletic stance. If you stand upright, you will more easily lose balance.

  • Take short steps when sliding. If your feet come too close together, you will lose balance.

onball (9K)

Tip # 2 - If the ball is below the mid-section, put your hand above the ball.

This prevents the offensive player from putting it in shooting position.

Tip #3 - If the ball is in shooting position, put your hand on the ball.

This will stop the player from shooting and you NEVER have to leave your feet (which causes you to lose balance).

Tip #4 - If the ball is above the head, place your hands under the ball and flip up.

This keeps you out of foul trouble (because most refs only call fouls if you swing downward) and it also keeps the player from bringing the ball down to shooting position.

Tip #5 - Keep your head lower than the offensive player's head.

That way you're getting underneath the offensive player and will be in good position to slide your feet or take a charge.

For more defense tips, check out our new basketball defensive system.

Related Resources:

The Ulimate Resource For Man To Man Defense - Videos and e-books

Why You Should Not Step Slide On Defense

Defensive Close Out Fundamentals -- 5 Keys to Better Close Outs

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Ejay says:
7/31/2018 at 8:15:27 AM

great! even I am smaller than my opponent, I could defend and have them difficulty to attack the rim. Thanks for the tips.

  1 reply  

Bruh says:
3/31/2022 at 10:59:18 PM



akashi seijuro says:
7/11/2018 at 7:42:33 AM

Basic tips
Look up my name and see what I mean
Look up on YouTube
I have a special eye for this stuff


No Name says:
6/14/2018 at 10:53:53 AM

Cool this will really help me


Mr. Walker says:
5/7/2018 at 8:07:39 PM

This is why foot positioning, sliding, defensive stance is so important. If they want to dribble between your legs, let them. Just don''''t allow them to blow past you by having poor foot mechanics. If they want to pass between your legs, good for them. Plus, by playing lower than them you still have a good chance of stopping that pass. The ones getting balls passed between their legs are likely playing too tall.


Grand_slammer08 says:
12/6/2017 at 10:28:30 PM

Where do i look when i defend. Do i look at the ball, the eyes....?

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
12/7/2017 at 8:25:09 AM

When you're defending the ball the most common suggestion is to watch the chest/torso and stay between the player and the basket. They can fake with their feet, eyes, the ball, and their hands. But their hips/torso can't fake.


Derick saka says:
4/21/2017 at 1:11:05 PM

how can I break through a tough defense zone

  1 reply  

Michelle Burrola says:
3/31/2023 at 10:25:46 PM

Just keep running your offense and be overly aggressive to the rim


sam says:
3/24/2017 at 9:58:13 AM

Great tips, great post. Thank you!


iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisss says:
11/16/2016 at 7:54:08 AM

very helpful thaks you very much


Deanna says:
9/27/2016 at 9:22:58 PM

this is good advice thx


Mike says:
7/19/2016 at 10:10:05 AM

If the ball handler is tentative, get up close, low stance, feet wide, up on the front of your feet, arms out. If you''ve been beaten once (hopefully not twice), and they haven''t proven to hit the outside shot, then back off a step or two and give yourself some distance, anticipate the dribble move, again light and ready on the front of your feet, but ALWAYS watch the belly button of the ball handler. This prevents you from getting taken by head fakes, ball swipes, fancy dribbling, etc. The extra space helps you react to whichever direction they choose and allows you to make up the distance and still cut them off. Since we cannot read ball handler''s minds, look for tendencies (everybody has them). If he/she mostly goes right, cheat to the ball handler''s right side and force them left, or vise versa.


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