How To Quickly Become Competitive and Save Your Season (With Drill Videos)

I really believe the tips and advice offered in this article can save your season. You can even end your season with parents giving you high fives after the last tournament.

How do I know? It happened to me.

Now, let me explain why I'm writing this article. I just received an email from a friend coaching youth basketball for the first time. It read...

"We just got beat 65-2. What do I do?"

And while I was responding, I thought... "Duh. You dummy (me). This happens to a lot of youth coaches. Why don't you share this advice with them. It's been at least five or six years since you've put this in the newsletter."

So here it is. But first, let me explain what NOT to do...

Do NOT Go To Plays And Zone Defenses

The knee-jerk reaction often is.... I need to run more plays and ball screens for my best players. I need to go to a zone defense. They want the quick fix.

But don't do it! While it might help you win a few more games in the short-term, it hinders your team's long-term development.

You may not even see the negative effects for a few years. But trust me, it will catch up with you. In rare situations, I've even seen it happen as late as varsity basketball.

I made this mistake early in my coaching career. I had a group that was terrible at man to man defense. Rather than taking the hits and fixing the problem, I just played zone defense.

I also taught a patterned offense rather than teaching them HOW to play. We won more games in each season for 7th grade and 8th grade than they did in all four years of high school basketball combined. They didn't win a game their senior year! I felt responsible for part of that.

These two articles address the issues of running plays and zone defenses at the youth level in more detail to give you a better understanding.

What Defense Should You Teach Youth Players (Zone, Man, Press)??

Should Youth Coaches AVOID Plays and Patterned Offenses?

The Solution To Becoming Competitive Quickly

Here's the bottom line... developing ball handling, shooting, passing, and footwork skills takes time. Teaching players how to play on offense takes time. And you should still do this every practice. However...

Depending on the severity of your situation, you might want to spend at least half of your practice solely on man to man defense at first. You should do this for the next few weeks.

And the rest of the season, spend at least one third of the practice on man to man defense.

Unlike offense, the defense can be developed quickly. It just takes focus, effort, and discipline.

In fact, one year at the 9th grade level, we got beat 73-19 and we started over from scratch. Actually, we did this over Holiday Break in late December and early January.

We started over with our defense like it was day one of practice. You can see the first steps and some of the drills that we used below.

Oh yeah... and we ended up losing to the same team later in the season by ONLY 4 points.

Another year at the 7th grade level, we started the season 1-5. Then we won our last four tournaments.

And look at what a subscriber also named Joe wrote in and said...

An Inspiring Story... Team Goes From 0-12 to 15-3 Championship Season!

"I started coaching a middle school team 3 years ago (all 6th graders). Like many coaches at this level, I was a parent volunteer and had little experience in coaching basketball. I got involved with the high school coach and got her involved with our program. She told me the players coming to her program cannot play M2M and their zone defense is even worse because they do not have the fundamentals.

I set clear goals (SMART goals) for the team and each girl. I scheduled and planned practices. We finished the year 0-12 only scoring 14 points a game and giving up almost 40. I reinforced with our team and parents that we are giving up the short term gratification of using "zone defense" for a long term foundation that will benefit the girls long after they are finished with their middle school careers.

The following year, we went 5-11 and only lost by an average of 8 points (26 ppg on defense). The last year they were in middle school, we won the championship. We went 15-3 with the best defense in the league (16 ppg) and the second best offense in the league (29 ppg). These were the same girls that went 0-12 just two years before.

We did it against mostly "zone" defenses. We didn't do it with more talent or different players. We did it through hard work and determination and learning how to play defense (footwork, positioning, deny, help and recover, rebounding, transitioning) while everyone else was fixated on winning now. Because our defense became so good, our offense improved dramatically. Our offense had to play and learn how to score against the best defense in the league every practice.

Coaches would ask me after games, "your team is tenacious; how did you get them to play M2M defense like that?" I would tell them," it started two years ago while you guys were beating us up with zone defenses."

I tell you this as a testimonial to working on building a solid foundation. That formula works for everything you will do in sports and, more importantly, in life. There are no short cuts to long term success."

- Joe

While it took Joe a season to start to see results, we didn't have the exact steps and videos for him to use at the time. Our advice below can speed up the process.

Either way, I would talk to the parents and tell them it can take seasons to do this. You're building for the future. That way, there aren't unrealistic expectations.

The Devil Is In The Details (Important To Read)

Before we get to the steps necessary to build a great foundation for man to man defense, this is highly important for your success.

When you watch Coach Huber teach players in his Man to Man Defense System, he demands excellence in regards to effort, execution, and focus.

It's not just what he does. It's HOW he teaches. It's HOW he demands that players do things properly.

It's also important to be demanding without being demeaning. You can still coach in a positive, upbeat manner while letting your kids know what needs to be done.

6 Stages For A Great Foundation For Man to Man Defense To Win More Games IMMEDIATELY

In Jim Huber's Man To Man Defense Videos, these are the foundational stages for a great defense. Of course, there is more drills, tips, and steps in the videos, but this is a great start. And it will help you get more competitive.

You should be proficient in these stages before spending more time on the more advanced stages.

Stage 1 - Get the players on board and introduce the defense.

You need to sell your players on the importance of defense.

Stage 2 - Teach players how to play defense on the ball. Show them the proper defensive stance, how to push-step, quick turn, sprint, contest shots, and pressure the basketball.

Stage 3 - Show players how to properly close out on the ball.

Stage 4 - Practice blocking out and rebounding. This is vital to every great defense. One shot and out.

Stage 5 - Introduce how to position your players when the ball is one or two passes away.

Stage 6 - Combine on-ball defense and help defense with the variations of the shell drill.

Jim Huber And The Best High School Defense In The Nation!

For those of you that don't know Coach Huber, Jim has coached everywhere from 3rd grade to the college level.

He coached a club named MOKAN, a Nike EYBL team in 2013. The EYBL is equivalent to the NBA of high school basketball. Most of the best high school players play there.

However, Coach Huber lacked one top 50 player on his team. This was a rarity in the EYBL. And he had to defend these guys.

  • Jahlil Okafor - Duke and 3rd pick in NBA Draft
  • Tyus Jones - Duke and 1st round NBA Draft pick
  • Tyler Ulis - Kentucky and 34th pick in NBA Draft
  • D'Angelo Russell - Ohio State and 2nd pick in NBA Draft
  • Stanley Johnson - Arizona and 8th pick in NBA Draft
And guess what, he was ranked #1 in defensive points per game in the league. They even made the end of season tournament which only takes the top 16 teams.

If you'd like to learn how Jim Huber teaches his entire system step by step, check out his Man to Man Defense videos.

Coach Huber reveals all of the teaching points, corrections, and drills (50+) necessary to have a great defense.

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


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Austin Pectol says:
11/24/2017 at 10:29:00 AM

I always start out teaching Man and the basic concepts of help defense, stance, etc. I normally move to a zone/press/man so we have options.

We are a small jr high so often we are the less talented team and just can’t matchup man on man. But you MUST start there for them to learn how to play as a unit and help on the backside.


Gustavo Woltmann says:
1/1/2017 at 10:05:50 AM

I agree with you with the pattern offense rather than teaching them the way to play. It is really true that practice makes perfect.

- Gustavo Woltmann


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