Why You Should NOT Step Slide On Defense

In this video clip from Man To Man Defense with Jim Huber, Jim talks about the step slide and how it can make you slower and less explosive.

And he explains a better alternative that will make your players quicker and more explosive when guarding the ball.

As mentioned in the video, sliding your back leg on the defensive slide can give you two problems.

  1. You wonít be explosive without pushing off your trail leg.

    Since you gain power from your trail leg to push and explode in the direction you want to go, sliding your back leg will reduce your ability to push off explosively and slide at an optimal speed.

  2. Friction slows you down.

    When you slide your back leg against the ground, this creates friction. Friction naturally slows you down. And this is the last thing you want when youíre guarding an offensive player. You need the ability to explode in any direction.

Thatís why we emphasize pushing or exploding off your back leg.

Hopefully, these tips will help you become a better defensive player.

Related Resources

Man to Man Defense with Jim Huber - The Ultimate Resource for Man to Man Defense

Breakthrough Basketball Camps


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Jeff Haefner says:
11/12/2014 at 11:29:02 AM

I do agree that having a "medium" width stance probably allows you move quicker and allows you to generate more force on your push step. However a wider stance makes it harder for the offensive players to get around you.

I think you will get lots of different opinions how to teach defense stance, the footwork, etc.

Personally, I keep it simple. I encourage a somewhat wide (but not too wide) stance to force the offense player to go "around" and veer out. I know a medium stance might be quicker... but I think width when you start out on the ball provides more benefit.

But the main thing I emphasize is to relentlessly pressure/harass the ball without getting beat to the basket. Stay between the offensive player and the basket.

9 times out of 10, a player will "push step" on their own because it's more efficient way to move. It's natural. However if they have trouble moving properly and developing good foot coordination, I will break things down for them teaching the push step, etc.

And I often encourage them to get in an "athletic position" and avoid the upright position at all times on defense (on and off the ball).

But generally I try to avoid over-coaching.

Now with our high school players, there are quite a few that learned bad habits (usually from well intentioned youth coaches) and we have to cover the push step with them.

But young kids, if you just give them good coaching cues they usually figure out efficient ways to move their feet on their own. At least that's what I have found with the teams I have coached.

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Omar Louis says:
11/11/2014 at 11:57:42 PM

Coach Huber gives you something to think about. I''ve frequently told my players to step slide and I agree that for many this might slow a defender down. However, I think it does comes down to how defensive movement is executed. What I like about Coach Huber''s technique is that the defender spends little time dragging his feet and quickness in getting to the next spot is emphasized. One last point, I think just as important as movement, is how the defender positions himself in his defensive stance. Often times I tell my players that it''s actually a "defensive sit" not a stance. I say "Knees bent.. Back straight.. Sit down in your position."


Devin W says:
11/11/2014 at 3:11:10 PM

One problem with both the push step and the step slide is the distance you cover on your first slide. A proper defensive stance includes a wide base on the balls of your feet. With a wide base already in place, there''''s a limit to the distance you can cover on that first step to cut off the offensive player. I believe this is the main reason why large nba size defenders have the biggest advantages defensively. Their legs are wide enough for a base that covers both sides a player can attack and they have the leg length left to stretch and explode off that push step. An alternative for smaller defenders might be to step inside with your back leg first and then push step to cover more ground in an effort to cut off the offensive player. Would love to hear what other people think about this. Thanks!


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