Becoming a great defender is not an easy thing to accomplish. It takes a certain dedication and athleticism to steer your opponents away from the basket and counter offensive moves while keeping enough distance so as to not foul or give up easy baskets. While athleticism is an ongoing skill that you increase by coming stronger and quicker, dedication is a bit harder to describe let alone teach. My best description of what dedication is or how to describe is to ask this question “How great is your attention to detail?”. When the ball is being passed around and your team is communicating to keep the opposing team from scoring, your attention must span the width of the court to constantly be looking for the ball at the same time keeping track of the player your guarding. When you are an on-ball defender there is opportunity to disrupt your opponent and get them out of their planned set or play. Your “attention to detail” is what gives you this opportunity. Also remember, the better defender you are, the more playing time you will get. Being a poor defender is #4 on our list of signs that you are a bad basketball player.
You Close The Gap
Pay attention to the body language of your opponent. When a player is tired it is common to see them standing up straight with no athletic stance whatsoever. When you see a player like this it is great time Close the gap between you and him/her. Taking another step towards your opponent can sometimes be enough pressure to make them turn their back or expose the ball long enough to get a deflection or steal.
You Don’t Get Caught Standing
While standing up is an opportunity you look for from your opponent, don’t make the mistake of taking it easy yourself while the ball is in front of you and get caught standing up. Simply put, if you are not in an athletic position to move and react to your opponent then you will get beat to the rim and you will have shooters looking for a chance to have you guard them. Consider it a cardinal rule of defense that if you are standing up on defense you are practically playing for the other team. There’s a reason they say players who move without the ball are more effective so you might want to stay in a defensive stance.
You Push The Offense To The Sidelines And Baseline
The ultimate goal of defense is to protect the basket. Use your defensive stance to continuously be angling your opponent to the sideline or baseline. Use the lines of the court as an extra defender to trap and disrupt the flow of the offense and force unwanted passes than result in deflections and steals for your team.
By adding these characteristics to your defensive effort you dramatically improve your court awareness and become a more effective defender. Performing these acts are an example of your dedication to being a great defender and better player overall.