Stay in stance
Trace ball, active hands
*Take all fakes with both feet straight back*
Step/slide-feet wide
Beat to a point Get back in stance
Jump in the direction of every pass
2 steps to the ball
1 step to the basket
Adjust to your man

In the key or split the court, back to the baseline
No more than 2 steps off of the Ball-man line
Pistols (point to man and ball)

Arm swing to explode out, head snap to slow down
Absorb speed with chop steps
Read the offense( Shooter or a driver)

Chest to chest
Hand in passing lane
Chin to shoulder to see the ball

1.  ZigZag  
2. Mirror Drill    
3. 1 on 1 plus a player    
4. Crazy Man 
5. Attack On Balance     
6. Tom & Jerry
7. Center Line
8. Vegas Drill
9. Dig/Close Out
10. Shell D


Ball/Man LineWhen you are guarding a player without the ball in man to man defense, it is important to be aware of the "ball/man line". The ball/man line is an imaginary line between your man, and the man with the ball. You should be on the basket side of the ball man line and away from your man enough to help your teammates. This position helps form what is called the "defensive triangle"
Cover DownWhenever the ball penetrates on a pass or a dribble, all players should cover down to the level of the ball and force it back out. When the ball is dribbled toward the baseline, the nearest help side defender must quickly stop the ball before it reaches the lane. If the ball is passed to the post, we keep him from dribbling by quickly covering down. When we cover down to the baseline from on top. When the ball is passed back out, all players recover to their man. USE THE CLOSEST MAN TO THE BALL RULE ON RECOVERY.
Defensive TriangleOn Defense always be able to see your man and the ball (this is when your man doesn't have the ball). When your man is 1 pass away, you can deny the player from getting the ball. You must be in a defensive triangle position with you, the ball and your man. Flatten out the triangle, with you at the center point of the triangle. Try to get a hand in the passing lane(straight line between the ball and your man). Position your head so that you can see both with your peripheral vision. Then slide up and back with your man, keeping that triangle position.
Double DownThis is a defensive strategy that is used when a very good low post player gets the ball. When the ball is passed to the post, the perimeter (outside) player quickly will double team the post player. This will make it difficult for a good post player to make their offensive move and force them to pass the ball back out.
Jump to the BallAny time the ball is passed YOU MUST JUMP TO THE BALL. Make gradual, quick, immediate adjustments in your stance. You must be in position before the ball is caught. Jumping to the ball allows you to be in proper position to front cutters, avoid screens (be a moving target), and help teammates. Any time the ball is dribbled you must make the proper ball side or help side adjustments in positioning.
Quick Help and Early RecoveryThere is no such thing as helping too quickly. When your teammate steers the ball into the next gap, be ready to provide quick help with your rear to the ball. When you help, you must recover on line to your man as the ball is picked up.In all screening situations you must talk, provide quick help and then recover early.
Strongside Lane ClosureStrongside lane closure is the way you play defense when your man passes the ball and cuts to the basket. As soon as your player passes, make a quick jump to the ball side of your man, and slide down the lane with your player, putting yourself in the passing lane, and denying a pass from going into your man.
Weakside DefenseWhen your man is 2 passes away from the ball, you must learn to play weakside or help defense. Help defense means just that... if someone else's man is driving to the hoop and has beaten the defender, you must leave your man and move to a position in front of them with both feet on the ground, (facing the player)and stop the drive; then once the ball is stopped, go back to your man. Point one hand to your man and the other to the ball and maintain a position that allows you to see both your man and the ball. Align yourself with the center of the basketball floor. Stopping the ball, no matter who is guarding him, is your first concern. This contributes to good team defense.
Weakside Lane ClosureYou are in your weakside defensive stance in line with the basket, pointing to your man and the ball. Weakside lane closure to how you defend a player on the weakside who cuts to the ball.What you must do as your player cuts towards the ball is to slide up into deny position, make contact with the cutter, and make him cut behind you. As he cuts behind you, you then still deny the pass into your man.
Close DownThis is a strategy to use when you are coming to defend a player from a distance away, such as sprinting out to your man on a skip pass after help defense . What you do is sprint half way to your player and then in a low defensive position, use shuffle steps to assume good defensive position.
Contest All ShotsNever allow an opponent to shoot the ball uncontested. The problem, however, with players attempting to block shots is the tendency to commit fouls. Therefore, the proper way to contest a shot is to stay on your feet facing the shooter until the shooter leaves his or her feet, then attempt to get your hand on top of the basketball. At the very least, get a hand up so it limits his vision of the basket or he has to shoot over you. While you may not block the shot, you will put the shooter under a maximum amount of pressure.
Defensive SlideThe proper way to move when guarding the dribbler is to step and push off. This is accomplished by stepping sideways with the lead foot (the foot closest to the direction in which you wish to go), then pushing off with your trail foot to catch up. Always keep your feet in contact with the floor. Stay low and keep your feet wide. Make quick slides.
Force BaselineOn the defensive side, force baseline because the baseline is an excellent defender. The baseline won't move and will always get in the way of the offensive dribbler. The backboard is also a good defender in that the dribbler can often times get behind it. With the on-ball defender, possible off-ball help as well as the baseline and backboard, that can make one heckuva trap if the ball-handler picks up his dribble.
Half a Man AheadWhen guarding the dribbler, your head should be even with the ball, which puts you slightly ahead of the man you are guarding. Make the dribbler turn and change directions. This will slow him down and make it more difficult for the dribbler to beat you.
On The Ball DefenseOne of the most important defensive concepts is the theory of keeping your body between your man and the basket. Your defensive positioning should always be between the ball and the man you are guarding. Be within an arms reach of your man, so you can put pressure on the ball. Focus on his belly button...where it goes, he will go. You can be faked out by his eyes, head and shoulder fakes. Try to make him go where he doesn't want to go. From the middle of the court... force him to the sideline. From a wing position, force him baseline 12-15 feet away from the basket.
Pressure the BallA key to being a good defender is to always put pressure on the ball. Don't let an offensive player do anything with the ball--dribble, pass, or shoot--without having one of your hands trying to get into the way. Force him to his weakest side. Make him go where he doesn't want to go.
StanceThe proper defensive stance is necessary in order to play good defense. On the ball, feet should be shoulder width apart, with the knees bent, and your butt down and your back straight. Your hands should be outside your knees with the palms up. You should be low(your nose to your man's chest) in "nose-chest" position. When you are low, you can change directions more quickly, which is a key for playing great defense.
Wall SitsA great exercise for increasing the strength and stamina needed in the legs for defense is wall sits. Take a position as if you were sitting in a chair with your back flat against a wall but with nothing underneath you to support your weight. Gradually build up the amount of time that you can do this.
Watch his midsectionWhen guarding the dribbler, watch his midsection(waist). He can't go anywhere without it, and you won't fall for foot fakes or ball fakes.
Defensive post position.If a defender is posting you up (having his back to the basket looking for the ball)try to get in front and deny him the ball. If you can't, get a good wide base and don't let him back you in any deeper.Any contact with his elbows on your chest should be a foul on him.
High Post DefenseThe basic rule for guarding the high post(post player at the free throw line) is to deny the pass in from the side. This is a position where the defensive player is at the ball side of the post player, with the forward arm denying the pass into the post. Use the back of your other hand to maintain contact with your man. When the ball moves to the other side, go on the basket side of your man and assume the side denial position on the other side.
Low Post Defense-ball above the Free throw lineif the ball is above the free throw line extended(imaginary line extending from the free throw line to the sideline), then you should deny on the high side. You should be chest to chest with the post player with your arm closest to the ball in the passing lane.
Low post defense-ball is below the free throw lineIf the ball is below the free throw line try to get around the post player and "Full Front". Your teammates will need to help you on any lob pass. The post player probably is not going to want you in this position, so it is a constant fight for position between the post player and defender. Be active and try to AVOID contact. The post player will have more trouble "pinning" you in a position where they can receive the ball.
Low Post Defense-he's pushed you outThe low post player might try to push you out after you "full front". If you get out too far you can release and get behind so that your feet are OUTSIDE of the key. Now you are between him and the basket and have him 12'-15' away. This makes it a tough shot for the offense and you have rebounding position.
Blockout and OutletThe defensive effort is completed when we have POSSESSION OF THE BALL. When the ball is shot we must have ALL FIVE PLAYERS fulfilling their rebound responsibility until the ball is CHINNED. The team will rebound covering the paint in a triangle shape. Then you can outlet the ball and apply your offensive pressure with the primary and secondary break.
Transition and CommunicationQuick, organized transition with communication by all five players is a must for a great defensive team. You must STOP THE BALL. You must sprint to the level of the ball, eliminate all cheap baskets, and make opponents go against your set defense. NO LAYUPS, NO THREES, NO FOULS, NO SECOND SHOTS
Why play a zone defense?A team should look to play a zone if their opponents can't attack it consistently, they can't guard the opponent man-to-man, they need to control an excellent penetrating guard, and finally, they can sandwich (or front and back) the post player.
#1 Pressure on the BasketballAlways try to put defensive pressure on the player with the basketball. Pressure makes the offense worry more about the defense than what they are supposed to do in their offense. Rick Majerus, the coach at the University of Utah, says that pressure is when the referee is counting. If the defense is within 6 feet, the offense can only hold or dribble the ball for 5 seconds each. Play close enough to the ball to try to get a "5 count"
#2 Jump to the passWhen you are on defense, every time someone passes the basketball, take a few steps in the direction that it is thrown. This will put you in a position to stop your man if he tries to cut to the basket. You also will be in the right spot to help your teammates, if their man dribbles by them.
#3 See your man and the basketballAlways be able to see your man & the man with the basketball. You need to be able stop your man AND help your teammates if they get beat on the dribble.
#4 Stop the basketballWhen on defense, react to the basketball and help your teammates. The only man that can score is the man with the ball. If he`s open - go guard him. If he passes the ball back to your man, sprint back and be ready to pressure him again.


Our defensive strategy is based on the true analogy that "the strength of the Wolf is the Pack." In other words, we feel like we have a better chance at stopping our opponent from scoring by always trying to outnumber him at the point of attack... Our defensive strength is in our numbers (team defense). 

To make our  defense even stronger, we use the following defensive tactics: 

1. Convert. Sprint back on defense. No transition baskets. Protect the basket first, then pick the ball up at the 28-foot line. Then find your man. Remember: Basket-Ball-Man. Everyone else is inside the 3-point line protecting the red zone. We want to shrink the area that our defensive players have to cover. 

2. See the ball! Stay alert and keep vision. Know where the ball is at all times. All five of our players have the responsibility to stop the ball and to protect the red zone. 

3. Apply maximum pressure on the ball. We want intense pressure on the ball at all times. The man guarding the ball must not allow the ball-handler to see the court, to shoot the open shot, or to dribble to the middle of the court. The only option he should have is to dribble the ball towards the sideline. 

4. Deny all penetrating passes. We want to play "ball-you-man" defense inside the 3-point line. Our defensive position is "on the line, up the line." We must not allow the offense any "touches in the lane." We allow all non-penetrating passes. 

5. Hand up on every shot! We must not give any rhythm shots. We want to contest every shot. 

6. Touching distance at reception. Always close out with your hands high and keep your inside foot up. 

7. Know who you are guarding - his number and his game. 

8. Stop dribble penetration. We must apply intelligent pressure on the ball without allowing dribble penetration into the red zone... Give a cushion. 

9. If you are getting beat off the dribble, turn and run to re-establish position. 

10. When the ball goes up, the hands go up. We must keep our hands active and high. We want to eliminate vision. We must deny vision to shoot the ball, and vision to pass the ball into the red zone. 

11. Belly-up and mirror the ball with your hands high when the dribbler picks up his dribble. We must eliminate vision. We cant allow the man with the ball to pass into the red zone. 

12. Angle the ball to the sideline. Always force the dribbler outside towards the sideline. We want to keep the ball out of the middle 1/3 of the floor. 

13. Quick Help. We must always give quick help. You can never help too early to protect the red zone. 

14. Protect the gaps. We must always give quick help on the inside gaps. 

15. Pinch and stop ball. The closest defender from the ball must always be ready to stop ball by jamming the open gap with his inside foot up. We must not allow dribble penetration into the red zone. 

16. Never allow your man to cross your face. Always try to "check" the cutter and force him behind you. You must always stay between your man and the ball. 

17. No middle, no middle, no middle! Always keep your inside foot high, and work hard at denying dribble penetration back to the middle of the court. 

18. Dead front the low post. We dead front all low post players when the ball is on the wing. Dead fronting is the easiest way to keep the ball out of the red zone, and it makes it easier to give quick help in stopping baseline drives. If you get forced out too far, get behind in the "Smile". (see terminology)

19. Weak-side defenders must sag and zone. We want our weak-side defenders to be in the middle of the red zone in an open stance. Be in a position that allows them to see both the ball and their man. 

20. Sink to the level of the ball (ball line). All defenders must sink to the level of the ball and protect the red zone. 

21. Talk on defense. A great defense is a talking defense - "ball," "basket,"  "check" , "screen," "help", and "shot." 

22. Anticipate on defense. We want to look to intercept all lob passes and lazy bounce passes. We only go for the steal if we can catch the ball with two hands. 

23. Hard fouls. We only foul for profit, and when we do, we make them hard. Never foul a player that is not an offensive threat. 

24. Trap the low post. When the ball goes into the low post, we must trap from on top. 

25. Defeat the screen. We must stay alert and be hard to screen. Get "thin" We want to fight through screens and keep on moving. 

26. Switch on hard screens if necessary. We believe that the open shot is what gets you beat, not the mismatch. The only screen that we will never switch is ball-screens. 

27. Always protect the red zone when your man sets a screen. The defender guarding the screener always opens up and protects the red zone (no pass or dribble penetration). 

28. Fill and sink on the baseline. When the ball is dribble penetrated along the baseline, our closest help-side defender must step out (fill) and stop the ball outside of the red zone. Our remaining help defenders must relocate to the ball line (sink) and protect the red zone. 

29. Every time the ball moves, you move.All five defenders move as one on the airtime of the ball. 

30. Know who and where the shooters are. These are the only players we overplay. 

31. We must not let the great player catch and shoot. To stop the great scorer, we must deny him the ball as much as possible. 

32. Look to take the charge! After planting your feet, stay low and wide in your stance with your hands up. Keep your weight on your heels, and when you're hit, fall backwards and make a loud noise. Try to land on your butt with your chin tight to your chest. 

33. Dive on the floor after all loose balls. These are the guys that win championships. 

34. Be tough on defense. Each possession is a battle.The team that wins the most battles wins the game. 

35. Commit to defense! Great defense is all about "heart" and "hustle." 

36. Closeout with high hands. When closing out, we must sprint under control, get our hands up, stay low and wide, and make sure we have our inside foot up. 

37. Sprint three steps, and throw hands up. When weak-side help closes out after a skip pass, we want our defender to sprint three steps, and then throw his hands up. Always try to pressure the shot, deny the pass penetration into the power zone, and stop dribble penetration to the middle of the floor. 

38. Block out! Make contact on all block-outs then get in the "Golden Triangle." Be aggressive and go get the ball. Blocking-out is every day, every drill, all the time. 

40. Rebound! Finish - no second and third shots. 

adapted from principles by Coach Brad Winters








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