We encourage all junior teams to follow the basic man-to-man defense fundamentals below.
Defensive Stance – Feet should be approximately shoulder width apart, with your knees bent (knees over toes), back straight and head up. Your weight should be evenly balanced on the balls of your feet and your arms should be up with palms forward.
Defensive Slides – When guarding your opponent on the move, we refer to what is called a defensive slide. Using quick, short steps (without crossing your feet over) you move your strong side / lead foot first. If you use your ‘Defensive Stance’ as a starting point, your first step see’s your stance become wider, then your second step see’s you return to balance. The aim when sliding is to stop your offensive players intended path to the basket – turn them to an alternative direction or make them pick the ball up.
Note: There are more advanced defensive movements, however we encourage the more traditional; ‘Defensive Slide’ be adopted in the early phases of development.
Man-to-Man Defensive Spacing
This is where we start throwing in team defensive concepts – these are much easier to instill as offensive spacing develops. The two go hand-in-hand and if repetition is provided during team training sessions, development will naturally occur at a faster rate.
Ball – when you are guarding the player with the ball. In your defensive stance (defensive slide if on the move) you want to maintain about an arm’s length between you and the player with the ball.
Denial – when your offensive player is one pass away from the ball. In your defensive stance, you want to be one step off your player, towards the ball. Encourage an open defensive stance, chest up the court to maintain vision on both your own player and the player with the ball.
Help – when your offensive player is two passes away from the ball. Again in your defensive stance, you want to be on split line (an imaginary line length ways down the middle of the court). This discourages the offensive team to penetrate the key but also allows enough time for you to ‘close out’ should the ball get quickly passed to your direct opponent.
Close Out – when the ball is passed to your offensive player, you must move towards them quickly and in a low stance (balanced). Your first 1-2 steps are long, your last several are short and quick as you throw your hands up to deter a shot. Because you are already in a low stance, you are able to shift into a defensive slide without losing balance.
Man-to-Man Rules and Rotations
There are so many concepts available to adopt when it comes to man-to-man rules and rotations, we won’t confuse the intent of this document by diving too deep. When introducing man-to-man defense to young basketball players in a team environment, we encourage you to utilize the Shell Drill as your main teaching base.