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Body Language.

How it can help defensive players respond to offensive moves

"What do I do when my man cuts somewhere and I cannot see both her and the ball at the same time?"

Every coach has been asked this question after introducing the all-me-man defensive concept to her young players, and she had better be prepared with an answer.

The ball-me-man concept is the foundation of man-to-man defense. By staying between the ball and the opponent, the defender can see both at the same time and thus deny the cut and the pass.

What happens if the defender is forced to choose one or the other?

Some coaches believe it is more important to see the ball. But this can create a problem. If the defender is forced to open up her stance in order to keep sight of the ball, she my lose sight of her "man" altogether - allowing the latter to cut to another part of the court, leaving the defender behind.

So, you may ask, what's the point of knowing where the ball is if you allow yourself to be totally separated from your "man?" You're going to find it difficult to defend the basket.

I prefer to have the defender focus on the player she is guarding. This will enable her to defend the basket against a cut and box out (and rebound) on any shots.

Since defending the basket and boxing out are fundamental responsibilities, it is essential to stick with your "man" rather than turn away from her to see where the ball is.

There is another good reason for following the opponent whenever she cuts. It will give the defender an opportunity to deflect any pass thrown in her direction.

Remember, whenever the defender is left behind, her immediate reaction will be to re-establish a position that will allow her to defend the basket and box out on a shot.

She can, while recovering her position, try to deflect any pass coming her way. Why, your may ask, should a player even consider a pass deflection at this time? Because whenever a ball-handler sees a teammate separated from her defender and the defender's back is to the ball, the situation seems to shout, "Easy basket! " - invite a pass from the ball-handler.

It my be a delusion. A defender who cannot see the ball but knows what to look for, can do two things: (1) check her opponent's eyes to see whether they are fixed on the basketball moving toward her, and (2) see whether her opponent is moving both hands forward as if preparing for a catch.

That is why coaches teach players to recognize "body language" while recovering to defend the basket. The opponent's eyes and hands can tell the defender whether or not the ball is being thrown her way, even if she doesn't know exactly where the passer is.

Recognizing such body language and knowing what it means will give the defender an opportunity to compensate for her poor positioning.

What she will usually have to do is close the gap between the cutter (her "man") and herself and check the opponent's body language. If it indicates a pass is on the way, the defender can thrust her hand between the opponent's outstretched arms and deflect the pass.

If, for any reason, the defender is not close enough to deflect a pass, she must still close the gap enough to force the offensive player to shoot a contested shot.

Whatever happens - whether the pass to the cutter is completed or she takes a contested shot - the defender must then concentrate on boxing out the shooter and rebounding the shot (if missed).

Summing Up

Defensive players who elect to see the ball instead of the man will increase their chances of losing their "man" (on a cut), of being unable to defend the basket, and of doing a bad job of boxing out.

By staying with their "man" (despite losing sight of the ball), the defensive players will increase their chances of doing all of the above plus creating turnovers.

So, when a player says, "What do I do when I can't see the man and the ball as the same time?", you tell her to keep her eyes on the ball and the body language, and then show her why.
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Article Details
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Author:Herrin, Beverly Ann
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 1999
Words:719
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Next Article:Essentials in the Development of Defensive Tackles.
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