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The Fundamental Building Blocks of MAN DEFENSE.

Basic drills for youth league players

ONE ASPECT OF YOUTH basketball that the experts appear to agree on is that although young players continue to advance to higher and higher levels of the game, they never learn how to play man defense.

We all know that zone defense is easier to teach, but our high schools and colleges continue to gravitate toward man defense with gimmick zones.

In all of my years of coaching (middle school, high school, and college), the most frequently heard criticism from high school coaches has been that the players don't know how to play man defense.

Since all defenses, including zone, is predicated on man-to-man principles, we'd like to present the true and tried building blocks and drills to use with young players.

1 Stance and movement.

The teaching process should begin with the defensive stance: feet shoulder-width apart and staggered, with one foot slightly higher than the other, knees bent, hips down, back slightly arched, arms extended ready to apply pressure, and the head steady at the midpoint of the body to help maintain balance.

Once the stance has been taught, the movement within the stance comes next. This is a step-and-slide motion in which the feet never cross. Crossing the feet will throw the defender off-balance and give the offensive man the advantage.

Diag. 1 shows a simple, but effective step and slide drill, in which each player slides down the sideline, to half-court in his defensive stance.

Upon reaching half-court, the player will drop-step and continue sliding on an angle to the dotted circle in the lane. The player will then take another drop step on an angle to half-court and follow up by sliding down the sideline to the baseline and then return to the starting line.

After teaching the stance and the movement within the stance, you are now ready to advance to the next building block.

2 Guarding the Ball.

In guarding the man with the ball, the main objective is to force the offensive man to dribble in a direction he doesn't want to go. Normally, the defender will try to force the attacker to his or her weak hand (the hand he is uncomfortable dribbling with).

The objective is for X to force O to dribble in the opposite direction. He must slide and beat the attacker to the spot and force a change of direction. This is done all the way to the opposite sideline (half-court) or baseline (full court).

Upon reaching the other end, the two players will switch roles and return to the opposite side of the court.

Our other popular drill is the Drive and Contain (Diag. 3). This is more of a live action drill that allows the attacker and defender to go one-on-one to the basket.

O starts on the wing and can drive to the basket either left or right. X must stop O from getting to the basket by either forcing a bad shot or causing a turnover (steal).

Once the defender has been taught how to play on the ball, you can move on to Building Block 3.

3 Defending Away from the Ball. While guarding an offensive man without the ball, but in position to receive a pass, the defender must take a denial position in the passing lane between the ball and the receiver so that he can see both. This is known as the ball-you-man principle.

Denial Stance: The top foot (the one closer to the ball) is in the passing lane and the top hand (the hand closer to the ball) is out in the lane with the palm facing the ball. The extended arm will give the defender an opportunity to deflect any pass.

In our Denial Drill (Diag. 4), a coach or another player (C) will have the ball at the point, with O in a wing position and X taking his denial position. The offensive man (O) can try to get free for a pass anywhere on his side of the court (the offense remains on the same side of the court).

The defensive objective is to prevent the pass from getting to the offense by either deflecting or intercepting it (steal).

Having covered individual defense on the ball and away from the ball, we are ready to advance to the next building block.

4 Helping Out.

Team defense starts with a help action for the teammate defending the ball. When the offense is either too far away from the basket to score or is more than one pass from the ball, the other defender must take a help-out position.

We use a Help-and-Recover Drill for this purpose (Diag. 5). It uses two offensive players (1 and 2) and two defensive men (X1 and X2). O1 (with ball) starts the drill with X1 defending, while X2 drops off his man to set up in the foul circle in a help-out position.

X2 has the job of forcing 1 to pick up his dribble and pass out to 2. X2 will then jump out to defend 2 while X1 will become the help-out man in the foul circle (Diag 6). The drill will continue with 2 driving against X2 and being picked up by X1.

Once each of these blocks have been learned, it is time to put everything together into your team defense.

5 Team Defense.

The building blocks now form the foundation of your defense and it becomes a team game. Even though this is called man defense, it is not just one player defending, it is the entire team taking different responsibilities.

Most high school coaches teach man defense with the Basic Shell Drill shown in Diag. 7. It positions four offensive players (two at the top of the circle, 1 and 2) and two in the corners (3 and 4) against four defensive players (X1, X2, X3, and X4).

The drill helps teach defensive responsibilities on both sides of the court -- ball side and help side. As shown in Diag. 7, ball side is the side that the ball is on and help side is the one away from the ball.

The drill begins with the ball at one of the points (2) and the defense in a box. X2 guards the ball (as shown in Diag. 3). X3, who is on the ball side, is one pass away in a contesting denial position on the corner attacker. X3 plays him in the manner shown in Diag. 4; X1 and X4 drop off their men into the painted area to help and recover.

As the ball is reversed, the help responsibility changes as shown in Diag. 8.

The defensive players move to new positions. When 1 has the ball, X1 will guard him, X4 will take a contesting position, and X2 and X3 will help out. (See Diag. 8.)

Whenever the ball moves to the corners and 3 has the ball, X3 will guard the ball, X2 will contest, and X1 and X4 will help out.

If the ball goes to 4, X4 will guard it, X1 will contest, while X2 and X3 help out.

The objective of the defense is to jump into their new positions as the ball is being passed around to the four offensive players.

In teaching man-to-man defense to youth players, every coach should do as every high school and college coach does -- start with the building blocks. It makes everything easier for both players and coaches.

A knowledge of man defense will make the team more versatile and capable of learning other defenses.
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Title Annotation:basketball drills
Author:KEATING, GARY
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:1261
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