Main Body

6. Fundamentals – Defending


  • As a defender, your primary goal is to prevent your player from scoring or rebounding the ball. Depending on the strategy, if your opponent has the ball on offense and you are in a man-to-man defensive scheme, you need to figure out your opponent’s dominant hand. Logically, most players like to dribble to the side of their dominant hand. Thus, if an opposing player is right handed, you need to ideally position your body in such a way that discourages the right-handed opponent from dribbling to the right, forcing the opponent to the left.
  • Another key is making your opponent one-dimensional. If you cannot force your opponent to the direction of the non-dominant hand, keep your opponent on one half of the court. From an end zone view, think of the court as two halves vertically, with the goal in the middle. You have two sidelines running vertically, and imagine a line drawn from the rim of the goal straight to half court, running parallel to the sidelines. As a defender, you want to keep your opponent on either side of this imaginary line and force him/her to stay on that side.
    For example, suppose your opponent dribbles across half court and is in the middle of the court. The dribbling player has the option to go right or left. But, if you can angle your body in such a way that forces your opponent to dribble right or left and prevent them from changing direction, you are making them more one-dimensional. Why? Because you are using your body as a boundary from the dribbler going back toward that middle imaginary line, and the sideline is containing the dribbler from going toward the benches.


  • In terms of stance, when guarding your opponent, you should maintain a low wide stance, with knees bent, butt down, and back straight. It is best to shuffle your feet as you guard your opponent. This will allow you to more easily adjust to your opponent’s quick movements, resulting in a faster reaction time. One hand should be low, guarding the ball and preventing the cross-over, while the opposite hand should be raised in the air to deflect a pass or be ready for the opponent to shoot.
  • After your opponent shoots or passes the ball, be ready to box him/her out if s/he shoots, to prevent him/her from rebounding. But, if your opponent passes the ball off, be ready to cut quickly and try to predict the next spot your opponent is moving towards.

Watch the instructional video on the defensive stance


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Ch.1 - Basketball Copyright © by UGA PEDB Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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