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Coaching Advice: Seven Crucial Defensive Principles

Offense may put the points on the board, but every seasoned basketball coach knows that the chances of winning games without a strong defense are slim to none. Even when the offense is having a hard time scoring, a well-rounded defense can carry the team to victory by preventing the opposing team from scoring as well. It is, of course, the coach's responsibility to position his or her players in situations and roles according to their strengths and weaknesses in order to form the most team possible. It is also the responsibility of the coach to come up with a game plan that utilizes the skills of those players to the full advantage of the team. If you're a coach preparing your players for the upcoming season, take a look at these 7 principles for defensive basketball that can help you formulate an efficient team and develop a game winning strategy you can rely on.

  1. Communicate on defense at all times.

  2. Call out positions, (ball, help, post & cutter).

  3. Call out actions (shot, screen - switch, I got it – I got him).

  4. Call out the offenses of our opponents are in if we know them

  5. Pressure the ball, don’t let the man with the ball “stand and survey the court.”

  6. Deny penetrating passes into the paint: -posts, -post-ups, and –cutters.

  7. Away from the ball, be in position to help. Weak-side “I,” one pass away – gap, ball on wing – defend the elbow and block.

  8. Clearly define how you will defend screens between perimeter players, including ball screens, dribble hand-offs, flare screens, and down screens.

  9. Also, clearly define how you will defend big-to-little (post-guard) screens, including what you will do to stop the driver or cutter, and the man setting the screen.

  10. Finish all defensive possessions with a call out, a block out, and ball pursuit.

As you can see, there are plenty of methods and strategies which can help you build a basketball team with an impressive defense. After all, a team is practically nothing without its defensive game plan and a coach who can effectively use the skills of the players to benefit the whole team. Every single player on the roster should know exactly what it takes to play defense according to the coach’s philosophy. These 7 principles for defensive basketball can serve as a good sample starting point to give your players a better understanding of one of the most important components of a winning system. It's also recommended that you implement these principles or similar ones of your choosing into your daily practice routine to make sure your players are ready to lead the team to more victories by playing outstanding defensive basketball.

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