In this position there are three techniques which in particular must be developed:

  • Containment (stopping them getting past the defender)
  • Turning the Dribbler (making them change direction)
  • Channelling the Dribbler (forcing them to dribble to a particular area on the court or towards another defender)

Rather than focus on the specific footwork (“big to bigger” or running), the coach should emphasise the position that the player needs to get to.

If they need to run, then run! If they can get to that position whilst using “big to bigger” then that is OK.

Most importantly, players need to develop a desire to beat their opponent and to not be beaten.

On Ball Defence - Containment

When an opponent has the ball, the defender must stop them from dribbling into the key. The defender must be balanced and ready to move into their opponent’s path, moving laterally to stop the offence moving forward.

Rather than wait for their opponent to move, the defender can force the offence to one side by standing with their feet outside one of the offence’s feet.

In this example, the defender is forcing the offence to the offence’s left.

A key teaching point for defenders is that they must always use two feet when defending the ball. As the offensive player moves the ball, the defender should adjust their position, moving BOTH feet.

If the defender only moves one foot, they will quickly be off balance. Similarly, if they reach for the ball without moving their feet, the offensive player will easily get past them.

On Ball Defence – Turning the Dribbler

“Turning the dribbler” is simply making them change direction. To do this, the defence must get directly in front of the offensive player – they must get their “head on the ball”, and have their chest facing the offensive player.

This position forces the offensive player to move in another direction because they cannot move in their original direction.

On Ball Defence – Channelling the Dribbler

“Channelling the dribbler” is making them continue in a particular direction and is used particularly when the offence has been forced towards a sideline and the defence want to keep them there.

The defender stays in front of the dribbler with the foot closest to the dribbler approximately at the dribbler’s shoulder and the defender’s chest opposite the ball.  The hand closest to the dribbler should be low (to stop a cross-over dribble) and the other hand should be shoulder height (to stop a pass).

“Guard 1 Step”

Players are in pairs, without a ball. One player is designated offence and they take one step (to whichever side they wish). Defender uses lateral footwork to maintain position.

“Guard the Catch”

Players are in pairs, with 1 ball.

Offensive player throws the ball to one side, moves after it and catches it (with feet in the air), landing in a stride stop (two count) and facing the basket. The defender does not intercept the pass, but moves to be in a good position as the ball is caught.

“Guard the Corner”

Players are in pairs, with 1 ball, and move to an area on the court where there is a marked corner.

The offence stands in the corner and must try to dribble out, the defender uses a lateral step to take the charge! If the offence steps on the line, they are out of bounds.

The offensive player may use fakes to get the defender off balance, whilst the defender should practice moving their feet first, rather than reaching for the ball.

“Close-out & Guard”

The defensive player defends the player with the ball to stop any penetration to the keyway. If offence can’t drive, they pass to the other offensive player.

x1 adjusts position, relative to the ball, and continues to defend the player that started with the ball.

The first offensive player relocates and receives pass back. The defender must Close-out and play contested 1x1.

“1x1 Catch Up”

Offence starts in the corner and defence starts at the foul line. Offence pass to the coach (under the basket) or in the post and the defender closes out to the coach.

The coach returns the pass to offence, who looks to make a lay-up at the other end. Defence must sprint after the offensive player in an attempt to guard them. Defence should use both the turning and channelling techniques.

Defensive Position On Ball
Channel Dribbler
Turning Dribbler