An offensive player that is “closely guarded” (when a defender is no more than 1 metre away) has 5 seconds to shoot, pass or dribble, and if they don’t a violation is committed and the opponent gets possession of the ball (to be thrown in from the sideline). Accordingly, the player that has the ball must protect it from being taken by a defender and must do so in a way that allows the offensive player to pass, dribble or shoot.

Protecting the ball is not a specific technique to be taught, and instead the coach needs to ensure that there is defensive pressure at practice and to provide feedback to the players based upon the following considerations:

When under defensive pressure………….



  • Have two hands on the ball
  • Keep balanced with the head “up”, so that potential passes can be seen
  • Move the ball forcefully, knocking the defender’s arms out of the way if necessary.
  • Use fakes (drive fakes, shot fakes, pass fakes) in an attempt  to move the defender
  • Pivot away from the defender. In particular, a reverse pivot can be effective if the defender “chases” the ball.
  • Dribble backwards if necessary to create space to make a pass
  • Turn and twist only the upper body. Instead, step (pivot) away from the defender
  • Keep the ball in front of the body – move it to keep it away from the defender
  • Put the ball behind the head as it is difficult to pull the ball away from a defender in this position
  • Bend or lean away from the defender as this affects balance. Instead, step (pivot) away from the defender.
  • Keep your back to the basket, as this limits the area of the court you can see.

When there is a lot of defensive pressure on the ball, the “team” also has a responsibility to get open,
and should consider the following:

  • Move behind the ball – sometimes the easiest position to make and receive a pass is behind the player that has the ball.
  • Don’t stand in space – a player that is standing in an open space should move if they do not receive the ball. This will help create “space” for a team mate to cut.
  • If a defender is denying a pass, the offensive player should perform a backdoor cut towards the basket.