Basketball is a team sport but there is no doubt that talented individuals can have a significant impact upon the success of a team and it is commonplace for a team to employ specific tactics to reduce the impact of dominant players. Some coaches will adopt specific tactics to defend a dominant player, whilst others may be prepared to concede that the dominant player will score a certain number of points and to focus on limiting the performance of other players. The “Box and 1” defence discussed above is an example of a tactic that might be used against a dominant player.

With junior teams it is probably more effective to highlight particular aspects of an existing defence rather than devise something new to guard a dominant player. Most importantly though, is that the team has time to prepare and practice whatever the coach wants to do.

Double Team Post Players

Often where a team has a dominant post player, the defence may attempt to limit how often the player receives the ball. This can be done by “fronting” the post player so that no pass can be made. Alternatively, coaches may prefer their team to attempt to limit the effectiveness of the post player once they receive the ball.

Crowding the Post Player

When the ball is passed to a low post player, the wing defender may “hedge” toward the post (one or two steps) to reduce the space the post has to play.

This can be particularly effective against a post player that plays facing the basket.

The wing defender remains responsible for defending the wing player and must keep vision of them.

The wing player can go on either side of the post player, and this is influenced by where the post defender is positioned. If the post defender is low, the wing may crowd on the high side (which is the direction the post player may move).

Shown here, the post defender is high, so the wing defender moves low. They should play “butt to the baseline” – with their back facing the baseline to maintain vision of their opponent and the post player.

The option of “crowding” the post player effectively leaves a one on one contest between the post player and their defender. An alternate tactic is to double team the post player once they receive the ball in an effort to force them to pass or take a poor shot option.

Double Team Post

When double teaming the post, x5 takes a position on one side or another of the post player. This defines where the double comes from.

When x5 is on the baseline side, x1 double teams the post player, moving from the high “split line” position.

In double teaming, x1 should keep their hands high – reaching for the ball will often result in a foul.

Importantly, x3 denies a pass back to 3 and x2 rotates into a help position at the top of the key.

x2 must be active and adjust their position to potentially intercept any pass that the low post player may make.

When the post player does pass the ball, the defensive rotation is similar to when there was dribble penetration.

x2 rotates to the first pass and x1 moves to guard the next perimeter player. This means that x4 remains responsible for defending 4 and adjusts their position accordingly.

When the ball is passed to 1, x4 adjusts their position to defend 4. If 4 is a “driver” rather than a “shooter”, x4 may not move to a denial position, but will remain in a position to defend the penetration.

When the ball is passed to the opposite wing, the team could simply have x4 “close- out” and guard their player.

However, having x2 rotate to defend the wing enables more pressure on an outside shot and may be preferred if 4 is a good perimeter shooter.

As x2 rotates to 4, x1 rotates to deny the pass to 1 and x3 rotates into the key to a help position, and is responsible for defending 2. This leaves x4 in the key (and now responsible for defending 3), which can be very effective if 4 is likely to drive, as x4 will be in position to help if necessary.

Double Team from Low Position

If x5 is defending the low post player on the “high” side, x4 rotates across to double team. The double team needs to arrive as the ball is being caught, ensuring that the post player has no time to make any offensive move to the basket.

Again, following “help the helper” principles, x1 rotates to the low help position and x2 rotates to the high help position.

x3 continues to deny a pass to the wing, however if 2 was more of an offensive threat, x3 may sag toward the key to deny any pass to 2.

The team can rotate as indicated above, however this would require x5 to move to the perimeter and x1 to remain in the low help.

Alternatively, x1 can rotate to defend the “second pass” (the perimeter player nearest to where the ball was passed) and x4 returns to defend their player.

On a pass to the opposite wing (4), x1 could defend 4, x2 rotates to 1 and x3 rotates to the high help position.

If 4 is a known perimeter shooter, x2 may rotate to them. If 4 is a known driver, x1 should rotate, as they then have a better angle to defend any drive.

With junior teams, it may be preferable to use the same rotation regardless of whether the initial double team came from the high position or the low position.

Double Team Low Post From High Split
Double Low Post From Low Split
12 The NBA changed the shape and size of the keyway in an effort to reduce the dominance of George Mikan.