Defense isn't as much hard as hard work. Saying that we value defense isn't the same as rewarding it. I started my best defender last season as a matter of principle.
Prioritize communication and control (take away preferred options and force the ball where we want). If we don't communicate in practice, we won't in games. We're weak there and I own that.
Premortem examination. Where are the black swans (book by Nassim Taleb by the same name), obvious unaddressed problems after the fact? Avoid critical mistakes: 1) get back (transition), 2) find your player, 3) block out.
"Position in life is everything." Quick stance summary, play balanced, low, nose on the ball (on ball defender), challenge the ballhandler.
Pressure on the ball, position off the ball. "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." If you want to make an impression at tryouts, start with defense.
HELPSIDE 'I'. I believe that at more advanced levels, zones, changing defenses, and advanced techniques are vital for winning. But I coach middle school. We play man (individual assignment defense) "help and recover" defense. Development is the first priority, above winning.
"Know your NOs." No direct drives, no middle, no paint, no second shots, no bad fouls.
How are we going to defend pick-and-roll? Our first priority is taking away the drive. I want the 'bigs' to show (hedge, fake trap), but our slower bigs reflexly will talk and want to switch. This is a work in progress.
How can we contain closeouts? Teach proper technique but do not allow 'fly by' drives to beat us.
How do we defend the post? We teach "three quarters" technique but I'm open to considering fronting the post IF our perimeter defenders show they can apply enough pressure on ballhandlers.
How do we defend off ball screens? First, we must communicate better and get prompt defensive calls. Second, clog the middle. Third, whenever possible go THRU (between the screener and the screener defender). We're NOT playing NBA shooters in 7th grade. Late in quarters or end-of-game with short clock, we'd be switching. This deserves a much longer discussion (see video below)...good screening teams will make it hard to defend...but the main thing is taking away the easy shots.