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Monday, March 12, 2018

Captain Obvious: A Few Thoughts on Defensive Teaching

Coaches help players see the game. We can't teach unless we have a coherent and unifying perspective. The ability to create and deny separation constitutes an important symmetrical theme. 

We can divide individual teaching into ball skills (e.g. dribbling, passing, shooting) and off-ball skills. We can't teach ball skills without the ball. Generically, players perform NINETY percent of the time without the ball. Players can learn a lot of the decision-making off-ball theory through film study. They then translate them into practice during drills and scrimmaging. 

Take any subject, like post defense. Ask a player their job and they may say, "prevent the post player from scoring." Factually true, tactically useless. We can follow through by asking "inversion" questions. 



In a classroom setting, we can ask:
1) where does the offensive player want to post?
2) how do they get the ball?
3) once they get the ball, what are our options?



We ask defenders, how could we defend (front, 3/4, behind) and the advantages and limitations of each. I teach post denial via ball pressure (lack of it encourages entry) and individual technique because problems (scoring and fouling) occur after entry. 

We can ask about digging and doubling (defending AFTER entry).


We can double and rotate (left) or double without rotation (my preference), because I consider it less risky. With younger players, we rarely encounter skilled post players.

Ball pressure. Defenders may hesitate to apply ball pressure through fear of getting beaten off the dribble. That can be a legitimate concern. How can we encourage perimeter defenders?



Consistency. Share persistent messaging. "Be the same guy." 
1. Attack mentality. Have a consistent mindset offensively and defensively.
2. Practice. Half and full court one-on-one defense. Two useful drills above.
3. Protection. Defense is 5-on-5. You will get protection from backside defenders.
4. Communication. Insist on talk, so defenders avoid 'wipeouts' from hard screens.
5. Pavlovian Conditioning. "Don't back down." "Nose on chest." "Head on ball." "Crawl into them."
6. Confidence. "I believe in you." Praise the praiseworthy. 

Feedback. Do players understand and practice what we preach? Soliciting and giving feedback is another central process. 

Priority. Is defense a priority (the techniques are emphasis) or lip service? I started one player each game because I valued her as our best on ball defender. But early in the season, I told her that she had earned that opportunity through her actions. That reinforces the value (minutes and contribution to team success) attached to defensive effort, technique, and tactics. 




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