Defense: Off-Ball Defense

The next type of defense that you need to emphasize with your players is off-ball defense. I will often refer to this type of defense as help-side defense. If you have a player get beat when on-ball, having defenders ready ad able to stop penetration will be a huge benefit to your team. Teaching players what position they need to be in and how to rotate when helping on defense will take your teams to the next level.


Some teams are able to stay glued on to their defensive assignment and have no breakdowns but we are not one of those teams and I have never had one of those teams. The main teaching point that I emphasize when working with off-ball defense is that players must always see both their man and the ball.

Here are some other teaching points that I bring up when implementing off-ball defensive fundamentals:

  1. If your player is one pass away, you are around 2/3 of the way over and helping down.
  2. If your player is two passes away you need to get at least one foot in the paint to be in position to help.
  3. Side front the low-post.
  4. Play behind the high post.
  5. If your athlete is on the opposite side of the court, you need to be at the midway point of the court.
  6. Always bump cutters.

Defense: On-Ball Defense

The first type of defense that you need to emphasize with your players is on-ball defense. If you can lock down the person that you are guarding, then you are a tremendous asset to your team. As a coach, it is crucial to try and get your athletes to where they are able to be strong on-ball defenders.


It is a tremendous mistake when coaches teaches players to slide constantly in the full-court. Your athletes are going to have to be able to slide and sprint when guarding someone. A major point of emphasis that I always like to teach is watching the offensive players waist. You can fake with your eyes and fake with the ball but you cannot fake with your waist.

Here are some other teaching points that I bring up when implementing on-ball defensive fundamentals:

  1. Give a bit of a gap in order to stay in front of the defender.
  2. Push off with the opposite foot of the direction you are going in order to power into a defensive slide.
  3. Don’t reach at the ball or defender unless you know with 100% certainty that you are going to get the ball.
  4. When sliding, don’t allow your back foot to come over to far and work on balance.

Send Me Your Questions 10-7-2017

Saturdays are typically reserved for me to request our readers to send me their questions.


Please take a moment and think about any questions that you might want answered by me regarding any aspect of coaching and submit it to me via the contact page. I will make an effort to answer all questions by the following Saturday.

Defense: Stats & Goals

As you saw with the other fundamental series that I have written, I noted the importance of being able to track your progress through the use of statistics. Defense directly impacts your teams success and statistics will help figure the metrics of this out. If you can’t get stops, you can’t win games. You will need to learn your weaknesses as a way of finding what areas need improvement.


Statistically, teams who can’t get defensive stops won’t win ball games. You need to implement an aggressive defense that teaches effort, fundamentals, and not fouling.

Here are steps to tracking your defensive improvement:

  1. Look at stats for following categories.
  2. Track how many points per game that you allow.
  3. Track how many times your opponent gets into the paint with the ball.
  4. Track how many offensive rebounds that you give up.
  5. Chart the trend of your stats and look to see if the number improves. It is crucial that you compare this to notes on your defensive drills and determine if your issues are with on-ball defense, off-ball defense, and/or rebounding.

The goal that I have set for my teams is the following defensive stats:

Points Per Game Allowed- Less than 10 per quarter.

Touches In Paint- Less than 4 per quarter.

Offensive Rebounds- Less than 4 per quarter.

Defense: It’s Most Important

Defense is by far the most important skill in the sense that if your opponent can’t score, they can’t beat you. In addition to limiting your opponent on the scoreboard, great defense will provide your team with easy scoring opportunities. If you can be a disruptive defender and a tough rebounder, you will find yourself as a player that is in the games during crucial situations.


In todays game, players look mostly at scoring and the glory that is given to those who perform well on offense. Defensive stoppers do not exist like they used to and players who choose to commit to playing defense will find themselves getting more minutes on the court. If a player scores 26 points in a game but allows the person they are guarding to score 42, it doesn’t benefit the team.

Unlike some of the other fundamentals that I have outlined over the past few weeks, every player on your roster must be able to defend every position on the court. By having flexibility with where you can put your defenders, it will make your team very difficult to play against. For players, it benefits them to be ready for all potential situations as well.

Not only do I spend time in every practice on defense but I spend more time on defense than any other fundamental skill.

Passing: More Advanced Drills & Concepts

As your team starts to become more proficient with passing, you can start to teach more advanced concepts with passing. Being able to use passing to create scoring opportunities for teammates and also being able to think two passes in advance. A great teaching emphasis to help with creating scoring opportunities is teaching athletes to pass fake as well. Being able to get open lanes through pass fakes and looking at angles are just some of the advanced concepts.


As your teams start to take it to the next level, you need to start making the drills that you run in practice more difficult as well. Here are some of the more advanced drills that I like to run to improve passing:

  1. OSU Passing Drill. (2 players on the sideline on the right side and 2 on the left side spaced in the middle of the backcourt and frontcourt. Passer will throw a pass and run up the court to receive a return pass. They will repeat the pass to the next player before receiving a pass for a lay-up. This repeats on the other side). To take this drill to the next level, have your athletes use a medicine ball when passing.
  2. 3 on 2/2 on 1. (3 players work an a fastbreak against 2 defenders. After a shot or turnover the shooter will get back on defense. The 2 initial defenders become the offense in transition up the court). Emphasize quick scoring and limiting turnovers.

If you need a diagram of any of these drills or have questions about my descriptions, do not hesitate to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.