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Coaching Your Basketball Team to Play Great Team Defense - Four Steps

Updated on February 19, 2014

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At the danger of sounding cliche, defense wins championships. No basketball team can be successful without playing good team defense. There are four words, all beginning with the letter "S" that can help a player remember how to play good defense.

As soon as the opponent gets the ball, the first thing a defender must do is Sprint. Fast break transition layups often occur because the defensive team does not make it a point to get back quickly enough. This can happen for many reasons - fatigue, laziness, just watching the ball, etc... Players should first be taught to sprint back on defense, turn around, and go from there.

Secondly, it is important that someone Stop the ball. Communication is key here. It doesn't take all five players to stop the ball - just one. The sooner this happens the better, but the progress of the person with the ball must be stopped after it crosses half-court. A good rule to follow is to make sure it stays outside of the three point circle. Definitely keep the ball out of the lane!

The third "s" is Steer. After a player stops the ball, it must be steered away from the middle of the court. If the ball is forced toward the sideline, it limits the number of options that the player has. Also, if your team plays some type of trapping defense, the sideline is the logical place for it to occur.

Finally, if your team is going to finish a successful defensive possession, each player needs to Stick their man. Games are lost because a team does not box out. Guards and post players alike share responsibility for rebounding. If every player "sticks" to their man when a shot goes up, a defensive rebound will usually result.

Playing great defense is a team task that is made up of a bunch of individual responsibilities. These four "s's" can help players remember their defensive responsibilities thereby making their team a great defensive team.


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