In this week’s team development feature, former Naismith High School Boys Basketball Coach of the Year Kevin Boyle breaks down effective ways to compete against bigger, more athletic teams on the defensive end of the floor.
Playing Foul-line to Foul-line
So how exactly do we guard people that are bigger than us? Well, if I am more athletic than you, the first thing I want to do is make the game full court. I want to play you between the foul-lines and not let you post up or pass to the wings and dump it in.
Additionally, look to get very aggressive and in the face of your opponent. Be active. Second, challenge every pass. And finally, when pressing or trapping, consider using a diamond press against a team with lower fundamentals. However, if it’s a well-coached team, they know where the traps are. Therefore, against the better teams you should trap man-to-man.
Don’t Double Bigs
Don’t double team big guys in the backcourt. Never waste the trap in this situation, even in the diamond press. Deny everyone else hard and make the big dribble up the court. With dribbling full-court as a likely weakness, this player is more likely to make a turnover.
Drill 1 – Score and Guard the Baseline
Use two players for this drill and start at midcourt. One player has the ball and will dribble hard to the basket and make a layup and the other one will follow. The trailing player gets the rebound.
Next, the shooter touches the foul line and gets ready to play defense against the rebounder on the baseline only. The player with the ball will shuffle side-to-side along the baseline and the defender must now guard aggressively wherever he goes. It’s about getting quickly on the ball after a make.
Drill 2 – The Inbound Pass Drill
Get four players for this drill. It’s essentially the same drill as before except now you are going to work on getting the ball inbounds. One player will work on getting open while the other will guard his man three-quarters. When guarding, dig into the opponent with your forearm and chest, push them low, be in a position to steal, and try to be in a good defensive position if they do get the ball. Get pressure right away.
Also, if you are facing a very athletic guard, it’s important to get below the level of the ball. In other words, the player previously guarding the inbounder will now drop and help defend the speedy guard dribbling up the floor.