20 Basketball Defense Tips


basketball defense tips

Learn 20 fundamental basketball defense tips that will make the difference between winning and losing. These coaching tips provide important defensive fundamentals for your youth basketball team.

Kindergarten basketball players and other beginners won't be able to grasp all of these concepts yet.

Focus on just a few to get started. If they can just learn some of the basics, they'll have a lot more fun playing the game.

Youth Basket Ball Training
Basketball Defense Coaching Tips

1. Force your player to dribble toward the sidelines

Don't let him go where he wants to go. You control where he goes.

2. See ball...See man

Know where your player and the basketball are at all times. This is not always easy, especially for elementary basketball players. 

One of my favorite youth basketball rules helps beginners out with this. Each quarter, players from both teams line up at half court facing each other, and they stand directly across from the player they will be guarding. Each opposing pair is given a matching wristband. Once the game starts, players have a much easier time finding who they're supposed to be guarding by locating the person on the floor with the same color wristband they are wearing.

3. If you lose your player, head to the basket

There will be times you will lose sight of your player. When that happens, head toward the basket and start looking for her there.

You're not any help to your team standing out on the perimeter while your man is roaming free.

At least by hustling toward the basket, you'll be in a position to help out a teammate or grab a rebound.

4. Never stand still

Every time the ball or your player moves, you need to adjust.

Basketball defense tips
5. Never let a player drive down the middle

Kobe Bryant

A dribbler who drives down the middle of the lane is in the "driver's seat," so to speak. She's in control of the situation, and if she's a smart player, the defense is in huge trouble! 

She can either take the shot or pass off to the open player if another defender steps up to guard her. This is a huge "no-no" at any level.

6. Talk!

There should never be any surprises on defense because you should be telling teammates what's happening.

Let them know if a shot is going up, if you need help, if there's a screen, or whatever.

7. Move your feet

basketball defense

Don't stand flat-footed and lunge for the ball with your hands. You'll get beat every time and will most likely be called for a reaching foul.

By staying on the balls of your feet and being ready to move, you're in a better position to move quickly and cut off the drive.

More basketball defense tips...

8. Collapse when the ball gets in the free throw lane

Anytime the ball gets into the free throw lane, everyone should collapse like an umbrella. 

When the ball gets inside, the offense has a good chance of scoring, so everyone needs to clog up the middle and help out.

Once the ball is passed back outside, everyone resumes a normal position.

9. Contest every shot

Put a hand up in front of the shooter's face and yell, "Shot!" as the ball is released. This will let your teammates know to crash the boards.

No one should ever get a wide-open shot. Every shooter should have to look through their defender's hand.


youth basketball training - SKLZ D-Man

Basketball defense tips
10. If your player doesn't have the ball, he can't score

By working hard to make sure your opponent isn't open to get the ball, you take him out of the offense. He's not a threat to do anything if he can't get the ball.

11. EVERY player on the team has to play defense

It only takes one lazy player to kill a a good defense.

If 4 players are working hard, but one defender leaves a man open for an easy shot, drive, or pass, everyone's hard work is wasted.

12. NO ONE likes to be pressured constantly

The best way to control your opponent is to put constant pressure on her. She'll find this incredibly frustrating and it will negatively impact her game.

13. Good defensive pressure causes offensive mistakes

Tough pressure on the ball will cause the ball handler to panic, get in a hurry, and lose control of the ball.

Tough pressure forces players to make hasty and often bad decisions.

14. Always try to steal the ball or force a turnover

Whoever has the ball is in control of the game.

You need to get the ball.

Basketball defense tips
15. Block out your opponent after every shot

You don't want to give the offense more than one shot each trip down the floor.

Make sure you get the rebound; not the player you're guarding.

16. Defense comes down to attitude

It's impossible to be lazy and play great basketball defense. Defense is all about attitude and determination and heart.

If you don't want the ball really bad, you won't be a good defensive player.

basket ball training

17. Know your opponent

Recognize your opponent's strengths, weaknesses, and habits.

By knowing what your opponent is good or bad at, you can adjust the way you play defense to take advantage of him.

Basketball defense tips
18. Don't accept getting beat

If your man gets by you, make whatever adjustments you need to make and determine that it won't happen again.

19. Playing defense is hard work

Basketball defense is definitely not for wimps!

It's the most physically demanding part of the game, and you have to be in great shape.

20. You have to concentrate

You can't be distracted or have any mental lapses. Offenses will take advantage of any mistake you make because you aren't paying attention.

Great Defense is Fun to Watch!

Find more basketball defense tips and defensive drills!


Home > Basketball Defense > 20 Defensive Coaching Tips