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Six Keys to Winning
with SOS Pressure Defense

To understand what makes SOS pressure defense so potentially successful as an offensive deterrent, it's important to focus early on the concepts and techniques that are the heart and core of the program. Anticipating the route to be traveled before the trip begins is obviously essential to the planning and pacing of any successful journey.

Stated in basketball terms, if your defensive strategies are already working well, you can zero in on those concepts that might reinforce and enhance your already successful program. If, on the other hand, a real change is needed to boost a program that is not getting the job done, the entire "R" "R" (revision and rejuvenation) itinerary is clearly mapped out for you to follow. Wherever you are coming from, the program overview that follows will capsulize what SOS pressure is all about and help you pinpoint any or all areas of the program that are relevant to your own unique coaching situation.

Stated simply and concisely, the key elements in teaching SOS pressure defense are as follows:


Fundamental Defensive Skills are Introduced in Logical Simple-to-Complex Progression

Tough, tenacious pressure defense begins with very basic individual one-on-one body positioning and court movement, both on and off the ball. Teaching progresses from the one-on-one stage to two-on-two, and on through five-on-five total team pressure. Fundamentals are precisely and thoroughly taught so that, once mastered, actions become spontaneous and automatic. Reinforcement review continues on a daily basis throughout the season to keep both skills and motivation consistently high. Initial teaching drills are developmental and detailed by design while reinforcement drills are short, snappy reviews of previously learned defensive basics.


Key S-O-S Words Identify and Trigger Defensive Actions

Specific key words are used consistently throughout the program as a teaching strategy to clearly identify and trigger all basic On and Off ball actions required of the defender in terms of body stance, positioning, and movement. Each key word begins with one of the S-O-S letters to clarify and simplify communication between coach and player, and player and player. They key words are called out constantly throughout practice and live game situations, providing a common court language to solidify team effort and to keep action crisp and sharp. The S-O-S On-Ball key words are SET, ON, SMOTHER; the S-O-S Off-Ball key words are SNUGGLE, OFF, AND STRIKE. SOS then, not only means HELP in teaching pressure defense, but the letters, S-O-S also have real "action through association" significance in all program basics.


Defenders Pressure Opponents to Specific Checkpoint Areas on the Court

"Operation Checkpoint" is a most significant aspect of SOS defensive strategy. Players are taught to identify specific areas, or checkpoints, on the playing floor to which they can aggressively direct their opponent away from a high percentage shot area. It is no accident that these checkpoints are all in "no-man's-land" 18 feet or more away from the hoop. Obviously, if well executed, this adversely affects the opponent's overall shooting percentage. Commitment to the checkpoint concept is a essential element of On-Ball SOS one-on-one pressure defense.


Two-on-Two Switching is Encouraged AS an Option in Stifling the Screen

SOS pressure gives credibility to the idea that switching is a viable effective defensive strategy to use against successful screening teams. Switching on both On-Ball and Off-Ball screens can eliminate many of the "Gray areas" of guarding an opponent that so often generate defender hesitation, confusion and indecision. Automatic and aggressive switching can frustrate screening teams to near frenzy and, if sustained, can force an opponent totally out of their set motion originally intended on their game plan. It's a pressure maneuver that should definitely be part of any modern day, all-inclusive system of defense.


Stopping the Break Begins in the Backcourt

"Getting back on defense" has been the traditional rallying cry for slowing down and deflating the transition game. However, pressure on the ball must begin in the backcourt the instant the rebound is caught to prevent the initial, quick outlet pass down court. Each player applies pressure by following specific and clear cut defensive assignments, such as denying the down court passing lanes, putting pressure on the dribbler, or pushing the ballhandler to "no-man's-land" specific checkpoint where the odds against scoring are much higher. All players are always involved, with clear cut roles to be played when baseline-to-baseline pressure is applied.


Each Defender Has a Clear-Cut Specific Pressure Role to Play

Well executed SOS pressure "D" leaves very little to chance. The role of each defender is clear cut and specific, each team member working in support of the together for maximum power in shutting down offensive options to score. The SOS trained defenders are well aware and confident of their potential to dictate offensive action rather than to react to it. The ultimate goal of SOS teaching is to train all five defenders to successfully execute assigned roles like clockwork, each cog in the wheel meshing with the others to make the system work. Well prepared and charged up defenders can be annoyingly consistent and predictably effective against their opponents, creating turnovers, forcing them beyond high percentage range, cutting off passing lanes, crashing the boards, sticking like glue. Tough, tenacious defense is a great on court equalizer, offering hope to teams outclassed in offensive talent, giving an edge to teams of otherwise equal skill, and proving the winning edge to great scoring teams on the coldest of shooting nights.


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