Off Ball Defense

Ballside Denials | Helpside Support | Post Defense

On defense, like with offense, the majority of the time is spent guarding players without the ball or “Off Ball.” Yet, most coaches and players spend little time or effort in learning and refining their off ball defensive skills. Off Ball defensive efforts should be focused on obtaining the basketball, not just protecting the basket.

Players need to understand that defense starts prior to their opponent receiving the ball not after. Off Ball fundamentals are the building blocks of a strong team defense. Off Ball defensive fundamentals require that players become highly skilled and proficient in first pass denials, disrupting cutters, providing strong backside support, and executing quick close outs.

| Pass Denial | Playing Up | Dancing | Staying Home | Pass Deflections |
| In Review | Drills for Skills |


5 Stars

Strong First Pass Denials

Pass Denial

Off ball defensive efforts should be focused on obtaining the basketball, not just protecting the basket. Therefore, to achieve this, Off Ball defenders must constantly attack the passing lanes. They must be alert and anticipate all passes. They must watch the passer's eyes since almost all passers will telegraph their passes. In attacking the passing lanes, defenders should deflect most passes rather than trying to catch them.

What to Discover or Recall:

Off Ball defenders must constantly attack the passing lanes.

Attacking the passing lanes disrupts offensive spacing and timing. It, also, forces the offensive players away from the basket increasing their shot and drive distance.

In assuming a pass denial position, the defender must play “UP” the passing lane between their opponent and the ball.

View/Close Buttons

Print  Printable Version

Attacking the Passing Lanes

For first pass denials to be successful, defenders do not have to deflect or get a hand on every pass. By constantly attacking the passing lanes, it will disrupt offensive spacing and timing by forcing the offensive players further away from the basket in order to receive the ball. This increases, not only the opponent's shot distance, but also the drive distance to the basket adding an extra dribble, and increases the pass distance into the low post creating a greater opportunity for interceptions.

First Pass Denial

Deny the passing lane by playing "UP" between opponent and the ball. Stay low maintaining a bent knee, "Ear on Chest" position. Use split vision. See the opponent and the ball.

Extend an arm straight out into passing lane with the palm to the passer. The off arm is held in a high, in a bent elbow position maintaining slight contact with opponent.

Place the back foot 12" behind opponent's inside foot. Play off and build cushion against quicker opponents.

First Pass Denial

Stop Sign

Pass Denial ' "Stop Sign"

Just by extending an arm straight out in the passing lane with the palm facing the passer ('Stop Sign'), in almost all cases, upon seeing a hand in the passer will immediately look for another receiver.

CAUTION: See the Ball on Defense

It is imperative to have vision on the ball at all times. Maintain vision on the ballhandler since most passers telegraph their passes. This is especially true in defensive transition. Defenders should NEVER run back on defense with their backs to the ball.

 


5 Stars

Playing Up (the Passing Lane)

Attacking and denying first pass passing lanes primarily requires a lot of effort and determination on the part of the defender. However, to be productive and successful, all of this energy and resolve needs to be combined with a working knowledge of the basic pass denial techniques.

What to Discover or Recall:

Strong first pass denials require that the defender play up the passing lane.

To accomplish this, the defender must maintain a position, up the passing lane, between the ball handler their opponent.

All passes to the opponent should go through the defender.

View/Close Buttons

Playing Up the Lane

Strong first pass denials require that the defender play up the passing lane. Any pass to the opponent should go through the defender. To accomplish this, the defender must assume a position, up the passing lane, between the ball handler and the person they are guarding at all times.

Ball - You - Opponent

Defenders should play up between their opponent and the ball at all times.

Incorrect

Ball - Opponent - You

From a DOWN position, there is a tendency to react and lunge at passes. This usually results in a near miss and/or getting beat on baseline dribble penetration.

Playing Up the Lane

Up the Lane

The longer the passing lane, the further off (up the lane) the defender should play. The shorter the passing lane, the closer to the opponent the defender should play.

Back Court Rule

Backcourt Rule

In defending against full court passes, all defenders should play above the free throw line extended until the ball crosses the mid court line. Take full advantage of the fact that most players are poorly skilled in making long passes.

See the Ball

It is imperative to have vision on the ball at all times. This is especially true when in defensive transition. Defenders should NEVER run back on defense with their backs to the ball.

Pass Distance Rule

Pass Distance

Do NOT allow any successful pass over 15 feet in distance.

In allowing uncontested passes over 15 feet, it compromises the defense and opens up the entire court to the offense. It also forces all defenders to make major defensive adjustments and in the process makes them vulnerable to offensive attack.

 

 


5 Stars

"Dancing" with the Opponent

Preventing the opponent from receiving the ball, requires hard work and determination, however, strong pass denial only lasts three seconds. After three seconds the passer will have to find another receiver or risk a closely guarded five second count violation. Remember, the best way to defend an outstanding offensive player or "Super Star" is to deny them the ball.

What to Discover or Recall:

Against back cuts, if at all possible the defender should try to maintain a shoulder to should pass denial position forcing the cutter toward the baseline pushpoint.

If the defender gets past the defender, the defender should just switch "Stop Signs" by extending the opposite arm and hand into the passing lane while making a quick head snap.

 

View/Close Buttons

Maintaining a Strong Pass Denial

Pass Denial Dancing

When being over played, most offensive players will use head and shoulder fakes in an effort to get open. However, in most cases head and shoulder faking fakes out their own passer more times than it does the defender.

Defending Back Cuts

Against back cuts, if at all possible the defender should try to maintain a shoulder to should position, forcing the cutter toward the baseline pushpoint.

Quick Head Snap

Switching "Stop" Signs

If the defender gets past the defender, the defender should just switch "Stop Signs" by extending the opposite arm and hand into the passing lane while making a quick head snap.

CAUTION: Do not open up against back cuts. While opening up may be successful against a receiver's initial cut, it is very difficult to guard a moving opponent with your back toward them.

Dancing

"Dancing"

If a player uses a series of head and shoulder fakes in an attempt to get open, the defender should just "Dance" with the receiver by switching stop signs.

View/Print Drills for Skills: Maintaining Strong Pass Denials

 

 


5 Stars

Ballside Dribble Penetrations

Stay Home on Ball Side. Do NOT leave shooters to help!

On dribble penetration, help comes from the Helpside not the ballside. Defenders on the ballside may bluff and fake at the dribbler, but their primary responsibility is to deny any kick out pass to spot up shooters.

What to Discover or Recall:

Do NOT leave shooters to help on dribble penetration.

Helpside defenders are responsible for rotating over to stop the ballhandler's penetration.

View/Close Buttons

Defending the Drive & Kick

Staying Home

When a ballhandler penetrates to the basket on dribble, ball side defenders maintain strong pass denial positions and do NOT help.

Helpside defenders are responsible for rotating over to stop the ball handler's penetration. Low Helpside I defender steps out taking a charge whenever possible. Mid or high helpside defender drops to baseline.

Risks of Providing Help on Ball Side Dribble Penetration

Open Spot Up

Open Spot Up

The problem of helping out on ball side is that smart point guards will penetrate to draw ball side defenders to them, creating wide open shots for shooters spotting up.

Open Spot Up

Lay-Up Shot

Lay-Up

If ball side defenders sag off to help out against dribble penetration, wing has the option of cutting to basket for an easy lay up.

Lay-Up Shot

Kick Out Pass

Kick Out Pass

When ball side defenders sag off to help against dribble penetration, it opens up the drive and kick option.

Kick Out Pass

 

Coaching Tip: When point dribble penetration becomes a problem deploy a half court trap in order to take the ball out of the ballhandler's hands.

Learn More Defending Dribble Penetration

 

 


5 Stars

Deflections/Loose Balls/Saves

"Really Big Plays" (RBP's)

Pass deflections, loose ball recoveries and saving the ball from going out of bounds are Really Big Plays. Really Big Plays are extra effort actions that ignite and inspire teammates, and, as a result, change the momentum and outcome of the game. They are the result of just plain determination and hustle. The nice thing about RBP's is that they do not require any special abilities or talent on the part of the players. Anyone can make them.

What to Discover or Recall:

On pass deflections, cut off the defender and then go for the ball.

Coaches love players that go to the floor for loose balls.

When saving a ball from going out of bounds save to a teammate, throw off opponent or call timeout.

View/Close Buttons

 Printable Version

| Deflections | Loose Balls | Out of Bounds Saves |

Pass Deflections

“Bat and Go Get (the ball).”

In attacking the passing lane, rather than stepping forward with the back foot into the passing lane to intercept the pass, deflect the ball with the lead hand (Stop Sign). Stepping into the passing lane with the back foot takes time and, most of the time, results in a near miss creating an open driving lane to the basket.

Pass Deflection

To obtain possession when a pass is deflected, the defender must first cut off the receiver by stepping in front and then going for the ball. Cutting off the receiver will insure ball possession.

Pass Deflection Error

When the defender goes directly for the ball without first cutting off the receiver, then ball possession will be up for grabs.

 


5 Stars

looseball.jpg

Loose Ball Recoveries

Coaches love to see players go to the floor for loose balls. However, like taking an offensive charge, players must be taught how properly dive for loose balls without sacrificing their bodies or risk of injury.

In diving for loose balls, players should first lower their center of gravity close to the floor by having their knees bent (defensive stance). Then push forward extending arms and legs straight out parallel to the floor and landing on their hip flexors.

Diving for the ball should be graceful and the body should land softly like a gymnast. Loose ball dives are tricky. For this reason players should have a working knowledge of the correct techniques and plenty of practice repetitions before diving for a loose ball during a game. Whenever possible, seek the assistance of a volleyball coach when teaching players to dive for loose balls. Once players learn how to properly dive for loose balls, the more apt they are to go after loose balls during a game without hesitation.

CAUTION: Players should never fall on the knees. Falling on a knee is a good way to end up with a torn ACL or a worse injury. Wearing knee pads may be a good idea.

 


5 Stars

Out of Bounds Saves

Out of Bounds Save

1. Save to a Teammate

Out of Bounds Save

Saving the ball from going out of bounds is a Really Big Play (RBP). Although it may require a super individual effort on the part of the player, to insure success, it requires a total team effort. In saving the ball, all teammates must be alert and break to the ball to receive the save pass. This provides for multiple save options. In this situation, the worst thing that can happen is for a teammate to stand and watch.

Out of Bounds Save

CAUTION: At the defensive end of the court, never save the ball by throwing it directly under the defensive basket. In this case, an interception will result in an easy shot and score for the opponents.

Out of Bounds Save

Save by throwing the ball out to mid court or to a sideline. If the opponent should intercept the save, the defense will have time to recover and prevent an easy basket.

2. Throw Ball Off An Opponent

In cases where the ball cannot be saved directly to a teammate, throw the ball off an opponent's leg out of bounds. Throwing the ball off an opponent is an intelligent play. However, since the opponent is very vulnerable, it should never be done with the force that could harm or injure the opponent.

3. Call Time Out

Calling a time out while in the air should be a last resort. Since saving the ball from going out of bounds is not covered by most programs, players having watched on TV games, tend to call time out as the first option rather than the last. However, time outs are precious and surely needed especially at the end of a close game. In addition, when the ball is saved directly to a teammate, it usually catches the opponents off guard resulting in an easy basket or fast break.

 

 


5 Stars

In Review

Off Ball defensive efforts should be focused on obtaining the basketball, not just protecting the basket. Players need to understand that defense starts prior to their opponent receiving the ball not after. Off Ball defenders must constantly attack the passing lanes. In constantly anticipating and attacking the passing lanes, it will disrupt offensive spacing and timing. In defending cutters, players must not only possess a working knowledge how to defend the basic cuts, but also need to develop an attitude and aptitude of anticipating and preventing them.

  1. Preventing the opponent from receiving the ball, requires hard work and determination.

  2. Attacking the passing lanes disrupts offensive spacing and timing. It also forces the offensive players away from the basket increasing their shot and drive distance.

  3. The defender must maintain a low bent knee, “Ear on Chest” position with an arm extended out in the passing lane with the palm (Stop Sign) facing passer.

  4. In assuming a pass denial position, the defender must play “UP” the passing lane between their opponent and the ball.

  5. Defenders must have vision of the ball and their opponent at all times.

  6. Players should never run back on defense with their backs to ball.

  7. Ballside defenders never leave shooters to help against dribble penetration.

  8. To insure possession when a pass is deflected, the defender must first cut off the receiver and then go for the ball.

  9. On "Give & Go" basket cuts beat the cutter through on ball side.

  10. The best way to defend an outstanding offensive player is to deny them the ball.

 


5 Stars

Drills for Skills

Like their offensive counterparts, individual defensive skills must be broken down, practiced and refined on all levels of the game. Select desired breakdown drill below to View and/or Print:

First Pass Denials "Dancing" (2-on-2)

Defending "Give & Go" & Ball Cuts (3-on-3)

One-on-One with Trail

Related Links:

Defensive Breakdown Drills

 

Learn More  Off Ball Defense/Helpside

 

 

Back