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Youth Basketball & Individual Defense

Most people become interested in basketball because they want to dribble and shoot, and indeed, these are fundamental elements of the game. However, you need to have the ball and the way you get it is through playing defense.

Author: Trevor Sumner
Date: Nov 16, 2009 - 2:08:30 AM

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Most people become interested in basketball because they want to dribble and shoot, and indeed, these are fundamental elements of the game. However, you need to have the ball and the way you get it is through playing defense. You need to stop the other team from scoring more often than they stop you to win the game, so though it may not seem like it's as much fun, defense is equally as important as offense.

Youth basketball coaches need to sell their players on this fact and get everyone on the same page. One of the best selling points is this: stifling defense leads to easy offense. Most of the highlight reel, launch-from-the-foul-line dunks that you see are the result of steals. The more pressure you put on the opponent's offense, the more you will wear them down over the course of the game, and that too leads to easier offensive opportunities. The bottom line is that winning teams play good defense, and youth players need to understand that they need to be willing to invest the time and effort into continually improving their individual basketball defensive skills. Defense is all about heart and work ethic.

Whether you are playing man-to-man or zone defense, there are a few basic rules of thumb that you need to keep in mind at all times. Here are some specific basketball defensive tips to remember, but above all, everyone on the squad needs to maintain a high level of energy, desire, discipline, and focus while working together as a team.

Below are some tips for proper basketball shooting techniques as well as some fun drills for your youth basketball team's practice. You can also find more free basketball skills & drills videos and tutorials online at websites like

Youth Basketball Individual Defensive Tips

  • Know where the ball is at all times
  • Anticipate the next logical pass
  • When defending a ball handler keep your knees bent and slide--don't cross your legs
  • Watch the chest of the ball handlers, not their eyes
  • In transition, your first priority is to stop the ball
  • Help out your teammates and rotate when they are out of position
  • Communicate with your teammates--call out picks and switches

Youth Basketball Defensive Drills
  • Shuffle Drill
    Have the players line up across the half court line and get into the proper defensive crouch. Knees should be bent, and the defender's head should always be lower than the head of the dribbler with his or her weight back so that they maintain a flexible sense of balance. The coach dribbles to one side and the team reacts, following the ball using the proper defensive technique, and then he goes to the other side, and then back, forward, mixing up the patterns. The defenders should maintain intensity and never cross their legs or turn their backs to the ball.

  • Full Court One-On-One
    Players form two lines, one for defense and the other for dribblers. You start in one corner of the court and the dribbler tries to make his or her way down the court as the defender tries to stay in front of the offensive player using the proper defensive stance. Any time the dribbler passes the defender he or she waits for the defender to get back into position and they continue until they reach the end line at the other side of the court where they switch roles and come back the other way.

View all articles by Trevor Sumner

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