Pass, Cut, & Fill: Defensive Fundamentals

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Passing Actions

The pass, cut & fill layer provides coaches the opportunity to teach players how to defend offenses when a pass is made.  Following the rules of the Read & React creates significant off ball movement anytime the ball moves. This simultaneous movement of the ball and off ball players provides a teaching environment for any defensive strategy.  It provides a laboratory to create situations to test defensive skills and concepts. With the incorporation of the other foundational layers, coaches can teach and evaluate almost any perimeter defensive concept that does not involve a screening action.

1 pass away
What does this position look like for your defense philosophy? How do you teach it? On the line?  Off the line? How far? Up the line? Hug the player?  Always see ball or always see man?  Of course you always want to see both, but sometimes you have to choose.  Open stance?  Closed stance?

2 pass away
What does this position look like for your defense philosophy? How do you teach it? 1 foot in the lane?  2 feet in the lane?  Mid-line?  Does it depend on where the ball is?  Does it depend on the type of player you’re guarding?  Does it depend on how you defend the post player?  Does it depend on your defensive rotations?

They are one of the most important defensive concepts and skills for teams and players to master. The ability to closeout to a player in proper position is critical for defensive success. The Attack Dribble layer is a great opportunity to drill on ball closeouts.  Off ball closeouts are just important.  It is critical to always be in control of the body and be able react quickly offensive movement.  A closeout that is not aggressive enough to a position 1 pass away could lead to an open driving lane.  A closeout that is too aggressive to a position 1 pass away could lead to an easy back door cut.

Transitioning from one defensive position to another
This is related to closeouts in a way, but it’s also more than that. How do you want your players to get from on ball to 1 pass away?  What about from 1 pass away to on ball?  What about from on ball to 2 passes away or from 1 pass away to 2 passes away? Where do they go?  How do they get there?

Dealing with cutters
How do you want your players to deal with cutters? How do you defend the backdoor cut?  Do you allow face cuts?

Defensive Rotations
Defenses are inevitably going to break down. Whether on ball or off ball, somebody is going to make a mistake somewhere along the way. Defining who helps, when they help, and how they help each other completes the defensive picture for the most basic offensive actions. If your team can’t defend basic actions, they are going to have a more difficult time guarding more complicated ones.  

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