Post Defense: Fundamentals

This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Post Play

Playing post defense is very similar to playing post offense.  At it’s most basic level, it’s a fight for position.  The player with the best position usually wins.  Defining “best position” is a little more tricky.  The best position for a player like Brittney Griner is going to be different than the best position for a 5’8″ post player.  The best position may also be different based on team’s defensive strategy.  The best position may also vary based on the type of post players an opponent has.

Coaches must determine and define the best position for their players. Whatever that best position is, there are some fundamentals that players must be able to execute to be successful.

First Post Down
The earlier a post player begins to work for position, the higher likelihood that the player will be able to get the best position.  Defensive post play begins in transition.  The defensive post player must work to beat their offensive teammate down the court.  It’s not enough to arrive at the same time.  This inevitably gives the offensive player an advantage.

First Post to the Spot
Assuming the defensive player wins the race down the court, they must beat the offensive post to where they want to go. This could be to a post position.  This could be to a screen.  A defensive player who can get to the spot first can disrupt the timing of the offense.  They may not be able to keep the player from getting to where they want to go, but they can throw off the timing which helps their teammates immensely.

Team Defense
Good post defense requires a team effort.  There’s no way one person can guard a good post player alone.  The two clips below show that you can’t keep a post player from catching the ball alone.  A good post player will take advantage of the defensive position of their opponent.  There must be good ball pressure to make it hard to see open post players and to disrupt the timing of the play.

Clip 1

Clip 2

On the Catch
Inevitably the ball is going to get inside.  So then what.  It’s important for the defensive post to get between the offensive player and the basket on the catch. Then this player must remain low and ready to move.  Many post players stand up to try to be tall in the post instead of staying low and being ready to move.  Post players must not go for ball fakes.  This gives the offensive player an easy opportunity to make a basket and get fouled.

On the Shot
If the offensive post takes a shot, the defensive post is once again in a battle for position.  The defensive post must work to get good rebounding position so that they can get the rebond in case the shot attempt is missed.

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