Part VI: Defense

This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

Defense is just as important if not more important than offense. It really does win championships. As much passion as I might have about letting players play the game in this style on the offensive end, I am more passionate about the importance of playing good defense. I believe this style of offense gives coaches the opportunity to build a tough defense. The key word here is OPPORTUNITY. Just like the offense creates scoring opportunities for players, it also creates defensive teaching opportunities for coaches. It is up to us to take advantage.

I will not get off on a tangent debating the pros and cons of different defensive systems. That’s for another place and time. All I’m saying is that whatever defensive system or style you choose, teaching offense this way makes teaching defense make sense.  Teaching players how to play offense layer by layer and then teaching them how to defend layer by layer just fits. Now it’s up to us to hold them accountable and up to them to make it happen.

Good defense isn’t going to just happen; coaches have to make players make it happen. We have to demand it, then teach it, and then demand it some more. The best part about this system is the opportunity to collapse time frames and teach defense using the same drills that are being used to teach the offense. We don’t have to make anything up. We just have to take advantage of the OPPORTUNITY that we’re given.

In teaching the offense, defensive players (dummy and live) can and should be added to drills as the coaches deem necessary.  Initially, drills should be done without defense so that players can focus on the skills that make up the layer.  Defense should be added in order to make the offensive drills more game like once players become more comfortable with the offensive skills and concepts being taught.

If we stop there, we are trying to win games instead of championships. We are trying to make players look good for a highlight reel instead of building complete players.  Would you rather have Carmelo Anthony or Scottie Pippen?  Allen Iverson or Rajan Rondo? Amare Stoudomire or Tim Duncan? All of them are great players. Some of them have highlight reels, and some have rings. Jordan and Lebron are special, one of a kind players. To say they haven’t worked hard would be pretty short sited. However, they were blessed something a little more than most. The rest have natural gifts that need development. We must develop the whole player, not just the offensive player. This style of play makes it possible.

Keep in mind, while we are emphasizing defense, players are continuing to build offensive habits and improve on their offensive skills at the same time with each repetition. The opportunity to teach defense is ours.  We must take advantage.

Teaching Defense

The foundational layers provide a framework for teaching basic player-to-player defensive concepts.

  1. Defending the player with the ball
  2. Defending receivers depending on ball and player position and movement
  3. Defending dribble penetration
  4. Defending cuts
  5. Defending the post
  6. Rebounding

Rebounding, which may be the most important concept on the list, can be emphasized in every single drill.  Teams are going to miss over half their shots.  The question is how many chances do they get at a second attempt.

Keeping people out of the lane increases the opportunity that teams will miss shots.  Defending the ball and dribble penetration is critical to good defense.  Attack Dribble is a great way to teach the first three defensive components in the above list, which are all centered around keeping people out of the lane.

Dribble-At and Pass & Cut allow coaches to teach players how to defend cuts and post players as well as parts of the other concepts. Other layers will provide different ways to teach the same defensive concepts.

The “advanced” layers provide the opportunity to teach more advanced defensive concepts. I consider screens an advanced concept in the offense and should be treated as advanced defensive concepts as well.  Players must have a good understanding of on-ball and off-ball defensive concepts related to the foundational layers before they will be able to grasp defending screens. If players can defend the most basic layers, then they will have a much easier time defending more advanced concepts.  Many times, the difficulty that defenses have defending screens is likely a result of poor positioning or communication that was never established in the beginning. If players are talking on defense, and they are in the right position most of the time, defending screens becomes a lot easier.

As each layer is broken down, the opportunity to teach defense will be discussed. Specific techniques or philosophies will be avoided.  I’m not going to get into that discussion right now. I just urge coaches to teach defense and demand it, even if it means your offense might not be as good. I believe that if you take time to teach defense, your offense will benefit more than if you only teach offense.

I know you’re not here to read about defense. So now we’ll head back to offense.

I’ll discuss why it’s important to teach dribbling actions first. Some of you have been asking for this one.

Series Navigation<< Part V: The BreakdownPart VII: 6 Reasons Why Dribbling Actions Are Taught First >>

8 thoughts on “Part VI: Defense

  1. [...] on October 24, 2012 by Hoops College Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI...
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