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Basketball: Individual Defense

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Player trying to block a shot
Source: US Army
Everybody loves to shoot the ball in basketball, but to win games you must learn how to play good defense. Individual players can work on sound fundamental defensive skills in order to become better team players.


The first thing to work on is your defensive stance. You must be ready to move in any direction quickly. Stand with your feet apart and your knees bent. Keep your weight balanced on the front part of your feet. You don't want to get caught with your weight on your heels or you will get beat. Keep your hands spread wide around shoulder height.

Where to Focus

You can focus on the offensive player's waist as this is the toughest area of the body to fake. Where their waist goes, they will go. At the same time you need to learn to watch the ball at the same time. You will want to be ready to still a pass or block a shot.


Play defense with enthusiasm and energy. Stay on the player and don't give them anything. Defense takes effort, heart, and guts to be good and play hard the whole game. Don't give your opponent a break.


To make steals, block shots, and take charges you will need to learn to anticipate what the offensive player is going to do. You can learn this throughout the game. Some players like to go right all the time or do a certain move over and over again. They may get you the first time, but don't let them do it again.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Learn your opponent's strengths and weaknesses and force them to go with their weaknesses. An example of this is a player who strongly favors their right hand. Force them to their left. Make them beat you with their weak hand.

On the Perimeter

If you play guard you are going to want to work on your perimeter defense. This requires quickness and staying low. When your player has the ball always stay between them and the basket. If they are a strong shooter stay close. If they like to drive to the basket, play a bit off of them. When they don't have the ball, stay between them and the ball and deny. Don't let them get to spots on the floor where they like to shoot. You will want to work on drills that improve your lateral movement and quickness.

On the Inside

If you play down low, you will want to learn how to work on position. Don't let your opponent gain position. This takes strength and practice. Once they gain position it will be tough to stop the inside pass and defend. Keep your opponent as far from the basket as possible while staying between them and the basket. You need to be ready to block them out as soon as a shot goes up. For this type of defense you will want to work on your overall strength.

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