Getting steals in basketball is one of the easiest ways to add value to your team and make your a more impact-full player overall.
To get more steals in basketball you need to be able to time the ball handler, be aggressive, and put yourself in proper position to get that steal.
In this article I will be going over simple tips you can implement to increase your steals in basketball.
Timing is crucial when it comes to getting steals in basketball.
One of the main reasons for this is ,being able to time a steal well, will not only give you a higher probability of executing that steal, but it will also decrease the likelihood of a ref calling a foul.
To understand timing when it comes to steals, a good rule of thumb to live by is if the ball is in arms reach, without any resistance.
For example if your guarding a player far from the basket, and the ball is on the other side of there body, then that would not be a good time to go for a steal. Conversely if the ball is exposed and is in a position where you can poke it away then that is a good opportunity to go for a steal.
Below is a great example of timing a steal. Notice how these players pick and choose there moments, and only go for the steals when the moment arises.
Most of the steals are what most hoopers, would call "cookies". And is an excellent opportunity to get steals in basketball.
2. Anticipating Your Opponent
Anticipating your opponent is an easy way to increase your steals and make it much easier in general.
Below are a few ways you can anticipate your opponent.
Eyes- A subtle clew a lot of players give off when dribbling is looking at the spot where they are trying to go. By understanding this you can get a better idea of where they are gonna go.
By knowing where they are going to go you can put yourself in the best position to get that steal.
Court Positioning- What I mean by court positioning is understanding where your opponent is going to want to go.
For example if you have a player guarded in the corner and the baseline has no help side, by seeing this you can understand where your opponents going to go, and again you can put yourself in the correct spot to get that steal.
Knowing basketball moves- There are certain moves in basketball that are better for steals than others.
What I mean by this is, by seeing these certain moves you can anticipate your opponent and go for these steals easier.
One example of these moves is the spin move especially in the post. This is a great chance for a steal, because your opponent is likely going to have his back facing toward you and will not be able to see you coming.
Another reason this is a great chance for a steal is because most likely this is going to be a bigger player, and if your a smaller player, this will make it easier to get under him and get that steal.
Another great way to go for steals, and anticipate your opponent is on ball screens. The two main reasons for this is because you have a good idea of where your opponent is going to go. And ball screens allow the on ball player to be a little more aggressive, as they are going to have help on the back side.
Now while you do have to have good timing for getting steals on ball screens this can be a good opportunity for a steal attempt.
3. Active Hands
If you notice, a lot of the best defenders in the NBA do an excellent job of having active hands, and this can easily translate into more steals as well.
One way of having active hands, is using one of your hands on defense, to mirror the ball.
What I mean by this is having one of your off hands matching the dribbling of your opponent.
This is a tip that can help keep you ready, and in good position to quickly react, to a steal opportunity that might come up.
You have to realize that as a player you might only have a few steal opportunities in a game, so being ready is vital to make sure you maximize the amount of steals you can get in a game.
To be quite frank in order to get steals you need to have that fire in you. Or the attitude that your going to take the ball from the opponent.
Almost all of the best defenders have this kid of attitude. Its competing, its enforcing your will onto your opponent. All the other tips and tricks go out the window if you do not have the correct mindset going into each defensive possession.
Pro Tip: Like anything this also comes down to balance. There are going to be times where you are going to need to be aggressive, and times where your going to need to slow down and be more cerebral and calm.
5. Good Positioning
When talking about positioning for steals, this comes down to being in front of your opponent, and on balanced.
Positioning is important for steals, because this gives you a greater chance of not being called for a foul.
Positioning for steals also means being in a better spot than your defender. For example, if your opponent is backing up or is in a passive position, that is a great opportunity to go for a steal.
A good rule of thumb to know and realize, is when being in a good position for a steal make sure you are in a spot where you can be more aggressive than your opponent on offense.
Below is a great video explaining the importance and timing and positioning when going for steals in basketball.
Like anything, your opponent is not going to just give you the basketball. that is why in order to get steals, you have to be unpredictable and throw your defender out.
Think about it like this, when your on offense as a player, if you want to score or drive to the hoop, your going to need to throw your defender off, and make a quick move. The same strategy goes for a defender as well especially on steals.
An easy way of doing this is by going from stationary, and then explode toward the ball and get a steal. It almost works like a drive would on the offensive end.
This could also be on off ball defense as well. You could see another player dribbling and then quickly, and sneakily come behind him and get the steal. For an example of this think about Micheal Jordans steal on Karl Malone in his last game for the Bulls.
7. Playing The Passing Lanes
When playing this passing lanes it is important to note, you can get steals without being locked onto your opponent.
If you do not already know what playing the passing lane is, it is basically being in the lane, or path of where the ball needs to go to get to your opponent.
This is great to do on off ball defense, and can be a great way to get steals because it puts you in the best position to take the ball away since your in the path of where the ball will go.
This can also work in on ball situations, as you can easily read your defender, and deflect the ball before it even leaves there hands.
Below is a great video showing the importance of playing the passing lanes and how to do it better and more effectively.
` 8. Baiting
Baiting for steals is very important especially in my point above about passing lanes.
Most players you play against (if they are any good) are not going to make poor decisions most of the time. That is where baiting comes into play.
Baiting can be effective because it makes your opponent think they are open, or it makes them think there teammate is open. By thinking they are open they are more likely to throw that pass and your more likely to get that steal.
Just make sure when your baiting your opponent, to know yourself, and how quickly you can cover ground. This can be risky as if you miss then your opponent has a wide open lane to the basket.
This technique can also work on on ball defense as well, as you can force your opponent to go one way, and then quickly put yourself in a position to get that steal.
9. Good Technique
Like anything technique is important, and especially imprtant when going for steals.
What I mean by good technique is having your arms in the right place to get the steal
For example notice in the video above, how the player always uses his outside hand to deflect the pass, and keeps his butt to the baseline.
This allows him to see the whole court, while also putting himself in the best position, to quickly react and get his arms out for a steal.
10. Know Your Opponent
When I say knowing your opponent, I mean trying to understand his tendencies and go to moves he likes to go to.
You can get better at this by watching film of the player, or making adjustments in the game.
A reason this can help with steals is because by being able to predict your opponent, you can get to the spot or angle easier and quicker, that might be required to get that steal.
11. Playing Smarter
You have to understand that even some of the best players at getting steals might only average 1-2 steals per game.
So what I mean by playing smart, is knowing the risk reward of certain plays.
This is because a lot of steal attempts can put you and your team in tough positions on the court.
I am not saying you should not go for steals, but just know there are times you should play more straight up, and avoid risky situations and foul calls.
12. Knowing Your Teams Strategy
A reason this can be vital for getting steals is because by knowing your teams strategy on defense, you can know and predict where your opponent might want to go with the ball.
For example on a 2-3 zone for example the open spot most of the time, is going to be in the middle of the floor by the free throw line.
So by understanding this you can then get into that passing lane and time that steal.
13. Staying Low
This is a little tip I have seen work very well for many players. By getting low though I do not always mean with your hips but with your head too.
You see this can make getting steals much easier as by being low you can get more on level with the ball, which will make it easier to steal and react to the ball, since you are in much better position to do so.
Notice in the video below great defenders use this tip to there advantage. Which hopefully will lead to more steals for you.
With some of these tips in mind hopefully this can lead to more steals for you in games.
Let me know any tips or tricks, you use to get more steals in basketball?
Thank you reading, and as always keep hooping my friends.