Defense in basketball can be one of the hardest and most frustrating things in this game. We all want to be a player who can constantly lock up the opposing team's best player and virtually take them out of the game.
From what I have seen one of the biggest impediments to this goal is players' ability to quickly slide their feet and cut off their defenders.
In this article, I will be going over some basic techniques and exercises you can do to improve your defensive and lateral quickness in the game of basketball.
1. Improve Lateral Quickness
Lateral quickness is the foundation to any player guarding the ball. Lateral quickness allows you to slide in front of your defender and cut them off and contest them.
How To Improve Lateral Quickness?
To improve your lateral quickness you need to train your lower body and feet to move quickly in multi-directions.
Laterally defense is different than just regular quickness because it requires you to move your feet continuously in short distances.
One way to improve your lateral quickness is by doing exercises called plyometrics. and more specifically doing exercises that mimic lateral quickness.
An example of this would be the lateral bound. Which is a plyometric exercise that works on moving you back and forth in a lateral direction.
For a visual representation of the lateral bound check out the video below.
The second way I have found improves both my lateral quickness and defensive abilities as a whole (especially on the perimeter) is doing agility later drills.
These drills involve a player moving in different directions in a quick explosive manner.
This can be done with a ladder, dots, or points on the ground, or simply using your imagination.
For a great video, representation check out the video below.
A third way I have found helps my agility and lateral quickness is by doing jump rope but with a twist.
Instead of doing slow steady jump rope like many players and athletes are used to, try and make the jump rope as game-like as possible.
To do this make sure you make the exercise explosive and fast while taking long breaks in between.
This ensures you train both your nervous system and muscles in the effort that will be required in order to play good lateral defense.
2. Stay On Your Toes
To be the best athlete you can be you need to make sure your stance represents that. I see so many players when guarding the ball stay on their back foot and constantly react to their opponent.
By staying on your toes you allow yourself to react better and explode to cut your defender off and lock them down.
Staying in an athletic position also involves being in a low athletic position. This does not mean you have to have your hips parallel to the ground or even be that low on defense. It does mean however you should be in a position where you feel comfortable taking off and moving quickly.
3. Study Your Opponent
Studying your opponent simply means being proactive instead of reactive. By simply knowing your opponent's tendencies and habits you will better be able to react to their next move or play.
For example, let's say you are guarding someone who likes to shoot the ball. Well by being proactive instead of reactive it would be a good idea to guard up and pressure the ball and force that player to drive to the basket.
4. Basketball IQ
Basketball IQ simply in this context simply means being aware of what your opponent is trying to do given their certain situation.
This can help quickness because again this allows you to know where your opponent wants to go instead of being reactive on the play.
A great example of this would be understanding where your team's help side is on the floor. For example, let's say your coach designed a system to force your opponent's baseline and your team's help is going in that direction. Bu having good basketball IQ you will understand that your opponents going to try and go middle and that's when you react and cut off your opponent.
5. Focus On The Body
The basketball can be one of the most dicenptive things when guarding a player. But the body is not.
What this means is basically the ball can move all over an offensive player's area but the body can only stay in one place where the ball goes in multiple places.
Focusing on the body helps you not overreact to a situation and better move to defend your opponent.
For more information on defending the ball handler 1 on 1 check out the link here.
As you can see being quicker in basketball is much more simple than it might seem, even if you are naturally slow you can use some of the steps above to improve your quickness on defense and hopefully your defense as a whole.
Thank you for reading and as always keep hooping my friends.