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What It Takes To Play Great Basketball Defense

Great basketball coaches all have one thing in common – they hold high value for a player that can play phenomenal “shut down an opponent” type defense. When you prove that you can hold a good scorer in check you will get plenty of playing time because you have will have become such a strong contributor to your team’s chance of winning. For this reason alone you must focus valuable time and attention to improving yourself defensively. The good news is, anyone can become a fantastic defensive basketball player. Anyone who wants to that is. Unlike developing a lot of other basketball skills, good defense is all about desire and hard work instead of natural born talents and athletic ability. During this article we will discuss the key ingredients that all great basketball players must practice.
Concentration
It’s a simple thing to do but yet it’s amazing how few players pay attention to it. Most players would rather think mostly about what they are going to do on the next offensive position than focus on playing good defense. Playing good basketball defense requires a lot of focus and concentration. You need to constantly be aware of what’s going on around you and what your opponent’s strengths vs. weaknesses are. Once your offensive possession is over you need to immediately shut off any thoughts that don’t have to do with gearing up for shutting down your opponent. Don’t think about what should have happened or what could have happened while you were on offense, instead start thinking about what your opponent might be doing to gain an advantage over you. Great defense is more about being in the right place at the right time than it is having superior jumping ability or athleticism and being in the right place at the right time demands concentration.
Work Ethic & Desire
One of the biggest reasons most players under-perform defensively is lack of desire. It’s more glamorous to be known as a great offensive player and because of that players want to spend all their time working on their offensive skills. Unfortunately not many fans notice or get excited about players playing solid defense. The thing that needs to be remembered though is that coaches don’t like to put players on the court that play poor defense and if you’re not on the court it’s impossible for you to showcase your offensive skills.
Also it should be pointed out that playing solid defense requires a lot of hard work. A lot of players are lazy on defense simply because their bodies tire so quickly when they work hard on defense. It requires a lot more physical stamina to play good defense than it does to play good offensively and players want to save most of their energy to show-off on offense. The bottom line is, if you want to play great defense you must work extremely hard getting your body in shape so that it can endure you giving it 100 percent on the court.
A Proactive Attitude
In order to shut down your opponent you must be proactive rather than passive. Instead of following your opponent around the court and letting them control the tempo you need to try and disrupt what they want to do. Be aware of what your opponent’s weaknesses are and expose them. If you’re dictating what type of shot they can have it’s much less likely that they will make the shot than if you let them easily get in position to shoot the shot they like to take. In other words try and force them to do what they don’t want to do instead of just passively guarding them until they get ready to shoot and then try to contest their shot at the last moment.
Knowledge & Fundamentals
Players that know the proper techniques and really understand the game of basketball have a big advantage when it comes to playing great defense. If you lack knowledge in any of these areas this would be where you want to begin your quest of becoming a great defender. Start learning the proper footwork, stances, arm positioning and spacing and then just study the rules of basketball and you’ll be ready to go.
Remember that ultimately the thing most people don’t realize is that anybody can become a great defensive basketball player. It’s not a matter of what talents and athletic abilities you were born with, it’s more a matter of how desirous and willing to work you are. All it takes is an understanding for the rules of basketball, proper technique, a proactive attitude, desire, concentration and hard work.

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