This past year our team averaged over 76 points per game. Most coaches would be raving over that statistic. However, being known as a defensive specialist during my high school, college, and professional careers, the only statistic I am focused on this upcoming season is our team's 71 points allowed per game.
I know we've all heard that "defense wins championships" so why is it that most basketball players enjoy playing offense rather than defense? The simple answer is that it's just plain hard, and you have to be mentally and physically tough to do it! That is my type of athlete.
Here are a couple of tidbits to help basketball players take the next step to becoming a better defender.
1) Strengthen your lower body-quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, core you name it. My team just loves hearing me say that our best defenders on our team are the ones that can squat the most in the weight room. Think about it. Great defenders are in a constant stance, anticipating the next move, and able to move laterally and vertically in an instant.
Next time you play in a pick up game force yourself to stay in your stance on the balls of your feet every defensive possession.
2) Focus on getting deflections-whether you're guarding the ball or playing off, the best defenders know how to read the play before it develops. Great defenders anticipate rather than react.
Next time you guard the ball handler anticipate when they are going to make a pass and tip the bottom of the hand upward as they pass. You may not come up with the steal but you forced an errant pass.
3) Maintain vision of the ball and player at all times-the best defenders either lead teams in steals, charges, or rebounds. Each one of these categories began with the defender anticipating the offensive possession.
Make a goal for yourself in your next pickup game to come up with a realistic amount of offensive and defensive rebounds. Know the angles the ball typically bounces off and get there first!
If you enjoy the noise in the arena, defense excites the crowd more than anything else. Whether it's a 30 second violation, a steal in the back court, or a charge to win the game, defense not only wins championships but sparks any great offensive team!