Introduction Court and Teams Referees Play Offense
Defense Amateur Competition Professional Competition Olympic Basketball History
B. Defense
Defense is just as important to winning basketball games as offense. The goal of defense is simple: to stop the opposition from scoring. The more times a team stops an opponent from scoring, the more likely it is that a victory will be secured. The basic defensive technique involves guarding the opponent while keeping both feet at least shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly ahead of the other and the knees bent. When defending, a player’s weight should be placed on the balls of the feet to ensure quick movement in any direction. General defensive positioning involves skilled movement. A defensive player should take short, quick shuffle steps when moving side-to-side. Crossing one foot over another is improper defensive technique. Defenders want to force opponents away from the basket and limit the ability to dribble the ball toward the basket. Good defenders use quickness to steal or intercept the ball and are cautious not to foul. One part of playing strong defense is blocking the opposition’s attempted shot, because good shot-blocking teams make opponents hesitate about shooting. When defending an opponent who doesn’t have the ball, the general rule is to stay between that player and the basket being defended. Good defenders also play team defense, working together and verbally communicating among themselves to ensure that the offense doesn’t obtain an easy shot. There are two types of basic defensive team play, man-to-man defense and zone defense. In man-to-man defense, each player guards a specific opponent, usually one that plays the same position, so that a guard defends a guard, a forward defends a forward, and so on. In a zone defense, each player guards a specific area of the court. The most widely used zone defense is called a 2-1-2 zone, in which the two guards cover the forefront of the defense, the center guards the middle portion of the court, and the two forwards defend the area nearest the basket. A good 2-1-2 zone defense makes it difficult to pass the ball from near the basket back outside, hampers teams from initiating a smooth offense, and is effective in slowing down a fast-break style of offense. Zone defense used to be illegal in the National Basketball Association (NBA), but the league changed its rules in 2001 to allow it.