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Differences between guarding the players who are one-pass or two-passes away from the basketball

When guarding a player who is one pass away from the ball, the defender should get in the passing lane between his man and the ball, denying the pass. His body should face his opponent, with head turned slightly, allowing him to see both ball and man.

His stance is not quite as low as it would be guarding the ball handler, but he is still down and ready to move.

The defender's nearest arm, toward the ball, should extends into the passing lane along with part of his upper body. The further away his opponent is from the ball, the farther off the defensive player the defender should be.

Basketball man-to-man pressure defense diagramWe can return to Diagram D-2 to observe this in the full-court. Diagram D-2 illustrates a typical formation in the 3/4 court pressure defense. You could use 3/4 court pressure, for example, when you want to apply pressure man-to-man defense after your team scores a field goal. Here is how your team would attack the opponentís offense at three-quarter court.

Note that offensive players #2 and #3 are both one perimeter pass away from the ball handler. Defender #3, however, is farther off his man than defender #2. The greater the distance between defender #3 and the ball allows defender #3 to be further away from his man, without jeopardizing his ability to recover if #1 threw long to #3. Defensive player #2, on the other hand, shortens the distance between himself and offensive #2 as the distance between he and the dribbler decreases.

Most of the rules of the man-to-man pressure defense come into play once the offense gets the ball past mid-court. Considering this and the fact that most teaching efforts are accomplished through part-method drills, the rules are stressed at this point. There are three reasons to use four-on-four scrimmage in teaching man-to-man pressure defense. Here are the reasons:

  1. When players initially learn their responsibilities four-on-four in a helping-type defense, it becomes much easier to play five-on-five.
  2. It helps your post players. They may not always be playing their men inside. The four-on-four work helps them to learn to play out on the perimeter.
  3. You are helping the defender gain confidence in guarding the man with the ball by encouraging him to keep pressure on his man. He knows he has help. If you begin teaching one-on-one or two-on-two defense, I believe the defenders would not put pressure on the ball because they would fear being beaten to the basket.

Diagram D-5: Swing Drill illustrates the first drill used to introduce your players to the man-to-man pressure defense. The offensive players remain stationary in this drill. The purpose of the drill is to teach the defenders their proper positions relative to the ball.

Offensive players #1, #2, #3, and #4 do get practice their passing as they swing the ball around the horn. Offensive player #1 begins with the ball and closely defended by defensive player #1, applying pressure and trying to force his opponent to the sideline.

Basketball man-to-man pressure defense diagramNote the positions of defensive players #2 and #3. They are in overplay position between their men and the ball, maintaining the previously discussed rule for defenders whose men are one perimeter pass away. They face their opponents, but turn their heads enough to continue seeing #1 with the ball at the same time.

 Defensive player #2 has his right arm extended on the line between #1 and #2.

Defensive player #3 uses his left arm in a similar manner discouraging the #1 to #3 pass. Earlier, I detailed the reason for working so hard to stop the guard-to-guard pass. But what about the #1 to #3 pass here? Why try to block this one also? Why, in fact, do we try to deny, deflect, or steal every pass? We indicated that the reason for this is to make the opponent dribble, or to take the opponent out of its intended offense.

Guarding the player two or more passes from the ball

This principle is demonstrated in Diagram D-5 by the position of defensive player #4, guarding the weak-side forward #4, who is initially two perimeter passes away from the ball. Defensive player #4 positions himself somewhere off that line between his man and the ball. At the same time he points to both at an approximate 45-degree angle.

The better the defenderís peripheral vision, the closer the angle between man and ball approaches 180 degrees. Defensive player #4 constantly adjusts this opened position in the lane in an effort to see both man and ball at all times.

He keeps his head steady, but moves his feet. As important as this is, it difficult to do all the time; however, practice improves this ability.

Why put the two-passes-away man in the lane? What does he do there? And why, if we are applying pressure, isnít he playing closer to his man?

To begin, when defensive player #4 is in the lane he should be able to beat #4 to the ball should #4 decide to move closer to #1. If #1 gets off a pass to #2, defensive player #4 should have enough time to get back into an overplay position between #4 and #2.

If you donít need defensive #4 on top of his man when he is two passes away, you can certainly use him more advantageously in that vital important help position in the lane. There he will be ready to assist any teammate who may need help. His presence alone in this clean up spot allows the man guarding the ball handler and the one-pass-away defenders to play their men more aggressively.

Look back at Diagram D-6B. If you can picture defensive player #4 in the lane supporting his teammates, it is easier to see how defensive players #3 and #5 can play in front of their men with confidence. The help manís position in the lane should enable him to accomplish the following when necessary:

  1. Support on any backdoor cut made by an offensive player one pass away from the ball.
  2. Cross the lane to stop a baseline penetrating dribble.
  3. Protect against the lob pass to a pivot man in the center.

Principle #1: The position of a defensive player guarding a man two or more perimeter passes from the ballÖÖ. is in the free-throw lane.

Swing Drill

As the Swing Drill begins in Diagram D-5, #1 passes to #2. Under game conditions, both defensive players, #1 and #2, should work hard to prevent this pass; however, in this drill all perimeter passes are allowed.

The pass from #1 to #2 keys a change in the position of each defensive player. This is indicated by the initial movement arrows shown in the diagram.

To become a good defensive player you must learn to move when the ball is in the air, regardless of whether or not his man moves.

Principle #2: When the defenderís man passes the ball, the defenderÖ. retreats in the direction of the pass.

When #1 passes to #2, defender #1 retreats in the direction of the pass immediately, regardless of where his opponent chooses to move. At this point, you may wonder whether the retreat rule is in conflict with the one-pass-away rule? We did, in fact, say that one pass away was played tough.

Suppose that #1 passed to #2 and remained in the same position. Player #1 would then be wide open for a return pass when defender #1 retreated.

The retreat rule is an exception to the one-pass-away rule, but it serves a valuable purpose. By retreating in the direction of the pass, the defender is preparing to beat his man to the ball on a possible offensive move to the basket. If, for example, #1 decided to cut to the basket after passing to #2, defender #1 would easily have an advantage on him as Diagram D-5 illustrates.

On the #1 to #2 pass, defender #2 now has the responsibility of playing the man with the ball. Therefore, he readjusts his position on #2 and plays him very aggressively.

To re-emphasize: defender #2 will play him straight up if #2 is in the non-shaded area; however, defender #2 will force him to the sideline if #2 has the ball in the shaded area.

Defender #4 is no longer two passes away. The #1 to #2 pass now puts him one perimeter pass away from the ball. Consequently, he must hurry back into position betwixt his man and the ball. Defender 4ís quick move back into an overplay position here illustrates why a defender two passes away from the ball must always see ball and man at the same time. There are two ways defender #4ís position can change from two passes to one pass away.

  1. Offensive player #4 can move in the direction of the ball becoming one pass away.
  2. As in Diagram D-5, the ball can move toward #4, such as the #1 to #2 pass

Consequently, defender #4 must keep both man and ball in his field of vision simultaneously in order to know when either of these situations occur. Although defender #4 sprints out of the lane to get back quickly, his last few steps must be made under control. Otherwise, his opponent could take him back-door.

When offensive player #2 has the ball, #3 becomes two perimeter passes away. Therefore, following the rule, defender #3 becomes the help man and moves into the lane keeping his man and ball in focus.

As the drill continues, as illustrated by Diagram D-5, #2 passes to #4. The second movement arrows in the diagram trace the defensive changes on the pass. Defender #2 retreats in the direction of the pass.

Defender #4, now guarding the man with the ball, must re-adjust his position accordingly. Contrary to accepted defensive teachings, defender #4 does not position himself between #4 and the basket. Instead, defender #4ís back is parallel to the baseline.

In this position, defender #4, in a sense, is inviting #4 to drive to the basket, but not on a straight line to the goal. This is an excellent area for trapping the ball handler. This will be illustrated. later.

Defender #3 is already in the lane prior to the #2 to #4 pass. On this pass, he moves a little further off, re-adjusting his position to see both #3 and #4, the man with the ball.

Defender #1 retreated on the pass from #1 to #2.

He now comes back even farther into the lane since his man, #1, has become two perimeter passes from the ball. Therefore, defender #1 can cheat as long as he continues to see both his man and the ball.

Legendary Coach Dean Smith used the Swing Drill in teaching pressure defense.

For a more thorough instruction, I suggest you run down to your local bookstore and purchase a copy of BASKETBALL: Multiple offense and defense, by Dean E. Smith, Allyn and Bacon, Boston ©1999.

Coach Smith considers the most fundamental and important defensive concept: "When the ball moves, either through a pass or dribble, we expect each player to move and re-adjust his position accordingly.

"The defense which fails to respond to the movement of the ball becomes vulnerable. This is why a passing-type offense is more effective than one which depends on a lot of dribbling.

"It is why we, for example, require a minimum of three passes before dribbling or shooting is permitted in our own free-lance passing game unless we have a lay-up possibility.

"A 12 to 15 foot pass requires the defense to make considerable adjustments in the short time it takes for the ball to move through he air. On the other hand, the dribble allows a gradual adjustment on each bounce of the ball." Obviously, this is easier for the defense.

Continued to next page>>>

Related Articles:
 How to coach the basketball man-to-man defenses
 Variations of the full-court man-to-man defense
 Drills for teaching the full-court man-to-man defense
 Differences in guarding the players who are one-pass or two-passes away
 Pivot defense inside and out with support
Transition drill: guarding against the back-door cut and All-Purpose drill
Keeping score of four-on-four drills and breaking them down

 

 
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