A Simple Man to Man Defensive Philosophy


I spent many years fine-tuning my Defensive Philosophy.  I wanted something that was not too complex, but yet allowed my team to have some control over what kind of shots we allowed opponents to take.  I preferred that players were not only responsible for their assigned man, but for stopping any drives to the basket too.  Thus, we did not switch, but played straight up Man to Man with “help.”

I developed or “borrowed” a series of drills that broke down my concepts and helped teach them in a progressive manner.  They ranged from 1 on 1 to 4 on 4 and were rotated throughout the season, with special emphasis to certain ones for upcoming opponent’s offenses.

The following are some of my thoughts on playing good team defense.  I used these guidelines for many years and was very happy with the results.

Guidelines for Non-Switching Man to Man Defense

  1. Keep the ball out of the “Tunnel.”  (Middle Lane)  

2. Push the ball to a side when its in the middle, preferably the weak-hand side.  (Force right-handed dribbler to his left)   

3. Ball on the wing, NO Baseline drive allowed.  Open stance toward baseline.  

4. Wing defender never forces middle.  He pushes driver up toward top of key.  

5. Determine “Pick Up Points” by the ability and quickness of your team vs opponent:  a. Full Court  b. Three-Quarter Court  c. Mid Court  d. 3-Point Line   

6. All “Pick Up Points” turn the ball to the sideline. 

7. Adjust the “Pick Up Point” during the game as needed.   

8. Contest passing lanes according to your team’s ability and quickness.  

9. “NO Switching” off assigned man, help, but don’t switch.  

10. “No Switching” screens, help, but don’t switch.   

11. Defend Pick and Roll with “Hedge” and “Over the Top” on shooters, “Under” on non-shooters or players out of shooting range.  

12. All defenders are expected to “Help” on the ball as needed & “Recover” back to their  own man.   

13. All defenders are responsible for stopping any drive to the basket unless scouting report says otherwise about your particular assignment.   

14. Passes into the Post are discouraged and/or denied.   

15.Cutters toward the ball are contested and denied. 

16. Cutters away from the ball may be screeners.    Loosen up to allow teammates to slide  through any screens.   

17. Defenders “See Ball” at all times.    

18. “Open Up” on backdoor cutters.   See the ball, find the man.

19. Close out on ball “Both Hands Up,” butt low, squeak out.  

20. All shots are contested.  Outside shots with one hand, post shots with two hands.

21. Players are taught “How” to properly block shots and “When” to block shots.    

22. All five defenders are responsible for rebounding an opponent’s shot attempt.

23. Players are taught “How to Foul,” without making it “Intentional,” for late game  situations.  Go hard for a steal as opposed to grabbing an offensive player.

For more from Coach Battenberg, check out his website at: http://www.coachbattenberg.net  or his Blog at: coachbattenberg.wordpress.com/



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