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A Guide To: Trust On Defense


Defending as a unit

Learning to play together on defense is perhaps even more important than on offense. On offense, individual brilliance or moments of magic can sometimes result in made baskets, but you generally have to defend as a unit. Even if you are outstanding on defense, your impact as an individual can be limited, as the offense can simply choose to shift their focal point away from your defensive assignment.

Alternatively, the offense may force you to switch in order to exploit a mismatch on your teammates. In these situations, communication is of paramount importance, as it is difficult for a single player to see the whole floor on defense. This is especially true for perimeter players who are often facing away from some opposing players.

Thus, to prevent any unnecessary switches or mismatches, you have to rely on your teammates to tell you where to go and what to do. This is reflected clearly in situations where the defense is required to move, for instance with backdoor screens and cuts. In the pick-and-roll, the help defender will need to make the read and call out the switch or hedge if necessary. If the primary defender hesitates, this can provide the split second that is needed for your opponents to get open and score.

Trust is also the factor that gives you the confidence to give your best in guarding your man up close, even at risk of being blown by. This is because you trust that your teammates will be there to play help defense, instead of blindly sticking to their assignment. Without trust and help, defense will have to be played solely on a one-on-one basis, which will give the offensive player an edge as the defense is relegated to a merely reactive role.