This article was written by Brian Anglim. Brian has coached basketball at both the high school and college levels. He has several articles on The Coaching Toolbox
Basketball Defensive Stoppers
by Coach Brian Anglim
Finding and developing a defensive stopper should be a priority item for a coach. Having a player that can limit a star player is invaluable and this player has a tremendous effect on developing the intensity and focus to becoming a championship level defense.
- Don’t be confused with athletic ability. A long/athletic player who has a lot of activity might seem like a good defender, but how effective is he one-on-one versus a top offensive player. Great athletes often get in bad positions because they don’t know how to use their quickness effectively, they often overcommit.
- Get a buy in from the player. Let him know that he is special, he/she can do things his teammates do not have the ability and toughness to accomplish. They require more praise than any other player because their contributions aren’t apparent.
- If you can get that buy in then you need to give this player individual time, great man defense is a skill. Learn and teach all the nuances of the arm bar, closeouts, expanding and closing gaps with hop steps, holding, pushing to weak hands, etc. Give them extra time in the scouting report. It should be a sense of pride when in your scouting report. It should be a point in your pre-game speech that they are going to face a key defensive challenge.
- Fouling is a sin – some players see it as a badge of their physical nature. They need to see it as a mistake and strive to correct it.
- Teach them to be physical while being subtle in his/her approach. A term I got from Better Basketball’s Dynamic Defense was ESP – External Signs of Passivity.
- A stopper needs to be able to concentrate the entire possession, demand it. How often do you see a defender fall asleep when his man passes the ball or doesn’t make that last slide to cut off the baseline. The conditioning level of a stopper must be at the highest level, he needs to relish in wearing out his opponent mentally and physically.
- They understand the game within the game, they love seeing the frustration level in their opponent.
- They must be tough mentally and physically. It is great to have athletic ability but with concentration, toughness, and intensity it will be wasted.
A final defensive thought to leave you with, if you have an offensive player you can’t control don’t waste your best defender on him.
Put your worst defender on him and have your best defenders in position to help and control him when he/she penetrates.