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The Ultimate Guide to Help Defense

Posted by Coach Chris on Mar 11, 2019

Help Defense is one of the most important parts of any Man to Man Defense. When one defender gets beat, another defender is there to take up the slack and make sure the ball gets stopped. If your team doesn't understand how to help each other on the defensive end then your team's success is in trouble.

With this in mind, it’s time to go to the drawing board and we are here to help. In this article, NBA Assistant Coach Lloyd Pierce of the Philadelphia 76ers to teach your the basic defensive principle of Help Defense.

Step #1: How to Guard the Basketball

First and foremost, it’s about how do you guard the basketball. When the basketball is on the left side of the floor that is called the downside. If it is on the right side of the floor it is on the upside of the floor.

When the defense comes to close-out on the downside of the floor, the mentality is take away the middle. You do not want the offense to dribble or pass the ball to the middle of the court. The defender closes-out with their left foot up and left hand up to influence the offense away from the middle with their dribble and your right hand is up to take away any passes.

Defensive Stance Basketball

When the offense does try to make a move you have to know how to react:

RIGHT WAY

If the offense jabs or drives, the defense always uses their back foot first when taking a step in their defensive stance. This allows you to take a step to move with offense but keep your left foot forward to prevent the offense going to the middle.

Defensive Technique Basketball

Back Foot First

Basketball Defense Techniques

Still in Position


WRONG WAY

We never open up with our top foot because that opens up the middle. You can see the difference when you open up with your left foot how wide open that makes the middle of the court. It’s hard to recover on defense when you make this mistake so be sure to start with your back foot first every time.

Closeout Defense Technique

Front Foot First

Defense Technique Basketball

Out of Position


Check out a full clip of how to closeout and guard the basketball...


Step #2: Top Dribble Penetration to Middle

Set-Up...

    • Black Player 1 (BP1) and Black Player 2 (BP2) are on offense
    • Red Player 1 (RP1) is on defense starting on-ball
    • Red Player 2 (RP2) is on defense and starting in help-side
2x2 Defensive Basketball Techniques

Set-Up

Actions...

    • BP1 takes a dribble to middle of the court and RP1 guards them
    • RP2 is in help side and stays helping until BP1 passes out BP2
    • RP2 then closes out on BP2 and RP1 is now in help side position
2x2 Defensive Rotations Basketball

Actions

Check out a full clip of how to help on top dribble penetration to the middle...



Step #3: Baseline Dribble Penetration to Middle

Set-Up...

    • Black Player 1 (BP1), Black Player 2 (BP2) on the wing, and Black Player 3 (BP3) in the corner are on offense
    • Red Player 1 (RP1) is on defense starting on-ball
    • Red Player 2 (RP2) is on defense in high help-side
    • Red Player 3 (RP3) is on defense in low help-side with one foot in middle
3x3 Defensive Basketball Techniques

Set-Up

Actions...

    • BP1 takes a dribble to middle of the court and RP 1 guards them
    • RP2 is in help side and stays helping until BP1 passes out BP2
    • RP2 then closes out on BP2 and RP1 is now in help side position
    • RP3 reacts on the pass to get into one pass away defensive position which puts them in position to help on the dribble and recover on pass
3x3 Defensive Rotations Basketball

Actions

Check out a full clip of how to help on baseline dribble penetration...


Step #4: Basketball Goes to the Corner

Set-Up...

    • Offense (Black)
      • Black Player 1 (BP1) and Black Player 2 (BP2) are on the wings
      • Black Player 3 (BP3) and Black Player 4 (BP4) are in the corner on offense
    • Defense (Red)
      • Red Player 1 (RP1) and Red Player 2 (RP2) are on defense and in one pass away defensive positions
      • Red Player 3 (RP3) and Red Player 4 (RP4) are on defense and in two pass away defensive positions

To start the drill...Coach starts with the basketball and will pass into an offensive player. In our example, Coach passes the ball to BP2.

4x4 Defensive Basketball Techniques

Set-Up

Actions...

Frame 1

    • Coach passes the ball into BP2 and RP2 closes out to protect middle
    • The Defense shifts...
      • RP3 shifts on the pass to one pass away defensive position which puts them in position to help on the dribble and recover on pass
      • RP1 shifts over a few steps so they're nearly in middle of the lane which puts them in position to help on the dribble and recover on a pass
      • RP4 doesn't shift much on the entry pass because they are still two passes away from the ball in help side ready to help if ball gets to middle and recover on a skip pass
4x4 Defensive Basketball

Frame 2

    • BP2 passes the ball to BP3 and RP3 closes out to protect middle
    • The Defense shifts...
      • RP2 shifts on the pass from on-ball defense to one pass away defensive position which puts them in position to help on the dribble and recover on pass
      • RP1 shifts a few steps to two passes away defensive position which put them in the middle of the lane ready to help on the dribble and recover on a skip pass
      • RP4 doesn't shift much on the entry pass because they are still two passes away from the ball in help side ready to help if ball gets to middle
4x4 Defensive Rotations

Check out a full clip of how to help when the basketball goes to the corner...


Step #5: Dribble Penetration and Cutters

Here's a quick video breakdown and demonstration on how to help against dribble penetration and cutters....

Dribble Penetration

Cutters


Learn More

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