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Number 1 Coaching Strategy to Winning More Games

Number 1 Coaching Strategy to Winning More Games

     Imagine a seasoned HS varsity team playing against a very skilled team of 11-12 year olds. The younger players can all dodge but they are not going to beat the older players 1v1. They can pass the ball all they want but they won’t be able to penetrate the varsity defense. The varsity players are just too big, too fast and better trained. Eventually the younger players will take a low % shot or turn the ball away.

     Apply that same dominating defense and imagine a game against your league opponent. What if you had a defensive series where your team played tenacious 1v1 defense and no slides and doubles were needed? Every time an attacker drove to GLE, your defender took away all opportunities and forced the attacker to pass. Every time the middie split dodged up top, the defender drove that player away from any possible shooting angles and forced that middie to pass. The need to double or slide was eliminated because your team played great 1v1 defense. Your players had better footwork, speed, balance, toughness and anticipation which allowed them to suffocate the offense. Without the slides, the offense had no way of exploiting the chaos that follows. This scenario would be every coach’s dream. But why is this just a dream? What would it take to get defenses to become dominant 1v1 defenders?1v1

     Teams emphasize 1v1 offense more so than 1v1 defense by about a ratio of 4:1. Think about every drill, the focus is always on the offense executing. If an offensive player doesn’t beat the defender, the coach always shows the offensive player how to do it. It wasn’t because the defender played great 1v1 defense, it’s because the offensive player made a mistake. When the offensive player executes properly and beats the defender, the coach never stops and points out what the defender did wrong…never! Because coaches are watching the offense…it’s an offensive drill and the the emphasis is on the offense. What if coaches were to switch that around and instead focus on the defense? Or at least be 50/50? What if teams practiced the 1v1 defense as much as they focus on 1v1 offense? Guess what? Every day the offense is practicing 1v1 offense. How many days does the defense really get to work on 1v1 defense?

     In addition, most teams will spend a great deal of time on Team Defense; slides, recoveries, and rotations. They will spend a great deal of time learning about where the slide will come from, adjacent or crease. Who the “Hot” player is and who is “#2”. They work on where to recover and who is rotating where. The accountability of defending 1v1 has now been passed onto the other defenders. There develops a mentality of it’s OK to get beat because I have my teammates helping me. However during games there are still breakdowns with the team defense and it all originates from having to slide to help a defender who got beat. Offenses are drilled into forcing the defense to slide and then attack the back side before they can recover. Most offensive sets don’t really start until there is a slide. But if you are playing great 1v1 defense, there may not be any slides to help the offense get started. What if teams practiced 1v1 defense as much as they worked on team defense and slide packages?

What if every day the defense worked on their 1v1 defensive skills such as:

  • Stance
  • Balance
  • Footwork
  • Mental tenacity
  • Toughness
  • Situation awareness
  • Preparation for the player and know their tendencies
  • Techniques to counter various dodges

     If you focus on becoming great 1v1 defenders, the ability of offenses to score goes down exponentially. You’ll still practice solid team defense but your foundation is a lot stronger through being great at 1v1 defense.

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