Did you know that you be the worst offensive player on your team and still become one of the main reason why your team wins.

For example, former NBA great Bruce Bowen was one of the worst offensive players on the San Antonio Spurs. However, his excellent defense play on the opponent’s best offensive player on a nightly basis helped propel the San Antonio Spurs to 3 NBA Championships, evidenced by the fact the NBA elected him into its NBA All-Defensive Team 8 times throughout his illustrious career.

Playing excellent defense is as important, if not more important, as scoring the ball a lot. Even if your shots are going through the basket, you can keep your team in the game just by playing defense and preventing your opponent from scoring.

Playing good on-ball basketball defense mostly comes down to how badly do you want to prevent your opponent from scoring. You have to mentally possess the mindset that you will not let your opponent score.

Here, I will lay down some fundamental on-ball defensive techniques that will get you started on becoming one of the best defensive players on your team.

1. Arm/Hand Movement and Positioning. Use your arms and hands to your advantage. Use it to not only to steal the ball, but also to deflect passes and block your opponent’s vision of the entire court to prevent him or her from finding an open player. Also, as a general guideline, keep the hand opposite of the side your opponent dribbling the ball down with palm up so you can steal the ball, while keeping the same hand up to block your opponent’s vision.

2. Feet positioning. Make sure to keep your foot shoulder-width apart and bend your knees in a comfortable position so you can quickly move around while sliding. Players especially at youth level should force the opponent to dribble towards his weak-hand to have more success to prevent him or her from scoring. Also, make sure to stay on your toes to have quicker reaction time instead of on your heels.

3. Slide your feet. When you are sliding your feet, push off your inside foot to slide quickly towards one direction. For example, when sliding to the left, push off your right foot to quickly slide to the left side. Also, make sure your foot does not cross, or else the offensive player will immediately drive past you if he or she changes direction.

4. Do not jump on shot fakes. I see a lot of youth basketball players jump to try to block a shot when the oppenent fakes to shoot the ball. An effective technique to disrupt a person’s shot would be to put your hands up while maintaining good positioning in case he or she tries to drive past you. If you can, try to put your hand close to the shooter’s face to disrupt his or her shot even more effectively.

Despite these fundamental techniques I have laid out as a foundation, it is definitely not enough to make you become an excellent defensive player. Practice and repetition is the key to becoming a solid defender. Join our Weekly Training Basketball Academy to put these defensive techniques to use and learn how to play good defense in different game-like situations.