defend ball handler

How to Stay in Front of Ball-Handler

Having trouble staying in front of your opponent? Try these.

Being able to stay in front of the ball-handler is super important in basketball.

And this was something I had trouble with.

Many times when I defended a ball handler, they would zoom past me like those anime scenes of the really fast striker.

One second I would see my assignment in front of me and the next, they were gone like the wind. They would already be near the basket for the easy layup.

When I played one-on-one games, this would get really annoying because there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t recover quickly enough.

And when I’m playing team basketball, I’m constantly calling for help, which leaves opposing players open. I’m also contributing to the discombobulation of the team defense.

I was just too slow and too weak to keep my man in front of me.

And I’m sure this is something that you are experiencing, seeing how you’re reading this article.

So, what can you do to be a better man-to-man defender?

Well, you have to get stronger and you have to be a better anticipator.

How to Get Stronger

To be able to stay in front of the ball handler, you need to have strong legs and a strong core.

The reason why is that with strong legs, you will be able to move with or follow your opponent for a long period of time.

The stronger your legs are, the more stamina you’ll have. The more stamina you have, the longer you’ll be able to defend.

Having a strong core will help you stay balanced and upright when the ball-handler quickly moves in various directions and when he bumps into you as he tries to get to the basket.

To get stronger legs for defense, there are two simple exercises you can do:

1. Bodyweight Squats

Squats are a complete lower-body movement that will strengthen your entire leg. And when you do the bodyweight version (or with light weights), you will develop stamina.

Click here to learn how to do squats.

2. Defensive Slides

Slides are great because you get to kill two birds with one stone (or two veggie chickens with one compostable fork for you vegans). Not only do you strengthen your legs and improve your lateral movements, but you also work on defending the ball handler.

Click here to learn how to do defensive slides.

How to Work On Your Anticipation

To get better at anticipating the ball handler’s next moves, you just have to play a lot of basketball and be attentive.

You have to increase your basketball I.Q.

There really is no other way of improving it. Defensive slides might help a bit, but the most efficient and effective way is to play basketball and pay attention to how different players move.

It’s like watching tape, but in real-time.

Also, when defending, one of the best ways to not get bamboozled is to look at the ball handler’s torso.

If you look at their face or the ball or their legs, it’ll be really easy for them to trick you into going in the wrong direction.

But the torso is pretty stationary. It moves with the rest of the body so it’ll be hard for your opponent to deke you with it.

Final Thoughts

That’s two things that you need to do if you want to be a better on-ball defender.

So, what are you waiting for? Go and start doing them so that you can become a defender.

Additionally, if you want more help with learning the game and/or improving at it, I have basketball training guides you can download.

They’re templates (on Google Sheets and Notion) that lay out daily basketball workouts for you to do.

You can click here to learn more about them.