Defend like Michael Jordan

How to Defend like Michael Jordan (A Masterclass)

So, you want to become a better defender. Well, here’s a masterclass on how to defend in basketball from the GOAT, Michael Jordan.

Not many people talk about this, but Michael Jordan was an excellent defender.

When Jordan’s name is mentioned, a lot of people only talk about how legendary of a scorer he was.

Or how great of a dunker he was. Or how being offended by other players or coaches was actually his “secret stuff.”

But they rarely ever talk about his defence. They usually attribute this skill to his teammate, Scottie Pippen.

It’s as if they got amnesia and forgot that he was the 1988 Defensive Player of the Year.

Or that he was a 9-time All-Defensive Player. Or that he was the steals leader in 1988, 1990, and 1993.

People just forget that Jordan was an irritating pest on D.


The Time Jordan Recorded a Career-High in Steals

But here’s a little reminder of the damage that he can cause on defence:

There was this one game in 1988 where Jordan activated the snatcher in him and stole a career-high 10 steals.

10 steals! Only a handful of players have this achievement under their sleeve.

It was on January 29 and the Chicago Bulls were playing against the New Jersey Nets.

So, how was he such a great defender?

It’s because he has great defensive fundamentals, knows how to read the offence, and, most importantly, he puts in the effort to guard his man on the defensive end.

That’s it.

That’s all you really need to be a great defensive player.

So, how can you be a better defender and guard like MJ? Well, first you have to learn, practice, and master the fundamentals.

How to Improve Defence

The following videos, which talk about stance, where to look, how to move, and team defence, will teach you how to do so:

Defensive Stance

Key Notes:

  • Which foot goes forward depends on which direction you want to force your opponent
  • Stay on balls of feet because it will be easier to react and move
  • When going for steals, flick the ball up. Don’t swipe down because this can cause a foul.

Where (and How) to Look on Defence

Key Notes:

  • Don’t move (or swivel) your head to track your man or woman and the ball. Just look in the middle of the two and use your peripheral vision to keep track
  • BONUS TIP: When in one-on-one situations, keep your eyes on the torso of the player you are defending. This will prevent biting on eye fakes, shot fakes, and (sometimes) dekes.

How to Move on Defence

Key Notes:

  • PIVOT! PIVOT! PIVOT! (any “Friends” fans here?)
  • Stay low because this will make it easier to switch positions and move
  • If you’re not sure what defensive slides are, click here and read this article, which shares various drills you can do to work on your defence

Team Defence

Key Notes:

  • Stay in defensive stance (to be able to react to offence and slide)
  • Use peripheral vision (to keep track of man or woman and the ball)

Benefits of Learning Defence This Way

This set of videos is a masterclass on basketball defence. There’s a wealth of knowledge in them.

Not only does Jordan talk about how to stand when defending, but he also goes into how to move to be a good team defender.

It’s a complete class on how to defend from one of the greatest basketball players ever.

Thus, if you study the videos and practice what Jordan preaches, your defence will improve.

And if you take it one step further and actually apply the knowledge to the games you play, you’ll improve even more.

And if you take it to the next level and play defence with effort, then, well damn… you will rarely get scored on.

You can click here to learn some games and drills that combine all these skills.

Final Thoughts

Defence is usually something that a lot of players brush off and put to the side.

It takes too much work to be a good defender and there’s nothing sexy about it. Many players get lazy on this end of the court because of that.

But basketball is a “two-end” game. It’s not just about scoring and offence.

Defence is a big part of the game as well and it’s the most important aspect of the sport (I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “defence wins games”).

Thus, you have to put in the effort to improve it (or at least more effort).

So, go over the Jordan defensive masterclass again and get to work. And work with the mentality of a potential DPOY player.