The game of basketball is constantly changing. Coaches everywhere are always on a mission to find new ways to improve their team. Most coaches will spend hour after hour drawing up new offenses and trying to come up with that unstoppable play that will get them that championship that we are all working for. Over the years I have spent and continue to spend a great deal of time doing the same thing. Each year I have adjusted our offensive scheme to match the talent I have on the floor. However, the past few seasons I have made a defensive adjustment that has generated a great deal of success.
When I first began my coaching career I had one defensive philosophy. Man to man defense all the time, every time. I believed that I could teach my players every year how to play great straight up man to man defense and that alone would be enough. As the years went by, I began to understand and embrace the idea of zone defense and how valuable it can be. In fact for a few years I became almost an exclusively zone defensive coach. A few years back, I began to experiment with using man to man defense along with zone defensive schemes and developed a multiple defensive philosophy that I am comfortable with and have had a great deal of success with.
The idea of multiple defenses is defiantly not a new concept. If fact it has been around a very long time and has been taught in a wide variety of ways. In my research over the years I have been introduced to so many ideas and philosophies, I have lost count. What I have done and I recommend often to other coaches is to do your homework, research several concepts and build a philosophy that works best for you.
My Multiple Defense Philosophy
Our basic defensive philosophy is to keep our guessing and never let them get comfortable with what we are doing. Our primary defense will always be man to man, but we will switch up how we play it and jump into zone looks several times throughout the game. We believe that with today’s great offensive players and offensive minded coaches, we need to be able to provide several different looks to control the tempo. Our main goal is to cause HAVOC and frustrate our opponents’ offense as much as possible.
My coaching staff and I base everything we do, including our zone defense around man to man defensive concepts. We begin each season perfecting our players’ man to man defensive skills and then work our way into our zone concepts. We do not rush this process and we emphasize the importance of these skills to our players on a daily basis.
When we are confident that are players can play aggressive and disciplined man to man defense we introduce our zone concepts to them, making sure they understand positioning, spacing and responsibilities at each step. We believe that our players must understand what we are trying to accomplish, why we want to accomplish it and how we are going to accomplish it.
After we are comfortable with our players’ progress we begin the process of teaching our players how to switch between defenses quickly and productively. All of our defensive sets are called using a simple number system. For example: “5” is half court man to man while “55” is full court man to man. “12” is a full court 1-2-1-1 trapping press and “6” is a half court 1-2-1-1 trap. We simply use “23” as our half court 2-3 zone and “13” as our half court 1-3-1. We will spend a great deal of our time having our players’ transition from offense into defense changing up our defense every time.
Another strategy we use in our multiple defensive system, is to always change our defense coming out of time out. If we are in a full court man to man press and our opponent calls a time out, we will immediately switch to a full court zone press or a half-court trap. We believe that more times than not the opposing coach will spend his timeout instructing his players on a press break and when we switch up, this will cause frustration and confusion. Then when we jump back into that press the players will have forgot their coaches’ instructions.
As the season rolls along and our players are grasping the system we begin to add little changes that give us even more defensive looks. For example, in our “55”, full court man to man press, we will begin to move the player guarding the in bounder into different roles. On one possession the defender will turn and help deny the ball. The next possession we may have them play over top and jump trap the first pass. This is a very simple adjustment that has paid off for us several times a season.
By the time we are approaching the play-offs, our goal is to have our team ready to run two different full court zone presses, three different half-court traps, two different basic half court zones and a several different types of full court and half court man to man variations. This is not a simple task and some years we are not able to accomplish everything we want. However, the system has been very good to us and we will continue practice and perfect it.
In conclusion we have found that having our players run this system has got them to work harder and get real excited about defense. It is rare to have a full team of players, who are excited about defense, but when we are forcing turnovers and able to get out and run the players seem to buy-in much quicker. This was a brief explanation of our system. Again, if you are looking to run a multiple defensive system, do your research and create your own system that best fits you and your team. Good luck.
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