- Get layups/ open 3 point shots
- Play off a numbers advantage 2 v 1, 3 v 2, 4 v 3
So in our defense, we want to take these away by:
- Sprinting back into the paint area to prevent layups. Force mid range jump shots.
- When there’s a numbers advantage, go into a zone temporarily until help gets back.
Sounds simple? Well it’s easier said than done- I’ll break down these principles in depth for you and explain what drills you can use to teach the vital concept of transition defense.
Kevin Eastman’s 12 Tenants of Transition Defense
- On the raise of the shot, the 1, 2, and 3 get back ( 4 and 5 can go to the glass). It is better to give up a few offensive rebounds to have a better chance of getting defense set
- The first three steps are most important in terms of sprinting back on defense (beat your man to ½ court)
- Players must get “below the ball”
- We are guarding their team, not our matchup
- 2 guys back are in tandem
- 3 guys back are in triangle
- 1st big guy back protects the basket
- 2nd big guy back “loads to the ball” if ahead; with the goal being to take away any seams and to stop dribble penetration. With great penetrating players, you need to “load to touch” meaning, pressure them to give the ball up with a pass with the threat of a double team.
- Find the ball. Don’t just find your matchup.
- Get to “shrink spots” (help). Again, take away all possibilities of penetration. Do not allow any seams
- Make them throw 2 passes in transition
- Use your voice and your fingers in transition defense
Keep reading to find out how I break down each of these tenants.
1. Last man and offensive boards
2. Get below the lowest player'Guard the basket, not the man' - Kevin EastmanClick To Tweet
On a missed shot, the 1-3 has to sprint back immediately. We’re not challenging the ball handler or the rebounder because we’re eliminating all unnecessary decisions apart from simply sprinting back. The first three steps are crucial in getting back. Instead of back peddling, you want to do a crossover step to turn around and then sprint.
Things to avoid:
- Gambling for steals and getting beaten. This creates a numbers advantage.
- Trying to distract or steal from the rebounder. This slows you from getting back.
3. Defend the Basket, Not the Man
- Players tend to buddy up and only mark their man. This leaves other players open.
- Marking slows down getting back because players have to search for their man.
Here you will see how the mini zone works. When you have 1 player back, you want to get as low as the lowest man. When 2 players are back, you want to form an “i”. With 3 players back, you want to form a triangle. Notice how each player that comes back “bumps” a player down.
2 v 1 situation
In a 2 v 1, you want to “get as low as the lowest offensive player”. Meaning, you need to be parallel to the player closest to the basket. Since our goal is to force a long jumper and not a layup, we don’t want to come up and over challenge the mid range jumper. In the diagram above, you’ll see that the shooter can dump the ball to the other player for a high percentage shot if you challenge them. Instead, you can try stunting to buy time. This is when you’re pretending to challenge by taking a jab step in that direction, but you’re not really committing.
3 v 2 Situation
When you have 2 players back, you want to form an “i” shape. On the pass to the wing, you want the bottom player to closeout and the player at the top to drop back and cover the middle.
When the 1st big comes back, they need to get into the paint and swap the guards out to their man. They need good communication here to make the switch.
When the second and last big man comes back they need to load to the ball. This means coming over to pressure the ball with a quick double team However, the big should load only if they are ahead of the last offensive player. If they are ahead, then they need to come down through the middle of the floor with the intention of helping the defender and preventing any middle penatration. Don’t over commit and make sure to jump back to man as soon as the offensive player comes parallel. As soon as the ball handler is forced to pass the ball, or drive sideways, then they’ve done their job.
Communication is a very critical part of defense yet many young players stay mute during games.
Here’s what communication does for a defense:
- Intimidate the offense (can play with other teams’ heads)
- Give you a head start at whatever your next movement is (i.e. fighting a screen; early communication allows you to start fighting through a screen before the screener makes contact)
- Man guarding the ball has much more confidence
- Wakes up a disengaged defense
- Catches mistakes before they are made
- Energizes our team (our best practices are our loudest practices)
Players must use their voices and their fingers on transition. The player guarding the ball should say ball, if someone leaks out and they are unable to catch up then they must yell for help. Pointing to aid directions can do wonders in a frenetic scenario.
Drills for transition defense
Here’s a great game for practising communication. Ask your players to jog around the perimeter of the court. The coach will yell out a random number from 1 – 5, players must form a group hug with that number of players. The odd player out needs to do pushups.