Defense Fundamentals – How to Play to Man-to-Man Defense

Fundamentals – Proper Man-to-Man Defense – It’s all about Balance and speed!

Tip #1 – Never lose your balance

  • If you lose balance for one second, YOU ARE BEAT!
  • The purpose of every offensive move is to get YOU off balance – because as soon as you lose balance, the offense can blow by you.
  • This means when you’re guarding the ball, you must:
  • Stay on your feet and do NOT go for shot fakes. When you go for fakes, you are beat!
  • Do not lunge for the ball and get off balance.
  • Stay in a WIDE stance. If your feet get too close together, you will lose balance.
  • Stay in a LOW and athletic stance. If you stand upright, you will more easily lose balance.
  • Take short steps when sliding. If your feet come too close together, you will lose balance.


Tip # 2 – If the ball is below the mid-section, put your hand above the ball.

  • This prevents the offensive player from putting it in shooting position.


Tip #3 – If the ball is in shooting position, put your hand on the ball.

  • This will stop the player from shooting and you NEVER have to leave your feet (which causes you to lose balance).


Tip #4 – If the ball is above the head, place your hands under the ball and flip up.

  • This keeps you out of foul trouble (because most refs only call fouls if you swing downward) and it also keeps the player from bringing the ball down to shooting position.


Tip #5 – Keep your head lower than the offensive player’s head.

  • That way you’re getting underneath the offensive player and will be in good position to slide your feet or take a charge.

Tip#6 – Footwork – push off your trail leg to explode into position

  • You won’t be explosive without pushing off your trail leg. Since you gain power from your trail leg to push and explode in the direction you want to go, sliding your back leg will reduce your ability to push off explosively and slide at an optimal speed.
  • Friction slows you down!!  When you slide your back leg against the ground, this creates friction. Friction naturally slows you down. And this is the last thing you want when you’re guarding an offensive player. You need the ability to explode in any direction.
  • That’s why we emphasize pushing or exploding off your back leg.

Here’s a Great Video demonstrating this technique