By applying the following methods to being a lockdown defender, you’ll be shutting down whoever you’re guarding and dominating on the defensive side of the floor.
We all know that there are two sides to the game: offense AND defense.
So, even though defending might seem less glamorous, you should definitely pay it the attention it deserves.
I know it sounds like an old cliché, but it really is important to get into a low stance.
Remember to keep your lower body muscles engaged and ready to fire.
Being in a deep squat is unnecessary but just make sure you AREN’T slouched in a lazy stance.
This will allow you to have a more stable base, making you more able to absorb contact from who you’re defending.
It will also help you to slide laterally and change direction quicker. You’ll be reacting faster to your opponent’s movements.
As a lockdown defender, you want to keep your opponent in front of you as much as possible.
That means ‘getting low’ is key to giving your opponent the clamps.
Pay attention to your opponent’s attributes
No… not NBA 2K attributes, well… kinda.
Tailoring your defense to the player you’re guarding is also VITAL for a lockdown defender.
One aspect of this is paying attention to their strengths and weaknesses.
For example, if they are a lights-out shooter, you need to stay close when guarding them to contest the shot.
On the other hand…
If they prefer to score closer to the rim and drive to the basket (but can’t really shoot), it’s better to guard them at more of a distance.
This will give you more time to react.
It’s also important to pay attention to your opponent’s tendencies.
Often players will only have a small set of moves that they use.
As you see them repeat these moves, you can anticipate them and force a turnover or a bad shot.
Also, some players will tend to only drive to one side of the basket.
You can take advantage of this by opening up your stance a bit so that your chest faces their weak side more.
This will force them to play to their weakness.
Keeping your hands active greatly reduces how effective your opponent is.
This doesn’t mean reaching for the ball recklessly.
Having a hand up whilst defending can have multiple benefits. It will:
- prevent them from making easy passes inside
- help you contest their shot
- overall just IRRITATE them
But, the downside is that it makes you less mobile. It will be slightly harder to react to your opponent’s movements.
Regardless, keep your hands outside your body and active (even if they’re only at waist height).
This will bother your opponent and help you pounce on their mistakes.
Be assertive and control the play
This is probably the hardest thing here to get right.
BUT, it gets better with time and is dominant when mastered.
An elite lockdown defender is assertive and ‘controls the play’.
This means forcing your defender to react to you, instead of you reacting to them. (But again, this is different from reaching recklessly)
For example, making sure they take a deep shot rather than a layup, but still not leaving them open and contesting the shot well.
Another example is applying pressure to your opponent, forcing them to pass or turn the ball over.
As said before, this will get better with experience, but can be improved straight away.
Make the conscious decision to try to control your opponent’s actions, instead of just reacting to their attacks.
Consciously trying to make a habit of these methods will significantly speed up your journey to becoming a lockdown defender.