We’re going to go through three key aspects of the defensive stance, to help you dictate the play on defense.
Although often overlooked, defense in basketball IS a skill.
It also makes up half of the game, so as a basketball player, it deserves your attention.
For your defensive stance, your feet should be wide apart, putting you in a low and stable position.
Often, whoever is lower to the ground between the offensive and defensive player will win the battle.
(This makes a low position more important against shorter players)
As the offensive player, a low position allows you to powerfully explode past defenders.
As the defender, it allows you to cut your defender off and absorb contact in a sturdy position.
However, despite being strong and stable, being too low has its disadvantages.
It becomes more difficult to move quickly from side to side and react to your opponent.
Because of this, keeping your feet a bit more than shoulder width apart is recommended.
This grants you the required lateral quickness, while still putting you in a low/stable position.
(But of course, this can be adjusted to suit the situation)
Different people will preach different things for your hand placement. Each argument does have its advantages.
Keeping one hand up allows you to defend a potential shot or pass.
Meanwhile, having both hands stretched to your sides allows you to focus more on defending the dribble and staying in front of your opponent.
Again, it depends on the situation and what type of player you are guarding.
HOWEVER, what you must take away from this is to keep your hands active on defense.
This is a vital trait for playing lockdown defense.
Make sure your hands stay moving and in a position to pounce on any mistake or opportunity.
Laziness will ALWAYS get you burnt as a defender.
This case is no different.
Lean of the body
STANDARD DEFENSIVE STANCE
To recap, in a standard stance, your feet are slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
Your knees will also be bent slightly, lowering you into a stable position.
Lastly, your body will be largely upright, perhaps with a slight forward lean.
Under normal circumstances, this stance will do the job.
FORWARD LEAN STANCE
Ever been in a position where you predict your opponent’s move, reach for the ball, but can’t get it?
Next thing you know, the offensive player’s got you beat.
Adding a forward lean to your stance could solve your problems.
This is the same as a standard stance, but with your upper body much more parallel with the floor.
A good way to check, is to make sure your elbows are by your knees with your back straight.
This brings you closer to the ground, making it MUCH easier to poke the ball loose.
More steals for you.
But, there are risks. You must be much more athletic to maintain this position, since the stance limits your lateral quickness in comparison.
Because of this, it’s best to use this stance wisely.
For example, when the offensive player is slower/less skilled, or when your team desperately needs a stop.
Otherwise – especially against very skilled/explosive players – the standard stance is likely to serve you better.
Here are some defense drills, to put these stances to practice and improve as a basketball player.