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A key to being a good defender is to always put pressure on the ball. Don't let an offensive player do anything with the ball--dribble, pass, or shoot--without having one of your hands trying to get into the way. Force him to his weakest side. Make him go where he doesn't want to go.
This is good but don't get over aggressive and get into foul trouble. You also make sure that when your man makes a move you can be quick enough to react so you don't get left in the dust. If you are not quick enough play off your man and force him to shoot a low-percentage shot or try and go around you. Most of the time you should have a big man down low defending the paint so if the man does get around you, they'll have a tough time getting the shot over a 6 or 7 footer!!!!