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Many coaches will tell you that the best offense is a good defense. That is true to a large extent. The definition of defense is: "The act of defending against an attack or danger." The antonyms of defense are listed as "aggression or attack." We'll talk in a minute about how I disagree with that when it comes to basketball. In sports, defense is defined as: "Means or tactics used in trying to stop the opposition from scoring." Let's start there.

A good defense may create turnover opportunities that typically lead to easy transition baskets. Missed shots give the defense rebounding opportunities to start fast breaks. Most importantly, defense simply gives your team stops. It's difficult for your opponent to go on big scoring runs when you're keeping them from getting good shots.

On the other hand, your chance of good scoring runs increases because, even if you're having an off night at the offensive end, your lead can go from 4 to 6 to 9 and so on if you don't let your opponent score.

How does a team do that best? There are scores of different methods. Not every team will have the ability to get out and create turnovers, but it is undisputed that shooters miss "contested shots" at a great rate. So, whatever defensive method is employed, it should be developed with the philosophy of being in position to contest shots. We like to talk about "one contested shot." That implies that, if you get a shot, we are going to have a hand up on it and you will only get one because we will get the rebound.

That being said, with the evolution of basketball into a more "attack-oriented" competition, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sit back and simply "defend" your basket. It becomes important, at times, to be the aggressor while on defense, rather than the reactor. A lot of this has to do with the role of the official. There is so much contact in the game today that officials seem to be allowing more and more without calling a foul. If they don't control the number of fouls called, they feel that the game will become a free throw contest. As a result, they "let the kid's play" and wait until they see a perceived "advantage or disadvantage" to the contact before blowing the whistle.

Too often, an attacking offensive player will create a contact situation that gets the officials' attention. Then, the "reacting" defensive player continues with the contact and the defense gets whistled for a foul.

So, be the aggressor. Not to the point of fouling, but put the offensive player on the defense. Have them worry about the "attack." Put them in "danger." Make the offense worry about "protecting" the ball, rather than running their offense or getting good shots. Then, contest those shots and rebound. Now you are off to the races!



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