Streetball Defense: Understanding Your Man

Streetball is a fairly short game, when you compare it to organized basketball. 3-on-3 usually ranges from 7 to 11 balls, 5-on-5 last till 21. Unlike organized basketball, where there is a defensive system or philosophy in placed, your new found teammates won’t necessarily have the same defensive ideologies as you.

Be it switching-or-hedging on Pick-and-Rolls, to rotation of weak side help, to forcing baseline/middle… Don’t have that inherent expectation that your team mates can bail you out. That’s why limiting YOUR individual assignment’s efficiency is the highest priority on defense.

Good defense influences the offense to take a bad shot, or make bad decisions. Once you understand your opponent’s tendencies, it will be easier to influence him to do what you want him to do.

Note: This guide won’t show you ‘how to defend’, rather ‘what to look out for’. Having these knowledge will influence your individual defensive game plan. There will be a separate, in-depth guide on how to defend certain situations 


>Jump Shot
Know how much space you should give your man to get him to pull-the-trigger. Some people are trigger-happy enough to shoot under good contest, while others require a bit of extra space before they dare to shoot.

-Accurate Range:
He would more-or-less sink a shot from there if left open. This is the range where you don’t really want him to shoot freely. Keep a proper defensive distance and give a good contest.

-Comfortable Range:
He won’t necessarily be accurate, but would still take a jump shot from there. This would be the range where you want to influence him to take a shot. Give him enough space to feel confident enough to shoot.

>Dribbles and Drives
-Dribbling Style:
Some people like to dance around with the ball. Others prefer to pound-and-go. Know whether your opponent prefers going East-West (lateral) or North-South (straight), using little or many dribbles.

-Dribbling Purpose:
Some people like to attack the basket with their dribble. Others like to get better angles to feed the post, or even penetrate-and-kick to outside shooters. Some might even not want to dribble, instead, looking for opportunities to pass-and-cut.

-Gather (Picking Up The Dribble):
When a dribbler picks up his dribble, without transitioning to a shot or pass, that’s a period of vulnerability. Defense will pressure and body up on him. In this case, what would his tendencies be? Force a shot? Attempt to draw a foul? Would he try to lob the ball out to the 3 point line, or kick out to someone near by?

>Off Ball Activity (Support Play)
-Passive Supporters
Passive supports would ‘run with the ball’, setting themselves as an outlet for the ball to be kicked out if the ball handler runs into pressure. A ‘triple threat’ is more of a ‘dual threat’ unless the pass option can also lead to a score. Passive supporters would usually play a give-and-go, pick-and-roll, or catch-and-shoot kind of role, forcing defenders nearby to choose between helping on the ball handler, or stopping the kick out.

-Active Supporters
Active supports would seek to put themselves in the play, putting themselves in good positions to receive the ball. Unlike the “pick your poison” situation of passive supporters, Active Supporters make themselves ‘the better option’ in those situations. This include posting up their defenders down low, or making hard backdoor/front cuts; sending the ball there would have a high chance to a score.



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