Double-teaming poorly is nothing other than very stupid basketball. Committing two defenders to the player with the ball of course leaves three teammates to guard four offensive players, an easy scoring situation if the ball is allowed to be passed to the open man.
That “if” is crucial to the two players double-teaming the ball, and it gives them one critical assignment. They must make the player with the ball feel intense pressure, so that he is not free to look around and decide who he would like to throw the ball to. To apply intense pressure, keep your feet wide apart so that the player with the ball cannot step by and beat the double-team. Keep your arms up and waving to distract a pass, but do not jump to block it. Stay on your feet, ready to recover quickly if a successful pass is made.
Although coaches teach the double-team differently (and most don’t teach it at all; they simply say, “Get on him. Get all over him. Pressure him. Make it tough.”), there are some considerations which are useful if your coach has not specified how he wants it done.
In the backcourt, it is possible to get many steals by allowing the player with the ball to split the double-team and then steal the dribble. Your thinking here is, “Be sure his only possible movement is toward the other double-teamer, and be ready immediately to run with him when he splits the double-team and dribbles up the court.” Players in the backcourt are likely to be thinking “dribble” if they are able to split the double-team.
If the split comes as a surprise to you and your defending teammate, you are in trouble, and the other team has a 5-on-3 break. However, if you both force the player with the ball toward each other, knowing that a split is the only possible way he can get out, and if you both are ready to run alongside him, he will have to be much faster than you to be able to dribble out. In most cases one of you will have an excellent chance of stealing the ball as it is dribbled up court between you.
Here, a dribbler may be allowed to split the two defenders, a risky play for the offense, with the ball still 80 feet from the basket.
In the frontcourt, when you are in a half-court trap, or simply double- teaming out of a man-to-man, you might alter your thinking to this: “Be sure his only possible movement is toward the nearest sideline. He may not split the double-team, but must have only the possibility of dribbling around it, toward the sideline.”
If the trap occurs very near the sideline, the double-team is even more effective, since the sideline acts as a third defender. Also, when there is only a half-court to work with, three defenders have a better chance of defending four offensive players, especially when they know that they only have to defend the narrow side of the court. When all five defenders know in advance where the ball will be forced, the defense is easier to play effectively.
In the frontcourt, a split is more dangerous and may lead to an immediate score. It is better to force the ball to the nearest sideline.
When there is a trap near the sideline, the three others must know that the double-teamers will not let the player with the ball turn back to the middle. By knowing this, they can leave a man open on the other side of the court without worrying that he will be the eventual receiver.
If you are on defense but not double-teaming, know where the ball is being forced. Prevent the most logical outlet passes, and don’t allow a pass for an immediate layup.
A double-team is not something an individual player can pull off effectively just by leaving his man and rushing the ball. The double- teamers must know what they are trying to accomplish, and the three other defenders must be prepared to react accordingly.
From Dick’s book Stuff
Dance is a word used to refer to a simple four-step routine that should be an every-time habit of all defenders when a shot goes up. No thought should be required. All four steps should become reflex, auto- matic. They are:
- Hand up, yell hey!
- Turn around and block out
- Move toward the basket
- Fast break
The process could easily be put to music, and the rhythm should lead to consistent execution. Hand-block-seek-go. Hand-block-seek-go. Hand-block-seek-go.
There is never a need to do one without the other. When your hand goes up, your mouth yells hey! and your body turns to block. These first two steps are one fluid motion. The next motion, oddly, is often omitted. Players fail to go toward the ball, especially those who usually do not grab the rebounds. They get in the habit of standing and watching, and they lose many tipped balls they could get during the course of a season. All five players should be on the move toward the basket until someone gets possession of the ball. You cannot hope to react to the ball if you are standing while it is tipped around. You need the momentum of going toward the ball to be able to grab it when your opportunity comes.
The final part of the hand-block-seek-go is left out even more often than the seeking of the ball. Players act as though they need a kick in order to realize it is time to break to the other end of the court. The moment you see one of your teammates get possession of the ball, you turn and sprint. If the defense is back, you may decide to slow down. But it is foolish to start slowly. A fast start is very possible and often successful, and it need be nothing more than a habit, an extension of the defensive rebounding dance.
From Dick’s book Stuff
Your coach has to help you counter changing defenses by giving you offenses to run against various defenses, or by giving you an offense that you know you can run against both a man-for-man and a zone. But you still have to recognize the changes, and besides, a team often may try to fool you by showing one “look” while actually being in another defense.
The best way to counter any confusion over what defense your opponent is using is to run through the lane to the other side (or send someone through to the other side) and swing the ball. You might want to call this a cut and a swing. If you have an offense that includes a quick cut and a swing of the ball, then use it and you will know immediately what they are playing. Are they going through with that cutter, playing man, or are they letting him cut and picking up, playing zone?
A defense can be cute when a point guard or any player is standing around in a nondangerous position with the ball and doing nothing. But regardless of what defense the other team is in, if you send a cutter through and swing the ball and threaten, that team will show you immediately what they are up to, or, if they are still in the process of disguising, there should be openings all over the court.
“Should be?” you might be saying, “but what if there aren’t?” If you cut from one side and quickly swing the ball and threaten from the other side, and you still don’t know what they are in, then it has to be a zone—or else you don’t know the meaning of “threaten.”
In fact, if you know how to threaten, every defense is a zone. This thought might not initially make sense, but it is simple when you think about it.
Every time you get the ball, if you can beat one man enough to force another to help out, then whether the other team calls it a zone or not, they are playing you three to four—a zone—or else they are leaving a man open, in which case their defense is neither man nor zone, it is “poor!”
In other words, if you can threaten a defense, it doesn’t matter what they call their thing, they are in a scramble to prevent you from scoring.
Don’t try to recognize a defense by studying it from afar. Call an offense or make a movement with a cut in it, and pass the ball and threaten. You can never go wrong by taking the ball forward and engaging two defenders. When you have a 4-on-3, you don’t care what defense they are in.
From Dick’s book Stuff