Typically when watching youth basketball, you see one of three different defenses:

  • Man to Man
  • Zone
  • Constant trap

Usually the better teams play man to man or constantly trap, while the weaker teams usually play zone to try and hide their deficiencies. Depending on your roster though, there are other interesting options that you might choose.

Point 4 Defense

Have you heard of a Box and 1? This is the opposite of that. Basically, what you do is put your tallest player in the middle of the lane on defense. Their sole goal is to stop layups and get rebounds, basically providing a help player at all times on close shots. They also act as intimidation for driving to the basket as usually they can block some shots if they’re tall enough.

The other 4 players then pick up their players man to man. But you’re saying, “One person will be wide open!”…exactly. Figure out their weakest player (or person who just cranks bad shots) and just leave him open. Let him shoot them completely out of the game. A lot of teams have a weak player that you can use against.

I made a video about it below:

Point 4 Trapping Defense

So you’re playing a team that has some inside players but has some weaker guards. This makes it hard to guard them inside as they have a size mismatch, so they dominate you on the boards when you try and play man to man or zone as they just rebound every shot they miss.

The key with this is to never even let them get a shot off. You put your best defender out front, right at the half court mark. Your tallest defender back in the middle of the lane. Then when the point guard dribbles up across half court, you pressure him with a trap or double team, trying to get him to throw a bad pass (or just steal it from him outright). If you have a good defender out front, you can get steal after steal from them for fast break layups. This effective takes their height advantage out of the game, as they can’t get the ball to them in a position where they can score easily (if their tall guys do get the ball, it’s usually 20 feet from the basket, and they’re usually not very strong dribblers). And if you steal for fast breaks, that takes their height away on defense. It allows you to really ramp up the scoring against a team you might lose to playing a normal defense.

I’ve also played defenses where we intentionally leave someone open if they’re a particularly shot happy player who can’t make anything (you know, the kid who shoots every time he gets the ball no matter where on the court he is?). Just let them win the game for you. I’ve seen other coaches use this as well, it’s pretty effective if the other team’s player is significantly worse than the rest of their team.


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