Bear Bryant is credited with the quote: “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” Everyone loves to see a fast break layup, the crowd loves the dunk and three point shot, but if you can’t stop your opponent from scoring you can’t win games. Defense is an offense if executed properly.
I believe that steals are not a reflection of good defense but instead good defense produces steals in the passing lanes. Proper position on defense stops a player from scoring and it doesn’t require a steal. Bad defense will produce fouls and free throws or a shift in help defense that could give up points in the lane.
In the link below, you will see Pat Summitt’s defensive warm-up drills for her teams. It is only five minutes long but it is packed with great teaching moments for players to understand good defensive position. “High hands, low hips, and quick feet” She focuses on closing out first, sliding to push the dribbler to the sideline, and talking…..ball ball ball….dead dead dead….>>>not once does she teach stealing the ball. That doesn’t mean a defender can’t steal a ball; I don’t think she meant that and neither do I.
BUT at this middle school level, it requires more discipline and focus to stay in position and resist the temptation to steal a ball. Any decent player can steal from a weak ball handler, but developing proper skills with hands, hips, feet and talking while playing defense is valuable because it works against stronger ball handlers that I guarantee you will see at the high school and college level. One player can’t defend against five. It takes a disciplined team effort.
I want my players to discipline themselves, to stay in a slide that puts pressure on and turns the ball handler. Your success will create confidence in your abilities and your teammates confidence in you to do your job. Once we stop the ball handler, the other four players should be sliding in proper position to defend their man or their area and steal those passes.
"Group discipline produces a unified effort toward a common goal. Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work.” As a team we have to be disciplined to do our jobs to succeed at our common goal.....to keep the opponent from scoring. Pat Summitt
You may not completely understand this at first but I will teach you and you need to trust me that the results from this disciplined form of defense will benefit you in years to come as you continue to grow and develop. You will be faced with stronger more challenging opponents that have better ball handling where you MUST slide to stay in front of her. Proper defensive position is a skill that will be a huge asset for you and your future teams.
On this link below, scroll down to chapter 1 and choose “Back Court”- defense. Even though it is demonstrated in the back court, it is also the form used in man to man defensive positioning. Coach Summit focuses on spacing between defender and their offensive opponent. The focus is not on stealing the ball but applying pressure, turning the dribbler and forcing them to change direction disrupting their ability to drive or shoot.