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How To Defend Post Players in Basketball

September 4, 2017


To be an effective power forward or center you've got to know how to properly defend in the post. This article offers practical tips on how to get good positioning and stop your opponent from scoring inside the lane.



Post players are often very concerned about how they should play their man. Should they play in front or behind? Should they let their man get the ball and hope for the best or should they deny the ball getting to their man?


A lot of times the answer to these questions depends on whether or not your coach is trying to implement a certain strategy but for the most part there are some general guidelines that most basketball experts agree on.


A good post player should be denied the ball by fronting the post player. This means that you play completely in front of the player you are guarding and make them throw it over your head to get it to him. From a guard's perspective, that is one of the toughest passes to make so I like to force that pass whenever possible. If you can't get around your man to front him, simply don't let him get close to the basket. Don't let him back you down if you can.


A good offensive player will walk his defender into a position where he can get the ball. A good defender stops that by cutting him off and not moving. You are entitled to the position as well so hold your ground. The main point of defense is to force a contested shot as far from the basket as possible. By keeping the man we are guarding away from the basket, we are doing our job. When you are in front of the player he may try to push you away from the basket to create some space.

This is how I teach to beat the fronting defense. Counter this by immediately playing behind the post player. Simply reverse it. Now if he gets the ball he's away from the basket and that's what you want. This drill can be practiced by any coach who focuses time on post offense and defense. Every solid offensive strategy has a defensive strategy that should be equally effective. The players carry them out and are the difference in most cases.


When the ball is on a wing and you aren't able to get in front, try playing what is called the high side or the side closest to the foul line. This simply means that you want to get in the passing lane as much as possible and make the entry pass difficult. Make sure that you are playing physical and that you have some contact going on. Simply raising your arms won't cut it.


Have your chest against him and really make the entry pass difficult. Some coaches will call this 'playing your man three quarters' and is an effective strategy when full frontal isn't possible.


High Post Defense

I will allow the pass to the high post if it is coming in directly from the point guard. I will contest the pass, but I will allow it. The reason is because the pass is tough to make and I will have plenty of help defense should the necessity arise. But any pass from the wings, I coach to 'three quarter' defend it.


This means that I will body up to the high post player on the basket side so that my body is between the hoop and the player I'm guarding. I want to make the pass difficult to make by sticking my arm out so the offensive player looks covered.

My job in that situation is to make the play as difficult as possible. If the player catches the ball at the high post, do not back off and create space. The shot is only 15 feet away and most players can hit that. Get up on the ball and pressure it. Stay low and be ready to slide or contest the shot.

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