Eight Tips On How To Play Defensive In Basketball

This post has affiliate links. At no cost to you, we earn a commision for puchases made through links in this post. Read more

Are you a basketball player that wants to know how to play defensive in basketball? Well, you’ve come to the right place.  

To master how to play defensive in basketball requires a dedication to skill, strategy, and an insight into how your opposition plays. Playing defense requires an entirely different mindset to offense. Rather than focusing on the opposing team’s hoop, your main priority is to protect your hoop and stretch of court. 

Fortunately for you, we’ve outlined some of the best tips for how to play defensive in basketball below.

Eight Tips For How To Play Defensive In Basketball

Here are a few tips for how to play defensive in basketball:

1. Maintain Your Balance

One of the biggest tips for playing defensive basketball is to maintain your balance throughout the game. The motive behind every offensive move made is to try and get you off balance so the players can get past you. Once you lose your balance during the game, it becomes easy for your opposition to bypass your defense.

To keep your balance and composure as a defensive basketball player, make sure that you always stay grounded on your feet. Do not lunge for the ball and, most importantly, do not attempt to go for fake shots.

2. Keep Your Head Low 

This tip is closely linked to tip #1. Not only do you want to maintain balance, you also want to develop a low athletic stance.

As a defender, you need to try and maintain a low, athletic stance as it makes you more responsive to game changes. When you stand tall above the ball, it makes it difficult to move quickly as the ball moves. Keeping low will give you better control and explosive responsiveness.

3. Learn The Offensive

As a defender, you need to learn how to read the offense’s game style or strategy. You need to be able to anticipate their game and respond to it. Doing so can help you better control the game, even giving you power over how the offense plays. 

For example, forcing the opposition to make a difficult shot requires you to recognize that they’re moving to score. Your defensive game should force your opposition to play shots that have a low chance of getting the ball through the hoop.

4. Know The Opposing Team’s Players

As mentioned above, having great skills is one of the requirements for playing defensive basketball. Each player on the court has a unique set of skills and a defender’s role is to know what those skills are. You need to know which player excels in what way so you know how to approach them. It’s also important to know what they struggle with so you can force them to play in a way that is uncomfortable for them.

5. Communicate With Your Teammates 

Having a constant flow of open communication with your teammates will help you play more defensively and effectively.

Good communication with your team gives them a better understanding of exactly where you are on the floor and what moves they can expect from you.

What makes good communication in defensive basketball is deciding on what and how to communicate. You needn’t say something just for the sake of it. Make sure your communication is relevant. You should also be loud and clear in your communication so that nobody can mistake what you’re saying.

6. Listen To What Your Teammates Have To Say

Another aspect of communication is listening! Being able to listen effectively to your teammates will make you a better defensive basketball player. Hearing what your teammates have to say will make you better aware of your surroundings and keep you informed of important changes in the game.

Working as a team to play a good defensive game without foul results from good listening skills. Pay attention to what they have to say and ask for their input on the situation of your game.  

Choosing to listen to your teammates could make or break your game. Basketball is a team game and not just an individual activity.

7. Become a Disciplined Player 

To become an excellent defensive basketball player requires you to cultivate discipline.  You need the discipline to maintain your stance, keep guard of the ball, stick to the player you’re tasked with defending, and more.

Not only this, but as a defensive player, you should try to also be disciplined in your protection of your teammates and the game plan. Staying disciplined by committing to the details of your game will help you steal the ball from the opposition, without sacrificing your team’s strategy. This means avoiding poor play like reaching, committing fouls, wandering out of position, or abandoning the strategy.

8. Keep energy levels high by putting your best foot forward 

Ensuring that your energy levels are high and that you’re giving maximum effort will certainly help you improve your defensive play. Some of the best defensive basketball players are known to give their all to their game while maintaining stamina.

Defense is a position or game approach that requires longevity. You can’t put in your best only half the time. A good defensive player will give every opportunity their best shot to make sure that their team gets their shot at winning.

You can boost your defense efforts and energy by taking charge, not being afraid to dive, driving the ball forward and sprinting back, etc.


Wanted to know how to play defensive in basketball without fouling? Well, we’ve shared eight tremendous tips to get you into your best defensive game.

Keep in mind that defensive players who play their game well, use smart tactics and maintain good communication. They make informed decisions, using their knowledge of the opposition and its players to guide their responses. And, of course, don’t forget a good stance and discipline!

By using these tips for how to play defensive in basketball, you will become an amazing defensive player without fouling.