Youth Basketball Defense
How to Guard the Ball

With On-Ball Youth Basketball Defense, we establish a good defensive stance with Heel-Toe arrangement of feet. The front foot of the Heel-Toe Stance is considered the Influence Foot - with the left foot up, we are influencing the ball handler to the left - with the right foot up, we are influencing the ball to the right.

The Heel - Toe Stance

Basketball Defense

When playing youth basketball defense - on the ball - guarding the player with the basketball - we want to establish a good defensive STANCE - between the man and the basket. In this on-ball defensive stance we want a HEEL-TOE Stance with front foot (this is our Influence Foot) heel on the same line as back foot toe. It is good to have the kids find a line in the gym and put their left heel on that line, and shoulder width or slightly wider place their right toe. Please notice the players in the picture above establishing a Heel-Toe Stance.

Knees bent at 45 degrees to the floor, back straight (not bent over), head down and between knees -right and left - and forward and backward. Many kids try to play defense bent over with their head in front on their knees. This causes the player to be slower, have less balance, and encourages reaching with the hands.

We like our palms UP and want to work the ball from the floor up.

DO THIS - stand directly in front of your kids and tell them to get in a Defensive Stance. Now tell them to FOUL you. They will push, shove, slap, grab, and reach - ALL FOULS. Now tell them to stay in stance and put their palms UP - then tell them to foul you. They can only SCOOP with their palms UP - and NOBODY has ever been called for a SCOOPING foul!

Weak Hand Influence

We use the term "Weak Hand Influence" to teach the kids to Influence the Ball Handler to their Weak side. In other words, most right handed players, will be more confortable dribbling the ball in their right hand. We want to pur our Left foot up in the Heel-Toe Stance, and Influence the Ball Handler to put the ball in their left hand.

Weak Hand Influence is one of the more significant game changing techniques in youth basketball defense that a team can use to change the outcome of a game. Watch a youth game sometime, and pay close attention to what side of the court the Offense starts on each time down the floor. It is common to see that 80-90% of ALL possessions start on the RIGHT side of the floor, likely because MOST players are RIGHT handed. If your team can change that and make the team you are defending start to the LEFT, it will have a significant impact on the game. By the way, many teams at higher levels of play could also benefit from this technique.

The Broom Step

Defense - Broom Step Postition

We use the term "Broom Step" to get the kids to imagine that they have the end of a broom handle stuck between their knees as they establish a defensive stance. We want to use short Step/Slide footwork to move out of our defensive stance with the imaginary broom in. This broom allows us to stay down and not bring our feet and legs together. Bringing our feet and legs together would cause our head to go up and down and we would lose balance and quickness.

As you can see in the picture, we actually show the kids a broom and cut the end off. Then we put the broom stick between our knees in defensive stance to demonstrate the concept of broom step.

Advance, Retreat, and Swing Steps

Watch a Free Video Clip of Advance, Retreat, and Swing Steps - Youth Basketball Defense

Now out of the Heel-Toe defensive stance with the Broom in, we learn to move with 3 steps:




The ADVANCE STEP is a forward STEP with the front foot of the heel-toe stance, and a forward SLIDE with the back foot. ALL movement is done with the STEP/SLIDE technique.

The RETREAT STEP is a backward STEP with the rear foot of the heel-toe stance, and a backward SLIDE with the front foot.

The SWING STEP is simply swinging on the rear foot to change front feet. In other words, changing from left foot up in the heel-toe, to right foot up. This step is often used when the ball handler changes direction with a dribble.

These three primary steps establish a great foundation for Youth Basketball Defense.

Return from Youth Basketball Defense to Home Page