Psychology of Defense


What makes a great defender? 

It’s not hard to get excited about offense. Scoring baskets and playing with the ball in your hands is a fun way to play. 

Don’t forget, however, that offense is only half of the game. 

The other half is played on defense. 

Here we will look at key areas of defense to focus on. Understanding the psychology of your own defense will make you a more prepared player. 

Time and Space

Understanding defense is easier when you begin to understand what makes an effective offensive player.

If a player on offense has time to make decisions, they will look like a better player. If they have time to shoot, time to pass, or time to think, their chances of success are improved. 

Also, if a player on offense has space, they will look like a better player.  The more space a player has, the more comfortable they will be. 

Therefore, defensively you must strive to limit the amount of time and space the offensive player has, to limit their decision making. 

Pressure Bursts Pipes

The best way to take away time and space is through pressure. 

A great example of this is All-Defensive Team member Patrick Beverely.

"You have to think no one really likes pressure,” he said.  “And that's just not in basketball; that's in everyday life. It's more comfortable when things are just OK. I try to do everything that I don't like to other people, and it's been working out for me."

Pressuring the opposing team is an effective defensive strategy. It also takes determination and focus. Through pressuring the offensive player, you will take away the offensive player’s time and space and make them uncomfortable.

Remember, no one likes pressure. 


In order to maintain defensive focus and pressure, you will need to condition your body to be in the best possible shape. 

Sustaining elite defense means giving multiple efforts on defense possession after possession after possession.

You also need to be a student of the game. Study the tendencies of your opponents. Study the tendencies of great defensive players, and model your defense after them. 

Follow the blueprint for what works.

You also need to visualize yourself on defense. See yourself having success on defense, and mentally prepare yourself for defensive positions you may face in the game. Using guided imagery to visualize an upcoming defensive match-up will give you that mental edge. 

Take your mind to those situations that will occur on the court. Think of how you will respond.

Every time you step on the court, defense must be a focus. 

You have to take it as a personal challenge. 

You have to want to get stops just as badly as you want to score to become a complete player. It is an equally important aspect of the game.