Man to Man Defenses refers to each player on the floor being assigned to or responsible for one player on the opposing team. A Zone Defense refers to guarding an area of the floor.
Man to Man Defenses can put more pressure on each team member to carry out their assignment. With a Zone Defense, you can protect a player who may be a poor defender or is in foul trouble.
It is sometimes easier to pinpoint a defensive mistake with Man to Man. An error in a Zone can be harder to detect.
To play good Man to Man Defense, you must be able to do the following.
For players at the beginner level, Man to Man Defense is the best option because it is the most effective way for players to learn Defensive Fundamentals.
A Zone Defense can be very effective to use, but if you want your players to learn how to defend and the best way for them to increase their skill level on defense Man to Man is the preferred option.
As player because more advanced and have the experience, a Zone Defense can be handy. But a Zone takes a lot of time to teach how to run correctly. There is a lot of communication that has to occur. Players have to have awareness and see the entire floor. Zone defense requires a lot of movement (all the players moving).
So running a Zone Defense is not the best option for beginners because it can be more complicated than a Man Defense.
When I coached in college, I was a big fan of Zone Defense. We could cover a lot of ground, we could take advantage of our athletic, and with a shot, clock teams had to shoot reasonably quickly I felt we could be in a good position to rebound the ball. But this was with experienced players.
If I am coaching younger players, Man to Man Defense is the best route. It forces players to get in a stance, communicate and be aware of the ball. They slip up in one of those areas, and it is easy to see.
CHALLENGES OF MAN TO MAN DEFENSE
Even though Man to Man is a better option than Zone, there are challenges.
Each of these can be overcome by spending time on the right skills and utilizing the right drills.
Coaching knows how to put your players in the best position to be successful. Even with limitations, a player can learn to be a good defender.
As you teach Man to Man, there are three different types you can play:
In Pressure Man to Man you are putting intense pressure on the ballhandler, and taking away all passing lanes. This can cause more turnovers from the offense, but it can to missed assignments and getting too far out of position. Defenders one pass away are on the Passing Line (the line between the Passer and the Intended receiver) with their head in the passing lane. This makes any pass challenging to complete. It can help create offense at times since defenders will get too far extended.
You can pressure the ball and deny passing lanes, but you are not overextending your defense. Defenders here will have a hand in the Passing Line, but not their head. This keeps them on balance and can keep a vision of both the ball and their opponent.
With Soft Man to Man, you are set up not to get beat on drives, and you will not have players getting beat on back cuts.
Defensive Stance- The first thing you need to teach your players to be a good defender is the proper stance. Players need to have a broad base (feet apart) and be on balance. Avoid feet coming together. They can move quicker and more effectively when their feet are apart. The knees are bent, and the back is straight. A reminder for players is to get their head below their opponent’s shoulders. This put them in the position to stay low. Get low by bending the knees and not the back. By bending the knees, it will allow the player to have the right balance. Bending the end does not allow a lower stance. It is creating a situation where the upper body now is leading the position. Everything on defense starts with the feet. When you want your players to put pressure on the basketball tell them to “Pressure the ball with their feet.”
A good man to man defense takes patience to build. You have to first teach your players the right skills through repetition. Then you have to show them how to utilize those skills by being in the correct stance and position. Finally, you put it all together and explain to them how it works as a unit. Because playing Defense is a skill it can be taught. Players can learn how to play it effectively even if they are limited physically. By putting in the time with the correct instruction, you will your Man to Man Defense get better and better as the season rolls along.