Attacking your Defender by Kellon Thomas

An important attribute of a good offensive player, is being able to score within the offensive scheme the coach has put into play. Finding different ways to attack your defender can allow for gaps in the defense to open up for the ball handler or other teammates to score easily. Another important factor about attacking a defender within the offense, is doing it in a reasonable amount of dribbles. Using jab steps, shot fakes and straight-line drives allows the ball handler to get to spots on the floor quickly, using a limited number of dribbles.
Different ways to beat your defender:
  • Change of speed
  • Change of direction
  • Offensive player getting their shoulder past the defender’s hip
  • Using the body to protect the ball
Change of speed and direction is very important in keeping the defensive player honest. Playing at different speeds gives the ball handler an advantage because they have ultimate control on where they want to go. Changing direction quickly forces the defense to react, instead of attacking the ball handler. The combination of changing speed and direction is a great and efficient way to score or create scoring opportunities for others.
Body control is another useful tool in basketball that often goes overlooked. By creating contact, it forces the defense to react to an offensive move, and it creates space for the offensive player to attack. An effective way to attack your defender using your body, is attacking the defender’s hip or outside leg with the inside shoulder of the offensive player. This creates a straight-line drive opportunity. With the offensive player’s body staying between the defender and the ball, makes it very difficult for the defender to reach and steal the ball away.
As a ball handler, you want to do at least one of the following while dribbling:
  •  Get to the lane to score or pass
  •  Draw in multiple defenders to pass to an open teammate
  •  Create separation from you and your defender
  •  Get to a spot on the court where you can be effective in the offense
Finding ways to attack your defender will free up space to be able to score or allow a teammate to score. A good defender will try their best to keep the ball handler out of the paint, because it causes other defenders to help and leave other offensive players open. Using quick moves, changing pace of play and direction causes separation from the offensive player and defender. Separation allows for the ball handler to see the court to find teammates, attack the basket or score in open space.
A good ball handler is not always someone who uses multiple dribble moves, but uses efficient attack moves to create scoring opportunities for himself/herself and teammates. A good offensive player understands what it takes to correctly attack the defense.
  •  Good Footwork
  •  Selling a move with their eyes, feet and body
  •  Being able to finish in a variety of ways
  •  Expecting and creating contact
Taking the correct steps at or toward your defender will get them off balance. This allows for room to score or pass while they are out of their defensive stance. Another good facet of a good offensive player has, is being able to sell their move with their eyes, feet and body. This will keep the defense wondering what the offensive player wants to do, giving the offensive player that extra time they need to get past their defender or draw in another defender to pass to the open player.
Being able to avoid shot blockers is a skill that takes practice and concentration. Scoring around the rim in a variety of ways is important when going against high level defenders. Rather it be a simple layup, reverse layup, floater or even quick jumpshot keeps the defense wondering of what the offensive player wants to do. In addition to scoring in a variety of ways, expecting and creating contact is a good way to keep the defense off balance. Creating contact while driving to the basket to score keeps the defense from being able to contest the shot how they want.
Being able to attack your defender in multiple ways gives the advantage to the offensive player and is important when trying to find different ways to affect the game against a good defender. Small details go a long way in the game of basketball. It could be one false step or an unneeded dribble that gives the defense the upper hand from allowing you to score.
-Kellon Thomas
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