You can perform defensive slides until the cows come home, but you will NEVER see any improvement. Watch a live game of basketball and see how often a defender slides his feet. Defenders are constantly crossing their feet to change directions. Sliding is too slow. You must cross your feet to get into your sprint. If you are guarding someone faster than you, please do not slide or he will give you buckets all night long.
Being a great defender is based on 3 things: Lower Body Strength, Anticipation, and Cost-Benefit Analysis (I’ll explain later).
Lower Body Strength: Strengthen your legs individually, do single leg weight training. Defense does not require you to push off both feet at the same time. BUT, strength without coordination is dead, as the writer of the Book of James tells us. You need to work on plyometric exercises as well as isometric. Google it or get with a trainer (I know a guy). These exercises will build a strong relationship between your brain and lower extremities. However, do not forget balance. Without improving your balance, you will lose force when you change directions causing you to react slowly. Defense is unpredictable. You cannot know what movement you will be expected to make in those crucial split-second changes of direction. That is why you need general strength.
Anticipation: Look for patterns in your opponent and then predetermine what you will do. I once guarded a great scorer who did a right-hand hesitation dribble two possessions in a row. So, the next time he had it in his right hand, I anticipated the hesitation and gambled for it. The result was a steal and easy layup. Once you discover a pattern in your opponent use it to your advantage and go after it.
Cost-Benefit Analysis: Don’t let the term intimidate you. It simply means you need to give up something in order to take away something more important. By taking away your opponent’s strength you will be more vulnerable to something else, but that’s okay. Your goal is to take away strengths. If he’s great driving to his right hand, force him left. If he’s a better driver than a shooter, scoot back and give him space. Give up something to take away what’s important.
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