Defense is as much mental as physical. Players should be encouraged to be proactive, rather than reactive. Generally, defenders are at a disadvantage. One way to offset this edge is to use the rule that action is usually quicker than reaction. Coaches can emphasize the active elements of defense by the acronym ATTACK.
A-Attitude. The starting point of all defense is the determination to become an aggressive, intelligent defensive player. Players must develop and maintain control of their playing attitude, especially on defense. Coaches cannot coach unless players decide to play hard during each defensive possession. Excellent defense requires that players give maximum physical effort.
T-Teamwork. The collective effort of five defensive players is greater than five individual efforts. The synergy of defensive team chemistry can offset the natural advantage of offensive players; play together to survive and thrive with team defense.
T-Tools of defense. The four basic physical tools are the mind, the body, the feet, and the eyes. The hands can be a help or a hindrance. When the other tools are used first, especially body position, the hands can be a defensive plus.
A-Anticipation. Players must use good basketball sense and judgment (mind) triggered by vision. See the man and guard the ball-the ball is the only thing that scores. Players should see the ball at all times and use their eyes to anticipate. For example, they should see a careless pass instantly and decide to act quickly. Quickness is based on physical readiness and mental anticipation.
C-Concentration. Players should be alert and ready to play defense at all times. They must assess the situation and be able to take away the opponents’ strength. Players must avoid resting, physically or mentally, when playing defense. Communication is an excellent way to aid concentration.
K-Keep in stance. Defensive players must maintain defensive quick stance at all times. They should seldom gamble by making moves that take them out of stance or position, and all players must be constantly ready to take advantage of opponents’ mistakes. Keeping in stance is the most important physical readiness concept for defenders. Coaches need to remind players constantly to get in and stay in stance-be ready for the opponent’s best move. Coaches and players can use this concept as a subjective measure of defense. Great defensive players and teams can stay in a quick stance during the entire defensive possession.
This is an excerpt from Basketball Skills & Drills, Third Edition.