Things I Don’t Coach Anymore (Stop the Slide)

Let me ask you a question as fellow-coach: How do we think our defense player is going to move as fast sliding sideways, as his approaching dribbling offense player is going to move sprinting toward him?

I have watched 100+ coaches teach players to shuffle side-to-side on defense. That this is somehow going to “close the door” to the basket for a penetrating offense player on the dribble. I confess, for 25-years I repeated this same mantra to my players. But why? Because I assumed every coach had to say it this way. Not a good reason.

This is now the second thing I no longer teach on Defense–to shuffle-step left and right to stop an offense player from penetrating the ball. To be sure, we should teach our defense player to position his legs wide, and square, in front of the offense player, on the hope this deters him from going around us. But after that, then what? Our human bodies are MADE to sprint forward, not to slide to the side.

Two seasons ago I began to de-emphasize shuffling, and to teach instead an inside-full leg step around method to get in front of an offense player who has gotten around us. It is difficult to explain in words, but easier to see demonstrated on the court. After a couple tries, most players get it, though still some want to revert to their old coaching, and slide.

I call it the Step-Around move.

The player on defense, if beaten to the outside, takes a full step with his inside leg in the direction of the offense player. At the same time he swings his hip and upper body around, planting that foot straight behind him in the direction where the offense player is moving, i.e., toward the basket. Then when he takes his next step, and lands it too on the floor behind him, he immediately pivots on that foot toward the offense player. This results in his body being in a solid defense position between the offense player and the basket. It also happens so quick that I have seen a number of offense players take a charge running into our defensive player.

If the offense player goes to our right, we step around with our left leg; if he goes to our left, we step around with our inside leg. Give it a try, see what you think.

P.S. In this photograph I include, you can tell the green defense player is beaten. She tried to slide her right foot over to get in front of the offense player; it did not work. So now the green player is totally beaten, with no ability to recover.

Terry Boesch is a teacher in Martinsville, IN (home of John Wooden), and also coaches girls basketball. Feel free to email him at, or call/text at 317-643-6042

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