The first thing to learn about defense in the game of basketball is how to guard the ball. The first level (and there are 4) is how to guard the ball. Now, if I mention the word SPACING, most will think that I’m talking about offensive spacing. But instead, we will explore 3 easy ways to communicate DEFENSIVE spacing when you’re guarding the ball.
Let’s start with Conversation Distance. Most people know instinctively the space to take when holding a conversation. It’s the same spacing you take when you shake someone’s hand. It’s hand-shaking distance!
This is close enough to discourage the shot, bother the dribble, and deflect passes. If you can picture a bubble around the ballhandler, from head to toe, then Conversation distance means you stick to the surface of the bubble.
If you have to raise your voice to have a conversation, then you’ve become a HIGH-TALKER. You’re certainly too far away to shake his or her hand, so this means you’re defending from well outside the ball-handler’s bubble.
We’ve all experienced a conversation with a CLOSE-TALKER! You know you’re having one because it’s so uncomfortable. A CLOSE-TALKER defends inside the bubble.
Now, we can communicate with ease. Players know exactly what I mean when I say Close-talk this one and Close-talk that one (both are really good players), High-talk this one (he/she can’t shoot), and Hand-shake those two.
When defense is couched in these terms, even beginners know the space to give their players!