Players: Here’s the situation: Season has begun and you find yourself wanting to bring something to your team that can immediately affect the outcome of the game. But you don’t time to acquire a new skill like shooting, or point-guard-dribbling-abilities, or ten more pounds of muscle. (Those kind of things take time – usually off-season time.)
So, what can you bring RIGHT NOW that does not take time, training, and repetition to acquire?! What can you bring to today’s practice or today’s game simply by making a focused effort to actually “bring it”?
You can begin to talk on defense. Today. Right now. This game. This practice. The teams at the top of the food chain are always good communicators, so this is a characteristic that you want your entire team to acquire. The good news is it’s addictive! It’s like a virus. It just needs one player to get it started. It needs one player to send the message that it’s not only OK to talk on defense, but it’s “cool” to talk on defense. You can be that player; that innovator, the one who gets the ball rolling.
“But what do I say?”
Many good players simply say what they’re doing:
“I’ve got the ball!”
“I’m guarding number 21!”
That’s a good start, but let’s go an extra step. In Skills Without Drills – Part 2, I told you that the essence of ANTICIPATING on defense is simply thinking like the offense: “What would I do next if I were the ballhandler? What would I do next if I were on the weakside without the ball (like my assignment is now)? What would I do from this position on the floor? Why is my player posting up?” It’s a “NEXT” mentality!
THAT’S what you communicate! Start speaking your anticipations out loud:
“He/she is going to drive right!”
“The ball’s coming inside – deny, deny!”
“Here comes a screen, get ready!”
“They’re clearing out for you! I’m helping! I’ve got your left! I’ve got your left!”
It doesn’t even matter if you’re correct or not! Just anticipating your opponent’s actions and verbalizing them is very disconcerting for the offense! What if you had another teammate talking their anticipations out loud? What about 3, 4, or all 5 of your teammates? One of your teammates are going to be right!
And here’s a sweet side benefit to this “Verbal-Anticipation-Communication”: Your DEFENSIVE INTENSITY will skyrocket! You can take that to the bank!