Rick Torbett’s: Basketball’s guidelines for 5 individual player defensive rankings to determine playing time!

Here are Rick Torbett’s 5 defensive ability rankings of 0-1-2-3-4 that determine the playing time for players in my current “Off the rim” Column of Tuesday, November 14th.

It’s entitled “This system could stop parental influence of firing high school coaches” .It explains how to determining playing time for players and their parents” and the description of what it takes to be in each of the 5 levels.

LEVEL 0 DEFENDER: This is where everyone starts. Think of a white belt in martial arts. If a player cannot do the two things below there’s probably no place for them on the team.
Every successful defensive possession ends with either a steal. violation, turnover or a REBOUND. If a player cannot block out and rebound the what good are the rest of the levels. To graduate to from Level 0 the player must be able to.

1. Move like an athlete (think of defensive slides, close outs, switch-hips-and run, etc.

2. Block out, rebound, outlet, and run.


Can you guard the ball? This means you must be able to keep your man from driving into the lane, shooting in the lane, passing into the lane, but mainly, keep them from driving into the lane.


Can you guard away from the ball? This means you must be in position to hekp a teammate stop a player from driving and shooting in the lane. If a teammate gets beat, a LEVEL 2 DEFENDER will in position to stop the ball from being shot or driven further into the middle one-third of the floor.


Can You GUARD situations? What’s a Situation? Anyhing that requires something more than Level 1 and Level 2 can provide is a situation. The coach determines how the team will switch, rotate, hedge, double team, etc. And the coach will determine how many Situations the team must know. The Level 3 defender must know, articulate and execute ALL Situations.
(Think about zone presses, traps, double-teaming the ball when it’s in the post, ball-screens, etc.)


Do you know what everyone on the team should do to get everyone back to positions where there are no mismatches and/or no one id left open after defending/executing a Level 3 Situations? This is the Black Belt Defender – the coach on the floor – who does whatever it takes to keep his/her defensive unit from being beaten.

Without a lot of thought, most coaches can rank all of their players. I bet you can rank players from teams you have had in the past. Not only did it determine playing time, it also determined who you trapped with, who you placed in decision -making positions. In your presses and traps, and who you wanted to finish the game with.

There are rankings within each Level. Are you a GREAT, GOOD, or just OK level defender?

These defensive rankings can be found in a video course called “Dynamic Defenses” at betterbasketball.com

If some coaches want to do their own descriptions for each level then that would also accomplish the same thing. The key to this is to be fair and consistent in ranking each player’s level.

Remember the best defenders who become the staters are at the offensive position that they play not just the best defenders overall on the team. Best defender at point guard. off guard, forwards and centers.