Why do so many basketball players at all levels defend shooters improperly?

After having been involved with basketball one way or another as a player, coach, official, radio/TV color commentator, fan, and currently a basketball writer for the BDN since 1944 which is 74 years it continues to amaze me that many players at all levels from middle school thru to the NBA do not defend the player they are guarding when they are shooting facing the basket with the correct hand and arm.

After watching another NBA game today I continually saw defenders use the wrong hand and arm when the player they were guarding shoots the ball while facing the basket. If the shooter is right handed then the defender should use his left hand and arm to defend the shot not their right arm and hand. By doing this they cut down their reach of about 6 inches or so which gives the shooter a better look at the basket and the lesser chance that he is bothered by the right hand.

I always taught my players that you always keep your left arm and hand up guarding the player with the ball who is right handed and vice versa when guarding a left handed shooter.

Also, they were told not to leave their feet until the player they are guarding with the ball leaves his feet to shoot the ball and not to try to block the shot until the ball leaves the shooters hand as this reduces the chance of fouling the shooter. Still saw these 2 things in the NBA playoff games

Even watching the best players in the world in the NBA continue to violate these three very simple fundamental rules that any basketball player at any level can do the only reason for this is that I can think of is, they have never been told or coached to do these three fundamental things which takes no athletic skill.

Keeping the correct hand up blocks the vision of the shooter and does not give him as good a look as he releases the ball for the shot and makes it easier to not block the ball until it leaves the shooter’s hand and by not leaving their feet until the shooter leaves his feet lowers the chances of fouling the shooter on the shot or being in the air when the defender has left his feet and the shooter has not left his which allows the shooter to shoot the ball with no defender as the defender is in the air and the shooter has not left his feet and if the shooter decides not to shoot the defender cannot defend the shooter if he decides to dribble to the basket.

Here’s a tip to prove that having the left hand up on the shot of a right handed shooter is important. Take your left hand and pretend you are guarding a player with the ball and keep it up in the air and then bring your right arm and hand across to do the same thing and you will find there is about at least a 6″ difference in the height of the top of the fingers on the left hand then the right because the left arm and hand are straight up while the right hand has to cross in front his body to get to the same position as the left hand reducing the height of the top of the fingers of the right hand.

The players who do this have never been coached not to do these 3 things correctly. It makes so much sense you’d think coaches at all levels would insist on their players doing them or maybe the coaches don’t know the value of these 3 simple effective things themselves, even the high priced paid coaches at the D-1 college and the NBA levels.

Next time you watch a NBA game watch for these 3 poor defensive techniques. 1. right hand up on right hand shooter 2. Defender leaving his feet before the player he is guarding with the ball leaves his feet 3. blocking ball before the ball leaves the shooter’s hand.