Learn to play defense
Defense is NOT simply reactionary. To play great D, you have to start before you get in the gym. Playing great defense starts before you step in the gym. You must embed the proper defensive stance, positioning, footwork and defensive IQ in your game so it’s always automatic. Study your opponent before AND during the game so you learn their tendencies, how they move, what they like and don’t like to do, strengths and weaknesses. You need to understand your position on the court, your opponents’ body language, angles. You need to know how your teammates defend; you must understand their tendencies, along with your team’s defensive game plan. Becoming a better defender is a never-ending process. I have never met a defender who holds every single player he guards to 0 points every time.
Posture, Stance, Footwork
Your footwork and defensive stance is key to everything you do defensively. A defender needs to be in a stance that lets them to quickly react to the offensive player’s movement.
Posture and stance
Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width: If the feet are too close together it very difficult to react while keeping your balance. But you also don’t want to have your feet so wide that it makes it hard for you to move quick in one direction or the other. A stance with the feet slightly wider than shoulder width is best.
Ready to react: Bend the knees to get into a squatting position (about 2/3 of a full parallel squat). The back should be kept straight as possible and the defender should be off the heels so resting on the midfoot and balls of the feet. Stay low and stay balanced.
Arms up and out: The arms should be bent at the elbow and slightly in front of you at chest height OR you could have them wide at your sides around waist level. Your arms aren’t just used as a deterrent to prevent the offensive player from going by you…They are also your feelers; you use them to feel for ball screens, maintain your balance, and more. Against great shooters you want to have your hands high ready to contest a shot. When playing against a great ball handler who isn’t a good shooter, it is better to stay low, keep your arms low, and challenge their dribble moves a little.