Developing defensive teamwork requires practicing with intention, building relationships, and strong communication skills. Your team will struggle to develop winning defensive skills if they can’t communicate with one

Developing Strategic Communication

Make sure your team practices purposeful communication. A great strategy is to stress the importance of on-court communication and make sure everyone is on the same page regarding which words and phrases to use with certain actions. The following are great places to start:


Players guarding the ball should use the word “ball” to let the team know that they’re guarding a certain player. Teammates will have an idea of where the ball is on the court while defending opposing players, which may position them to have their backs to the ball itself.


Players should yell “skip” three times every time a skip pass is thrown. This lets defense know that they need to find the ball and properly position themselves.

Call Out Who You’re Guarding

Players should be trained to call out the name of the individual that they’re guarding. That way, each player is accounted for.

Intentional Practice

Remind your players to treat every practice session like a real game. Run drills that encourage players to talk to each other. Practice real game situations, and continue to stress the importance of communication.  If your players are reluctant to talk to each other, overload drills are a great way to solve problem. When they’re overloaded, defensive players are forced to ask for help and communicate verbally.

Develop Chemistry

Developing chemistry between teammates is an underrated method of improving their teamwork skills. Consider implementing some fun activities that don’t directly relate to the game. By encouraging your players to get to know each other better, they’ll be more comfortable trusting and speaking with each other on the court. One activity is to pair everyone up for team interviews. Your players can ask each other questions from a predetermined list, and learn more about the others on their team. The more teammates learn about each other, the more likely they are to understand everyone both on and off the court.

Helping your players develop defensive teamwork is an important process. Encouraging strategic communication, practicing with intention, and developing chemistry are great steps to build defensive teamwork and strong communication skills.