One of the NBA’s supreme defenders, Andre Iguodala takes you through the basics of defensive zig-zags. Defensive zig-zags are at the heart of any good on-the-ball defender and is a technique you must master to reach a higher level of basketball.
When defending the offensive player your goal is to stay in front of him/her and guide them towards their weak hand sideline, or wherever your coach may have instructed you to.
Key teaching points on defensive zig-zag rotations:
- Keep your knees bent at all times, but stay upright (if you lean forward, you’ll lose your balance as you start to move at speed and change direction)
- Be light on your feet
- Point the toe of your lead foot in the direction you’re sliding and move in a step-slide-step-slide motion, making sure you don’t bounce along as you slide. The slide should very slightly/lightly skim across the floor, not be a clumsy dragging of your support foot. Imagine your slide foot is on ice.
- You should aim to always have one of your feet in contact with the floor so you are able to change direction quickly (if you bounce, with both feet in the air as you move, you’ll be easy to drive past by a quick offensive player and could possibly fall when trying to recover from a quick crossover dribble)
- As you drop your support foot to change direction, execute a partial reverse pivot as you open your body up to move in another direction to stay with the offensive player
As you perfect your zig-zag technique, you should aim to ‘turn’ the offensive player by beating him/her to the spot they are trying to get to and blocking their path with your body. If you’re quick and have good footwork, you may be able to draw many charges using this technique and be a player nobody wants to be guarded by.
Many players overlook practising zig-zag technique, assuming it will happen naturally. If you want to become an elite on-the-ball defender, spend time on perfecting your defensive zig-zag footwork so excellent technique becomes second nature to you.