Basketball Defense: Communication

A strong defense does not come down to one player. Teams need to communicate and work together to make a stop.

To have a successful defense in basketball, it takes more than individual success. Every player on the court must work together to achieve the common goal of shutting the opponent down. To make it work, teams must have strong communication.

“A key component to every team defense is precise, clear communication,” college basketball coach Jared Ronai says. “Every position on the floor has a coverage [responsibility], and every player needs to communicate the coverage early, loud and consistent.”


When you’re defending or closing out on the ball handler, you’re now in what is called “ball coverage.”  While closing out, you should get into your defensive stance while yelling “Ball! Ball! Ball!” This allows your team to know that you’re guarding the ball handler.

When the ball is passed to a wing, you should remain one pass away in a “help” position. Your communication term while in this “help” position is “Gap! Gap! Gap!” This lets your team know you’re in a “help” position and covering that gap.

You should repeat these steps as the offensive team passes the ball around the court and your coverage changes. Your teammates will do the same so everyone is aware of team responsibilities while on defense.

“You can automatically become a better defensive player by communicating your defensive coverage at a high level,” Ronai says.

By working on your defensive closeouts in practice, it can help boost your on-ball coverage during the big game.