Contest the Face, by Mike Lee

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Rarely will I write about defense on here even though it obviously is important. Here is a simple way for you to become a much more effective on ball defender if you can pay attention to details.

When closing out on a shooter or contesting a shot off the dribble what should you really be focusing on?  Last year during a practice a coach I was with, Jason Jesperson, coined the phrase “contest his face” and I fell in love with it. What does it really mean to contest a shot?  Try having some take their hand and stick it about an inch from your face directly in front of your eyes and see how much more difficult it is to shoot. It drives me absolutely nuts when guys closeout or try to contest a shot by sticking their hand in the shooters abs or waist. That does hardly anything for a guy who can shoot the ball and technically it is really a foul.

Last year Shane Battier held Kobe Bryant to one of his worst shooting performances of the season. That night on ESPN they had clips of Shane Battier doing a picture perfect job of contesting Kobe’s face on his jumpers.  Another player who does a great job of this is Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls.  Yes defense is a lot about effort, but this a simple fundamental skill of a great defender.

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