In junior forms of the sport of basketball Carrying Hands to Contest the Shot can have a great effect on the performance of offensive players. In the senior levels of the sport carrying hands to contest the shot is a given and one of the “just expected” range of skills players will be predetermined as having. Players not able to demonstrate this most fundamental of skills are demonstrating a number of character flaws that ultimately their team will have to pay.
Carrying hands to contest the shot is about the defensive player using one or both of their hands to interrupt the normal shooting technique of the offensive player. This may include extending the arm to challenge the physical shot, shadow the ball or break the line of vision by the shooter with the basket.
Challenging the physical Shot is about looking at the mechanics of the shooter and finding what line the ball travels in regards to the players shooting action. Many players have a variety or slightly different shooting action, and then there are those shooters who have nothing logical about the way they shoot. In all instances as a player looking to make defence part of your game studying how your offensive matchup shoots is invaluable in carrying your hands to contest the shot. Armed with the insight about the players shooting action then disrupting the line of the ball becomes easier and easier to achieve without fouling.
Shadowing the Ball is another technique for carrying hands to contest the shot. In this situation the defensive player would not look to be as close as in challenging the physical shot. Shadowing might be the technique of choice if the offensive player has a strong drive the basket or quicker foot speed, so the defensive player must give some additional space to help contain this offensive option. The focus in shadowing is the same as in challenging, but simply not as close to the offensive player. This technique will not result in steals or blocked shots, but rather the main focus is on having the shooter always having to perform their shot under pressure and no open looks at the basket.
Breaking the Line of Vision for the offensive player is a simple yet effective strategy for taking away the offensive players ability to gauge distance and maintain constant vision of the basket. Carrying hands to contest the shot in this scenario is not focused on the line of the ball or shadowing the ball, but rather keeping the player from maintaining their vision of the hoop. This is done by moving a hand to break the direct line of sight by the offensive player. The defensive player’s hand does not move towards the ball the line from the eyes to the basket of the offensive player. The hand is not directly in the face of the offensive player but should break the line of sight between the player the basket.
This technique is the most difficult of all to perform, as it must be performed with skill and good judgement so not to contact the offensive players face and of course as a result draw a foul. To highlight this point the offensive player should be in no danger of ever being hit in the face or any other illegal contact. A common mistake when performing this technique is defensive players seeing the offensive player is about to shoot move into the players cylinder during the contest. This results in the shooter sometimes being tunnelled or landing on the defensive player as they move underneath the shooter while they are in the air. Neither the contact with the player or invading their cylinder (including body contact) is acceptable. Breaking the line of vision is about a skilful demonstration of defensive finesse and timing, anything less is just thuggery.
When choosing what strategy to go with keep in mind that players need to have practiced this type of technique in order the put it into place in the pace of a game effectively. It is suggested to practice the first two options (Challenge and Shadow) with your teams. Saving the technique of challenging the line of sight of the offensive player for senior or elite teams.
As with all very specific skills, these technical skills need to be practiced. Every shooting drill you do with your teams is an opportunity to practice these techniques. Keep in mind to always look to what would work best against the offensive player as your starting point. Then during a game you can always change the strategy to reflect what is need to reduce the efficiency of a shooter.