The Forgotten Art of Shot Blocking: Technique Breakdown
Shot Blocking is one of the most intimidating skills offensive teams face from help defence. In many instances, shot blocking is highly desirable as skill that can add another layer to a team’s defensive capabilities. Shot blocking however is not for every player and like being able to create and take a charge, shot blocking requires a higher degree of technique specific knowledge and experience.
Talker players generally have an advantage in the role of a shot blocker as they can use their height advantage to increase reach. Additionally for effective shot blocking does require a player to be able to jump to gain additional height for ease of meeting the ball at the point of release from the shooting hand. There are of course a number of variables to the combination of these attributes. Some sorter players will still be a good shot blocker if they have a higher jumping ability.
The following teaching points are critical to the shot blocking technique:
Footwork; the shot blocker should focus of being on the balls of their feet to help with mobility. The footwork should be square to the offensive player. Defensive players are advised not to have one foot in front of the other in a high/low stance, as this will hinder mobility and power generation during the jump.
Legs; the lower body needs to be kept in a squatting defensive stance to help generate the explosive power needed to elevate quickly. When a player is looking to move into a shot blocking position they need to remember that any wider stance then their feet shoulder width apart will hinder when try to generate height from their jump.
Body Position; the shot blocker should try to keep their chest facing towards the shooter as long as possible. This allows the shot blocker to use either hand to block the shot. When the shot blocker finally leaves the ground, this is when the player can rotate their body to help elevate the shot blocking shoulder higher for increased height.
Head; the most important aspect for any shot blocking opportunity is vision by the shot blocker. Vision will allow the shot blocker the vital information needed to determine timing as well as ultimately if there is a shot blocking opportunity is on offer or not.
Hand Positioning; the hands of the shot blocker should be kept at least at should height at all time in help defence. As the offensive player moves within an arm length and a half the hands should be raised further to be at above head height. This will allow for quicker anticipation for shot blocking and in some cases allow the defensive player to not even jump because of their good hand positioning for early contact with the ball.
Fake; to help with applying pressure to the offensive player, as the shot blocker comes within an arm length of the shooter they should quickly fake their jump to block the shot. This is done with the arms only and just requires the player to quickly extend their arms up and back down. In some cases, this will be enough to deter the offensive player from shooting. By doing the action, the shot blocker can spoil the rhythm of the shooter as well as put the offensive player in two minds about when the jump will happen. At all times the shot blocker should maintain their squatting defensive stance.
Ball; when shot blocking the defensive player should try to make contact with the ball just after it has been released from the offensive players shot. The shot-blocking arm should be extended fully to help with height. Making contact just after the release reduces the risk of a foul and possible contact initiated by the shot blocker.
Timing; the jump of the shot blocker should be after that of the shooter. This will ensure the player is never caught in the air off a shot fake. The jump can be later as the defensive player will be able to reach further then the shooter.
Body Contact; this should be avoided as much as possible especially when both players are in the air. To help avoid this problem the defensive player should practice jumping straight up when committing to the shot block. At its most simplest, the shot blocker should avoid initiating contact with the offensive player. This will often result a cheap defensive foul.
Shot blocking is a skill (like all others) that requires practice. Most teams however, never practice shot blocking and so it is a skill that goes under-developed and utilised. If this were an element, a coach would like to add into their defensive scheme then opportunities for practice need to be provided. Once established within your teams technical skills set your defence will see an immediate improvement in the keyway, which of course is the most prized ground in basketball.