’40-And-Under Club’ motivates defenses By Richard Ebel, formerly of Paola High School Kansas

Philosophy and technique are important components in a great defense. A coach must work tirelessly to ensure that his or her team utilizes the basic defensive fundamentals.

A critical factor however that must not be overlooked while preparing your team to play great defense is motivation. Getting players motivated to play hard-nosed defense is not an easy task. Sometimes a gimmick is needed.

’40-And-Under Club’

A gimmick that has worked well for our teams is something we call the “40-And-Under Club.” In this defensive concept our team establishes an overall goal of holding our opponent to 40 points or less per game (10 points or less per quarter). Each time we succeed that team is put into our 40-and-under “victims” club.

The concept is simple enough but it can be enhanced through some clever approaches. We’ve added the following extra creative enhancements to get our team to buy into the “40-And-Under Club” concept.

  • Have the slogan “40 Defense Wins!” sewn on to the back of our players’ practice jerseys.
  • Place a poster in our locker room that lists all the opponents who belong to the “40-And-Under Club.”
  • List all the opposing teams who have been put into the club over the years into our season booklet.
  • Our players are normally required to wear team practice jerseys and shorts to practices. However the day after we hold an opponent to 40 points or under our players are allowed to wear whatever they want to practice. This sounds simple but our players absolutely love it!
  • The day after we hold an opponent to 40 points or less we’ll start off practice by playing the song “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen while our players do their defensive slides.

Added bonuses

Another by-product of the “40-And-Under Club” is the fact that players become more concerned with their defensive play than with how many points they’ve scored. Near the end of games you’ll often see players talking about how close they are to holding a team to 40 and encouraging each other to play tough “D” in order to add another member to the club. Such unselfish play leads to great team defense.

Proven results

At the two schools in which we’ve implemented the “40-And-Under Club” concept the results have been outstanding. Spanning 15 years our teams held 108 opponents to 40 points or less and we’ve won 94 of those games — an .870 winning percentage.





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