Nov 30, 2015
Kobe Bryant’s 3 tips for defensive slides

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is known for his five NBA championship rings and, more specifically, his amazing scoring ability.

But did you know Bryant has been on the NBA’s All-Defensive team 12 times throughout his career?

Defense is one of Bryant’s many strengths, so it pays to listen to him give tips on guarding your opponent. At the 2010 World Basketball Festival in New York, Bryant grabbed the microphone during a clinic at Rucker Park and educated about 40 young players on properly executing defensive slides.

Here are three tips he wants your basketball players to remember.

1. Stay balanced.

When watching young players perform defensive slides, Bryant noticed several of them leaning their torsos in the direction they were moving.

“When you’re doing defensive slides and start leaning,” Bryant says, “now when your man changes direction, it takes too much time for you (to change direction) and slide.”

If you keep your torso centered while you’re moving your feet, you’re ready to shift either direction your opponent might take you.

“Everybody needs to think about staying in the middle,” Bryant says. “Your top part shouldn’t be moving.”

2. Active hands.

Bryant told the story of playing summer basketball in the Philadelphia area. He would often get top defenders guarding him, yet some of them would do defensive slides with their arms still and below their waists.

“They thought it looked cool,” Bryant says. “It wasn’t cool when I was shooting the ball in their faces.”

Bryant is a lockdown defender in part because he never lets his opponent get comfortable. One of the best ways to do that is to keep good lower-body form when sliding, but also make sure your hands are a nuisance to the ball handler.

“You have to keep your hands active, all the time,” Bryant says. “Up, down, side to side, jabbing at the ball.”

3. Wide base.

Many young players, when doing defensive slides, don’t have their feet wide enough apart, so they don’t get as low as they should, Bryant says.

“If you keep your feet further apart, you have a wider base so your man can’t change direction. I keep my wide base, and if you change direction, I’m still with you.”

Widening your base when doing defensive slides might be a little uncomfortable at first, but it is the best way to play lockdown defense.

Just ask Kobe Bryant — one of the best in the world at it.

“Keep your feet really wide apart, Bryant reiterates, even as you stride.”

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