There’s an old saying in the world of sports: “Defense wins championships.” This adage is evident in all kinds of basketball. A player can score 50 points in a game, but if he or she is the only source of offense for the team, the team will not win many games.

Over my nine-year career, I’ve realized the importance of defense and tried to adopt it into my game.

Fortunately for me, I’ve had the honor of playing with and being coached by the Triangle Thunder’s Kevin Bailey. He and some of the other teammates have taught me the intricacies of defense.

Other teams, however, just yell at their players and say “Push harder! Push faster!”

These teams are the reprobates of wheelchair basketball.

In previous posts, I have mentioned the importance of defense in wheelchair basketball and how positioning is the essential key to stopping the opponent from scoring. However, there are multiple ways to have good defensive positioning on the opposing team.

Below is a YouTube video published by the channel NWBAtv:

In the shadow drill section of the video, the coach states that the defender must always “turn outside” i.e., away from the offensive player. The rest of the defensive drills in the video rely on this principle.

The reason why a defender must turn away from the offensive player is because it allows the defender to get his or her push-rim i.e., the round piece of aluminum that a player uses to push his or her wheelchair, in front of the other player’s push-rim.

If, however, the defender turns in to the offensive player, the opposing player can make a curl or turn, and, in the process, the defender would be out of the play.

As long as the defender has his or her push-rim in front of the offensive player’s push-rim, then the opposing player can’t go anywhere.

Another article written by the website of the BC Wheelchair Basketball Society (BCWBS) states that the ideal angle to for the defender to face the offensive player is at “45 degrees.”

This concept is more of a general rule for any defender. Like I mentioned in earlier posts, facing the offensive opponent with the side of one’s chair is the best way to stop him or her, because it allows the defender to get in front of the other player’s push-rim.

If, however, the defender makes the mistake of facing the offensive player with the front of his or her chair, then the offensive player can move left or right with ease, because there is no wheel or push-rim to stop him or her.

However, depending on the skills and speed of the offensive player, the defender can face the opposing player at a 90-degree angle, but only if it stops the opposing player’s freedom of movement.

Some of you, my good and faithful readers, might be asking me, “What about stealing the ball or blocking someone’s shot? Are they even allowed?”

Yes, they are. Yet, a defender must only block a shot or steal the ball at the most opportune time.

The aforementioned BCWBS article states, “Keep your hands on the wheels until a pass or a shot is taken; steal the ball when they try to pass the ball and get a hand on.” This advice is somewhat true, but there are some exceptions to stealing the ball or blocking a shot.

The only time a player should steal the ball or block a shot is when the player’s hands are quick enough to not only attempt to steal the ball or block a shot, but also have the the ability to put his or her hands back on the wheels immediately.

Another potential exception for a defender to steal the ball or block the shot would be if they stop the offensive player’s wheelchair, thus stripping the player’s freedom of movement.

Otherwise, defenders, generally, should keep their hands on their wheels, because if a defender tries to block a shot or steal the ball and misses, then the offensive player can move by the defender, because nobody can push faster with one hand.

But what if the offensive player is ready to shoot? How does the defender guard against the shooter, before and after the shot?

Darius Kolar (left) guarding Josh Lewis (right).

Here is the exception to the general rules of guarding one’s opponent. Rather than facing Josh at 45-degree angle so that he can put his push-rim in front of him, Darius has his back to Josh.

He does this because Josh has both hands off his wheels and is ready to shoot. Josh can’t move left or right because he does not have the freedom of movement to do so, and because the back of Darius’ chair is in front of Josh’s chair.

Furthermore, because Josh is ready to shoot, and because Darius is the size of a tree, Darius has the green light to block Josh’s shot.

If Josh gets his shot off, Darius has to stop Josh’s chair movement immediately.

Overall, when it comes to defending, it requires positioning, but not the same position every time. Various situations arise in a game of wheelchair basketball where defenders will have to turn their chairs at a different angle and even raise one of their hands up to defend someone.


I hope you understood the nuances of defense. Leave a comment or question below, if you are still confused about some concept of defending.


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