Horizontal Defense – Switching

With horizontal offense becoming more common among intermediate level teams, it is very important that all teams develop a good defensive strategy against it.  Even if your team does not use horizontal offense, you should adopt strategies to defend against it.  It’s actually not that hard to defend against, in fact it can be easier, but it does require good communication.

This flash play will illustrate how a switching defense can stifle a standard horizontal play by covering in and out cuts with quick switching.  Because of the standard paired up formation of lane cutters, the two defenders can easily cover zones on their respective side.  This means that if one lane cutter cuts deep, a designated defensive player can take either deep cut regardless of which player it is.  Once the lane cutter gives up and cuts in, the defensive player must release their defense and allow their teammate to cover the in cut.  You can see where communication is key, if you do not switch your position at the right time or at all, you will provide the offense with a good opportunity to score.

As the illutration above shows, it’s not that difficult to defend against an horizontal offense.  If two defenders on one side sandwich the players such that both deep and in cuts are taken, the offense must work much harder to get open and will likely squeeze a throw through.  This highlights a disadvantage of horizontal offense, it’s very easy for defenders to poach.  The last part of the play illustrates what defenders must do if both lane cutters cut deep.  In this case the defender that covers the in cut should follow so that the deep defender isn’t overloaded.  On paper this is an easy defense, in practice you need to talk a lot and communicate effectively.

Key Points:

  1. Be vocal about who is taking the in and out cuts.
  2. Use common sense and don’t get stuck in your designated position.  If the offense is overloading deep, cover them as you would normally.
  3. Do not get carried away with poaching in the lanes, you are still covering a player.
  4. Players on the side line should be vocal to help out their teammates.
  1. 2 Responses to “Horizontal Defense – Switching”

  2. But no longer always can poach the same defense?

    By Sebastián on Nov 24, 2010

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  2. May 11, 2009: Ultimatehandbook » Blog Archive » Defense - Vertical Switching

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