Defense – Vertical Switching

Following the last post on Horizontal Defense Switching, this post illustrates another important defensive strategy, Vertical Defensive Switching.   The setup of vertical switching is more or less the same as playing standard 1-on-1 defense.  It can vary a bit with the defensive players covering the front and end of stack poaching in the lane.

The focus of this defense is to clog the open lane and trust that your mark can hold the break. If the force is broken, like any defensive strategy, this strategy can break down quite easily.  If your marker can retain the force and keep the passes to the open side, the defensive markers can sandwich the lane cutters.  In the illustration below, Player 3 and Player 7 must pick players coming into their zones.   Player 7 first covers a deep cut, follows the player in but release once the offensive player has cut in.  At this point, Player 3 must take the in cut and cover the short throw.   Once the player leaves their zone they must go back into the stack to defend.

Defensive switching can be difficult to execute because there is a lot of improvisation needed if the offense catches on.  For example, in the illustration if Offensive player 7 had kept cutting in for a dump cut, it’s up to the Defensive player 3 to follow in or let the dump go.  If Player 3 defends the in cut then Defensive 4 player must assume the position of the front poach. The key strategy to defensive switching is communication as every player needs to fill in the gaps where needed.

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 “Defense – Vertical Switching”

  2. we tryed this “switching defence” at our indoor tournament without any practise before. We failed.(But we had 2-4 beginners on the line)
    But I think it’s a perfect defence for beginner teams cause it’s quite easy to play. You just need a bit practise.

    By cay on Jan 7, 2010

  3. Realistically, Defender 4 should poach into the open lane, because when Defender 3 poaches, the front of the stack is left undefended and an easy throw leading to more easy break looks becomes just one simple pass away.

    By Tyler on May 3, 2010

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