7 Cardinal Defensive Principles

By Adam Barnes

Argentina Defense

Looking to increase your defensive efficiency this season? Try adding these defensive principles from the legend, Adolph Rupp.

  1. Cut Down the Number of Shots
    • “Teams must shoot to score, and if you can reduce their scoring opportunities by aggressive defensive play, you will eliminate the danger of a high score.”
  2. Cut Down the Percentage of Shots
    • “If you can force a team to take hurried, off-balance, inaccurate shots, you’ll destroy their shooting percentage. That is the difference between aggressive defense and a defense that permits a team to get good shots.”
  3. Cut Down Everything Under 18 Feet
    • “If you’ll draw a circle 18 feet around the basket and attempt to cut down everything in that area, getting all the rebounds, you’ll have a foolproof defense.”
  4. Cut Down the Second Shots
    • “A good, tough rebounding team won’t permit additional shots after the initial attempt has been taken.”
  5. Cut Down the Cheap Baskets
    • “In a game of equal ability, a cheap basket at a critical time often proves to be the deciding factor.”
  6. “Point” the Ball on All Long Shots
    • “Two cardinal principles are to cut down on the number of shots and the good shots. If you allow good shooters to get set without pressure, they will ruin you. Therefore, the man with the ball should always be pointed.”
  7. Prevent the Ball from Going to the Pivot
    • “I believe that most teams feel exactly as we do – that the ball should never be allowed to go into the pivot man. If you let the opponents do this, they can set their screens without worrying about ball handling. We permit the ball to go to the side of the floor, but always try to prevent it from going to the pivot man.”


Coach Adam Barnes, the Director of the Coach Barnes Basketball Academy and a USA Basketball Certified Coach, is a nationally recognized Player Development Specialist based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Player Development Specialist (High School, College, & NBA) & Recruiting Analyst/National Camp Director
August 15, 2016 – Rio De Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – RJ – OLYMPICS / BASKETBALL – SPORTS – Player Spain Calderon dispute with ball Garino . during the match between Spain Vs Argentina in men’s basketball valid for the qualifying round of Group B in Arena Carioca 1, Rio de Janeiro (RJ) the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro 2016 on Monday (Credit Image: � Geraldo Bubniak via ZUMA Wire)

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