Teaching Shot Blocking To Developing Players

Shot blocking can be a small item down the list of things for many coaches to teach, but teaching it early and correctly can play huge dividends as players mature.


Teaching the little things has always been part of my coaching philosophy.  It’s always the little things that help players get better and teams to play better.  Paying attention to the details of these little things has given me great satisfaction.  I have been able to help hundreds of players and coaches around the world to better understand the importance these things play in being successful in the game.


Attempting to block a shot requires fours things: Timing, focus on the ball, the actual block, and the follow-through.


· Timing

The defender has to have a very good idea of when the shot is about to be released, and not get up into the air until the shooter has left the floor. All the fakes the shooter makes must not get the blocker off the floor prematurely. When the blocker does leave the floor, the body must go straight up, rather than toward the shooter. The blocking arm and hand must go straight up and attempt to contact the ball just as it is leaving the shooter’s fingers, in order to avoid fouling the shooter. At the least, the blocker may alter the shot.  All too often we see a good block be marred by the block follow-through crashing into the shooter from lack of ball focus.


· Ball Focus

Focus on the ball is what enables the blocker to have the timing right. Too often, defenders are watching the offensive player, rather than the ball. If the eyes are focused on the ball, rather than on the player, the adjustment from defender to blocker will be quicker. The eyes should trace the path of the ball as it goes into the shot, and the blocking arm/hand should follow the path of the eyes.  (See Pics. A , B)




· Blocking

The actual block should find the blocker’s hand on the top or basket side of the ball, thus avoiding the shooter’s hand and wrist. Rarely is a shot blocked while still in the shooter’s hand, but if done, the blocker’s hand should be on top of the ball, avoiding contact with any other part of the shooter’s body. Most usually, the contact with the ball is made just as it is leaving the shooter’s hand.  (See Pic.C)



· Follow-Through

The follow-through should be on the ball and not extend to any part of the shooter’s body. So many times we see a blocker trying to make a statement with a hard block. Just block the shot. That’s statement enough. Hit the ball cleanly, stop the score, and hopefully your team will recover the ball.


The three-point attempt may be more difficult to block if the defender is off the shooter when the attempt is made. We find the defender’s body rushing at the shooter is often out of control and crashes into the shooter. We need to practice having the perimeter defenders getting to the shooter quickly, then use the techniques listed above. If the defender is watching the ball and their man, whether in man or zone defense, and reacts quickly to the ball, the shot should not be such a surprise that the defender is caught off the ball.