In nearly every second of a basketball game, you’re either trying to score points or defending your area. Since defensive techniques are just as important as offensive moves, shot-blocking is one of the most important attributes of a basketballer. Shot-blocking is a defensive technique legally used by players to prevent an offensive player from scoring.
Not many attempts to block shots are successful, but when they are, the feeling is exhilarating for both the defender and the audience. Check out this video to get an idea:
In basketball history, several legendary players have taken the role of the “shot-blocker” for their teams. However, one of the most significant shot-blocker in NBA history is Hakeem Olajuwon. He was considered a “beast” in the NBA thanks to his ability to knock down shots from any area on the court, and he had two Defensive Player of the Year awards (1993 and 1994) to show for it.
The benefits of having a good shot-blocker in a team are numerous. Shot-blocking is vital in games because of the following reasons:
- It prevents the offensive team from scoring points.
- Partially destabilizes the opponent’s gameplay.
- Allows the defending team to win the ball.
- It stops near shots to the basket.
- Creates room for a quick counter-attack
Step-By-Step Guide to Shot-Blocking – Jump Shot, Fadeaway, and Slam Dunk
Basketball is a game where both teams tend to score a lot of points, but it usually ends with a score difference of only a few points. For this reason, mastering shot-blocking could help you win more games.
Most times, a player on the offense standing in or outside the three-point arc will attempt to score with any one of three shots:
- Jump shot (in or out)
- Fadeaway (in or out)
- Slam dunk (in)
Let’s see a step-by-step guide to shot-blocking – for the different forms of basketball shots.
1. Jump Shot
This is the most common basketball scoring technique, making it a top priority to defend against. When it boils down to blocking jump shots, precision and timing are everything. The blocking style for the scoring technique requires that the guard jumps vertically higher than the shooter.
To accomplish this, practice quick ways to jump high and master adjusting your center. In a bid to score, your opponent will likely fake a shooting attempt; and this makes your experience and timing important.
The best way to become better at stopping a jump shot is watching the ball closely while stealing a second or two to monitor the movement of their feet. In time, you’ll understand what to expect when you notice a certain pattern.
Fadeaway blocking can be challenging and tricky. And the exact cause for this is because the shooter will jump backward before shooting the ball at the hoop. At this point, stopping it is almost impossible; only expertise can stop them from netting.
The way to block a fadeaway shot is by jumping straight up with your hands extended towards the ball. Never flail or swing your arms in the bid to block a fadeaway shot; you might cause a foul. Furthermore, your opponent will be unable to charge past you when he decides to fake a shot.
3. Slam Dunk
Most people will tell you that blocking a slam dunk is risky. They wouldn’t be wrong because getting a perfect block when the opponent is sailing through the air is unlikely. Also, an unsuccessful shot-block attempt will likely lead to a foul.
So, to block a slam dunk, jump straight up and knock the ball away from the opponent’s hands. Don’t try a forward charge – it never works. If you don’t think you can reach the ball, jump vertically but don’t flail your arms. This allows you to impose yourself in their path, thereby disrupting your opponent. If you’re lucky, they’ll try something fancy to avoid you and fail.
Do your best to avoid direct contact with the shooter when trying to block a slam dunk. These dunks are mostly “sure shots.” And as such, any slight rough or unprofessional tackle gets fouled.
Below are a few shot-blocking tips to put in action during a game. Following them will greatly increase your chances of making successful blocks.
- Avoid physical contact with the offensive player.
- Stabilize your feet properly.
- Know when to jump – timing is everything.
- Practice your high jumping prowess.
- Only use the closest hand to the ball to block.
- Fake a block once in a while – do this, raising only your back heel off the ground.
- Expect a foul – you might not always get it right. So, keep a foul in mind.
Who is the Ideal Shot-Blocker
Generally, being or becoming the ideal man for shot-blocking requires that you possess specific attributes. And some of such characteristics involve you being physically and mentally sound to tackle an opponent.
According to some expert shot-blockers, the ideal man for the job can stand head-on with an opponent without fear. Nevertheless, as a shot-blocker, you shouldn’t place yourself in harm’s way or in areas where you will likely cause a shooting foul.
Let’s find out the most vital attributes of an excellent shot-blocker.
Primarily, you would need confidence to stand face-to-face with a charging offensive player. According to Whiteside, the number one factor to blocking shots is to try staying in front of the ball. Regardless of the size of who is charging, you must have confidence in your stance and skills to stop the player.
2. High Jumping Prowess
You will never find a weak jumper as a shot-blocker in any team – that’s if there is any in a professional basketball. The ideal shot-blocker is a jumper that can perfectly time a lift-off from the ground. In some basketball levels, all that’s expected of a shot-blocker is a higher jump than the charging opponent to stop a score.
3. Fast-Thinking and Observation
If you watch the best shot-blockers closely, you will notice that these players observe a charging opponent closely and try to anticipate their moves. You must be a fast thinker in moments of shot-blocking; this allows you to spot a fake shot or a maneuver move by your opponent.
Shot-blockers don’t have to be the fastest players on the court; nevertheless, they must move at a rapid rate. This is because being fast allows these blockers to make quick moves towards the ball to prevent it from entering the net. The speed covers their jumping, thinking, movements, and response time.
Drills to Make You Better at Shot-Blocking
Professional shot-blockers work on certain drills to help them grow their skills. Here are a few of them to help you hone your shot-blocking ability.
1. Tip Drills
This drill practice works your right and left hands because you will dribble with each and jump during intervals. Switch hands after every ten tips or after 30 seconds of tipping.
2. Tip and Touch
This drill is a lot like the first. However, you would touch the rim with your free hand when you jump.
3. Two Blocks
It involves two offensive players lining up outside the lane with their other inside foot on the block. The defensive player will set themselves in the middle of the lane in between the two offensive opponents. Each of the offensive players will take turns s trying to score (going directly for the basket). The defensive player tries to block each shot but is only allowed to take one step.
Rules to Remember When You Block Shots
While shot-blocking is essential in professional basketball, it is almost too easy to cause a shooting foul in the process. A defensive player trying to block shots must follow the outlined rules of the game.
The rules include:
1. Body Position
When attempting a blocked shot, defensive players must be in front of the charging shooter. And as soon as the offensive shooter rises in the air, the defensive player will jump in like manner – doing so with one or both arms extended upward at the same time.
Once the shooter brings the ball to the shooting position, the defensive shot-blocker must mimic the movement. And must at no point make contact with any part of the shooter’s body.
The shot blocker must knock the ball off course for legal blocking while it moves at the upward angle before it begins its descent towards the basket. If a player deflects the basketball as it travels on its way towards the basket, they have committed a violation called goaltending. The result will be two or three points added to the opposing team – depending on the launching spot.
A widespread misconception about basketball is that the shooter’s hand is a part of the ball. However, this is false, and a blocked shot involving a touch to the hand results in a foul. To not get fouled, shot blockers must stop the ball and not hit the hand, wrist, or forearm of the shooter.
Top 5 Blockers in The NBA
This section will reveal the top five NBA shot blockers. The order will follow as:
Name – position / team name
- Hakeem Olajuwon – Center/Houston Rockets
- Dikembe Mutombo – Center/Houston Rockets
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Center/Los Angeles Lakers
- Mark Eaton – Center/Utah Jazz
- Tim Duncan – Power Forward and Center/San Antonio Spurs
Shot-blocking in basketball undoubtedly relies on experience more than any other attribute. Precise timing and a conscious effort to avoid fouls will greatly increase your success rate.
To effortlessly perform this technique as a newbie basketballer, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules. Practicing the drills above is another way to learn. Also, in your spare time, visit YouTube and watch videos of the top 5 blockers we listed above.