Sometimes a player’s greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team.” Scottie Pippen
Guarding the ball on the wing is different than guarding the ball at the top of the key. The same fundamental elements apply as in all perimeter defense:
1. You need to be in a proper defensive stance- Your feet should be squared up with the offensive player, as well as your shoulders.Your feet should be shoulder width apart and your knees are bent. Your butt is down and low to the ground with your back straight. You are on the balls of your feet, not your heels, which allows you to be more mobile and active with your feet.
2. Determine what kind of player you are guarding- Is the player you are guarding a driver or a shooter? This is going to determine how much space you give the offensive player. If the offensive player is primarily a driver, you need to be at least an arm length’s distance away. This way you are not too close when he attempts to drive to the basket, but you are close enough to be active with your hands. Your active hands can act as a deterrent and make it difficult for him to do what he wants. If he is a shooter, then you can position yourself closer, and take away his space, making it uncomfortable for him to shoot. You will probably want to force him to dribble.
3. Hands have to be active at all times- Tracing the ball is important when playing on the ball defense. Whichever side of the body the offensive player holds the ball, you should trace the ball with your mirror hand. If he holds the ball on his right side, you trace it with your left hand. If he holds on the left side, you trace with your right hand. Your active hands will make the offensive player uncomfortable, and it will be more difficult for him to shoot, pass, and dribble.
4. Use the sidelines and baseline as an extra defender- Assuming you are forcing all players away from the middle, because many defenses aim to keep the ball out of the middle, you can use the baseline as another defender. Help side from your teammate should come from the baseline side as well, but if you do a great job on defense, you can force the offensive player into the sideline or baseline. This means you should turn your feet toward and force the offensive player towards the sideline or baseline, depending on where he is standing on the wing.
5. Take away middle drive- You should have your top foot slightly above his top foot so he cannot drive to the middle, rather he is forced to drive baseline. If the offensive player is smart and quick, he will try to get to the middle because he knows the help is coming from the baseline side, so you need to use every advantage you can to prevent this from happening. Having your top foot properly aligned above his top foot should help.
6. Don’t open up your stance too much- In order to prevent a direct line drive to the basket from the baseline side you need to stay squared up with the offensive player. After alligning your top foot properly, your other foot, which will be your lead foot when you slide, should be pointed toward the baseline, not the basket. If this foot is pointed toward the basket, then the offensive player has a direct line drive to the basket. Point this foot somewhere in the middle of the corner of the baseline and the basket. This should be a sufficient enough angle to guard the offensive player when he makes a baseline drive.
7. Don’t watch the basketball- Keep your eyes on his belly button when he makes his drive. Your goal is to beat him to the baseline and make him retreat or change direction. If he beats you towards the end of the drive, but you did a good job not giving him a direct drive, your teammate should be there outside the lane ready to stop the ball.