Pack Line Defense

what is it and how do you implement it into your system?

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This is a great defense to use for undersized teams. There is a lot involved however and you must have 5 players working in unison to make it truly work. Legendary coach Dick Bennett developed this defense and many other coaches have followed suite including his son, Tony Bennett, at UVA. 

Typically in the college game coaches will use an imaginary line around 2 feet or so inside the 3-point line which they call the "pack line." If you are using high school court/lines...you can adjust this imaginary line to fit your teams needs, but usually around 2 feet inside the 3-point line works best. 

Pros for Pack Line Defense

  • - Difficult to score in the low post (offsets other team's height advantage)
    - Difficult to penetrate into the lane (offsets other team's quickness advantage)
    - Forces teams to beat you from the outside

Cons for Pack Line Defense

  • - Requires all 5 players to move together at the same time
    - Must be able to communicate well on defense
    - Allows you to get beat by great outside shooting (not recommended if the opponent has more than 2 great outside shooters)

If you find yourself playing a lot of teams that are more athletic, quicker, and/or taller then this is the perfect defense for you! Below are some basic rules to the pack line defense, but we highly recommend purchasing Todd Lorensen: Pack Line Defense for Undersized Teams (you can buy the DVD or download the instant video). This video breaks down the defense and builds it from the ground up (2 on 2, 3 on 3, shell drill, and up to 5 on 5). One of the big things that travel team coaches don't have time for is teaching all the ways to defend the pick-n-roll...Coach Lorensen simplifies this in his video and makes it simple for all teams to easy guard the pick-n-roll within the pack line defensive system. 

Basic Rules
The defender guarding the ball will put heavy pressure on the ball. The defender guarding the ball can not get beat by penetration in a straight line. The other four defenders will sag and play the gaps. This allows for easy help on penetration so that the ball can't get into the paint. Defenders will 100% front the low post as there will be help on the weak side for any over the top pass from the wing or corner. 

If the on-ball defender makes the offensive player pick up the ball...you can allow full ball denial with the other four defenders during the dead ball. Player must be help on penetration while they are in the gaps, but also recover quickly and properly on close outs if the ball is passed to the player they are defending. "Fake traps" and close outs are usually taught in this defense. 

Cutting off the baseline is another rule to put into place as it will force teams to drive towards all the defensive help. If the ball does get passed into the post you can easily double the post to force the ball back out. 

As you can see the main purpose is not allow the ball into the paint either through dribble penetration or a pass to the post. Sometimes you have to "pick your poison" and forcing your opponent to beat you from the outside is a great strategy many times.

DVD to purchase

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Todd Lorensen: Pack Line Defense for Undersized Teams (choose DVD or Instant Video) 
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