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December 15, 2014
Newsletter #52


Dear Coaches, Players, Friends,

Today's Quotes
"Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts." - John Wooden
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." - John Wooden



Today's theme is Bob Kloppenburg's Half-Court SOS Pressure Defense

Today's email is a brief overview of the 12 main rules of the SOS defense. If this sparks an interest, then see the complete article for more details, special trapping situations and full-court defense.

Bob Kloppenburg has coached at the high school, college and professional level, and was the defensive guru of the Seattle Supersonics (was also with the Rockets, Nuggets, Raptors, Bobcats, and Clippers). He has spent over 50 years developing the SOS defense!

"Bob Kloppenburg is a defensive genius." - Pat Riley, NBA Coach Retired

The SOS Pressure Defensive system is a man-to-man pressure defense but with weakside, zone-like principles. It is based on the concept of total disruption and forces the offense to react to it, rather than vice-versa. You can get turnovers and can generate a lot of "offense off defense" with the SOS. It is predicated on twelve (12) basic rules.

Rule #1 - On-ball defense. It all starts with tight pressure on the ball. Coach calls it "set on and smother", forcing the ball to the sideline.

Rule #2 - Force Everything to the Box (Sideline) Area. Forcing to the sidelines is somewhat similar to the Dick Bennett style pressure man defense with forcing sideline and baseline, but the SOS extends it even more by forcing to specific check-points. Keep the ball on one side in the box area (diagram 3), allowing cross-court skip-passes only. There are opportunities for trapping here.

SOS defense - on ball

Rule #3 - First Pass Denial. Similar to the Bennett-style, the pass to players one pass away is denied. The SOS however is more intense here, using what Coach Kloppenburg the "snuggle" (denial) position. The defender gets low with his/her nose at the offensive player's chest. The back, outside foot is 12 inches behind the offensive player's foot (so as to not get beaten by a back-cut). The inside arm and hand are extended into the passing lane, palm facing the ball.

Rule #4 - 2 Passes Away - Weakside "I" Positioning. When the ball is on the wing (see diagram above), the ball is pressured toward the corner by X2... no middle dribble-penetration. The pass back out is snuggle-denied by X1, and the low post is full-fronted by X4. The two weakside defenders are in the weakside "I", or "strike", position, with X5 in the "low-I" position and X3 in the "high-I" spot... similar to "helpside".

The "low-I" defender protects the basket, defends against the low post lob pass, and rotates to the low post full-front, denial position on the baseline dribble (below). He/she also denies the cut up to the high post, and gives help on dribble-penetration when the perimeter player gets beaten.

The "high-I" defender closes-out on the first pass back out to the top, and denies wing cutters.

Rule #5 - Baseline Drive Inside the Box - Trap and Rotate. In diagram 6, X3 forces the dribble to the baseline check-point. Here the ball is stopped with a hard trap from both X3 and X5. X4, X2 and X1 immediately rotate as seen in diagram 6, resulting in the positions seen in diagram 7. Notice that whenever we trap, there is "triangle-I" defending the paint area.

SOS defense - baseline dribble - trap SOS defense - rotation on baseline dribble - triangle-I

Rule #6 - Drive Outside the Box (no penetration) - Strongside Denial and Weakside I Packed Inside. Diagram 10 shows O2 forced to the corner by X1. Depending on your team's quickness, you can either have X2 full-front the pass into the low post, with X4 at the low-I and X5 at the high-I. Or you can trap the corner with X2 and X1 (diagram 11).

SOS defense - dribble to the corner SOS defense - trapping the corner

Rule #7 - Contact Switch all Screens. Unlike the Bennett-system, the SOS system "contact" switches all screens. Contact switches are not lazy switches but are aggressive switches with player contact, with the defenders ending up in the passing lanes, denying a pass to either player. This includes back-screens, down-screens, lateral post screens, ball-screens and dribble hand-off's, and is discussed in more detail in the complete article.

Rule #8 - Sideline Screen and Roll - Below the Free-Throw Line - Automatic Trap. If the offense runs a screen and roll below the free-throw line, automatically double team this.

Rule #9 - Sideline Screen and Roll - Above the Free-Throw Line - Contact Switch. For ball-screens above the free-throw line, contact switch.

Rule #10 - Ball in the Corner - Trap and Rotate... if you have a quick team. We discussed this above (diagram 11).

Rule #11 - Near Man Concept. The player nearest to the ball takes the ball... the near man concept. Whenever there is a question as to who takes the ball, it's the nearest man.

Rule #12 - Everything Stays on One Side of the Court. This was discussed above, keeping the ball on one side of the court. The pass allowed is the cross-court skip-pass. The nearest defender (usually the high-I) closes-out on this with high hands. Defenders rotate as soon as the pass leaves the passer's hands, and we set up the defense on the opposite side, with all the same rules.

There are more concepts including these aggressive trapping options: "Base Go Red", "Red Same" and "Red Rover". Once the half-court system is mastered, add the transition and full-court SOS defense, including "Back Shadow Trap", "Back Shadow Hold", "Up Shadow Trap", "Up Shadow Hold", "Face Shadow Trap", and "Lock Shadow Trap".


Bob Kloppenburg's Encyclopedia of the SOS Defensive System

The Encyclopedia of the "SOS" Defensive System with Bob Kloppenburg, NBA Coaching icon. This 3-DVD set presents all the details of the SOS defense, including the necessary drills, and on-court demonstrations.
Bob Kloppenburg's Encyclopedia of the SOS Defensive System

The Encyclopedia of the "SOS" Defensive System with Bob Kloppenburg, NBA Coaching icon. This 3-DVD set presents all the details of the SOS defense, including the necessary drills, and on-court demonstrations.


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Coach's Clipboard Premium Membership - join today! Really one of the best bargains available today for coaches and players. Immediate online access, comprehensive playbook with offenses, defenses, plays, drills, coaching and player tips, animated diagrams, video clips, mobile-ready, pdfs for print-outs, and more!

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Till next time...
Best wishes,
Dr. Jim Gels, aka "Coach Gels"
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