Man-to-man is the most basic defense in the game of basketball. It is talking, watching and anticipating. To have a good man-to-man defense, a player must do more than follow his/her assigned player around the court.
In man-to-man, each player is assigned to a specific offensive player. Even though this is a one-on-one defense, it does allow for switches and double teams. Many team turnovers are due to a strong man-to-man defense.
Man-to-man defenders need to put pressure on the ball handler which is the key to this defense - your goal is to stop him/her from passing or shooting. Playing man to man allows you to put the pressure on the dribbler, block his/her shots and always block out when the shot is made so that your team can get the rebound.
Here are some good strategies to follow (and practice will make them automatic):
1. Talk to your teammates. When you see a screen coming, say "SCREEN!" and "SWITCH!" if necessary, to alert your teammates so a switch can be made and a foul avoided.
2. When you see an opposing member shoot the ball say "SHOT!" so that everyone will know a shot has been made and will block out. If everyone doesn't block out, it doesn't help very much on the rebound.
3. If the opposing team is passing the ball inbounds, be sure to say "BALL!" in case one of you team members is not in a position to see that pass and can put up their hands, possibly deflecting a pass.
4. Keep a positive attitude. If you let your temper get the best of you, it doesn't just hurt you, it hurts the whole team. You will be more prone to foul or make a bad pass make some other bad move if you let your attitude rule your game.
Keep in mind that the man-to-man is a foul prone defense. A good player will learn to challenge the dribbler without fouling him/her and to block the shot without physical contact with the shooter. Talking to your teammates will increase the success of a man-to-man defense and decrease the foul risk. A good man-to-man defensive player knows where his man is at all times, and anticipates the play before it happens.
See you on the court.