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Beating a defender who is blocking?

How do you beat a player that is blocking/face defending an attacker who is finding it hard to get free? Particularly when they are trying to go forward into the space for the ball.

Hi Sheryl,

There are a number of methods you could use to lose the defender, using tactics such as feinting and dodging. We have plenty of drills for this, take a look under our getting free category for tons of ideas. I've included one for you below to try out! 

Hope that helps!

The Sportplan Team

Holding space

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Players work in 4s, with 1 ball.

GS and GK work in the middle with a feeder either side.

The GS in the middle positions herself on the opposite side to the ball. So when the lob pass is thrown to the other side the GK cannot move to get in between the feeder and the GS.

This should make for an easier pass to the GS inside the circle for the shot.

Coaching Points:

Holding space not only protects space, it also helps players conserve their energy.

The attacker needs to keep a strong body position, knees flexed and slightly wider than normal base. The player needs to work to hold this position by making slight adjustments with the feet to keep the defender contained.

As the ball is passed into the space attacker holds position until last possible moment and then lunges, jumps or reaches to receive ball without allowing defender to reach the ball.

Confidence, good footwork, getting close & personal to the blocking player and the ability to look beyond the block can assist with beating it.  Focus on where you want to go rather than on the player in front of you so you are proactive not reactive to the blocking player.  Try to draw the player out of the area you want to drive into then hold them to that space to roll, slide or drive through to take front spot.  You can also try defending the defender, turning your back on them to hold and roll, or backing right off to create space for a strong drive remembering a defender moving in to block a strong drive is likely to draw a contact penalty.   

the main problem if a player is having trouble getting away from a player no matter how they are defending them, is that they are weak in premilinary moves.  yes face to face blocking is harder to get away from, but it isnt impossible if you have strong preliminary moves (dodge, double dodge, half/full turn, change of pace ect) i would work at those first.  good footwork is the key to good preliminary moves.  

after that then it becomes a tactics game.  obviously this player knows exactly where their player is, but no idea where the ball is.  they can guess by where their opponents eyes are, and possibly noice, but it is still a guess.  so this is your key to getting away. move to an area that is not near the ball and let them think they are holding you there, when in fact, you too can be holding them away from the area of the court you wish to drive in to.  when you want to move, then do a prelim move and get away and drive into the space you have created before they know what hit them.  if we are talking a shooter, then a lob also works in these situations using a similar tactic of holding this player high (while they are thinking they are holding you) and then have the ball lobbed over their head.


Thank you to all that have responded - that is great advice and I will get my players to put that into action.

Another possibility is to work with a team mate to create a screen - eg. if GS is tightly marked by GK in the circle, the GA can position themselves on one side of GK which allows GS to move to the same side and forward. Of course, it depends on where the team mates opponent is. It also requires good communication. More suited to older and more experienced players.

Perhaps they could try a "roll" move where they turn & come forward to the side of the player or fake dropping back then drive forward

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  • search our library of 700+ netball drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans