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The Forward Steal

Updated: Oct 10, 2022


Before we get going on steals this week, here are three philosophical points on the subject.

  1. I do teach steals to my players. Just like offensive players work on different moves to add to their game. And we introduce it and rep the skill of stealing the same way. We start with block reps that are extremely simple. That’s right, partner up and dummy offense dribble “x,y,z way” while defense attempts a clean steal. Similar to how we use dummy defense on offense drills and reps, I like to use dummy offense for defensive skills.

  2. On ball steals are for the better defenders. I would not teach or give the green light to a poor defender. I don’t even want a poor defender to be thinking steal, all they should be focused on is doing their job; contain, pressure, (whatever your principles are).

  3. Attempting on-ball steals should be the result of good defense, anticipation and patience, not gambling and reaching. I like to say, steals are like candy. They taste really good but you can’t live a healthy diet on them. Our team defense is not built on steals.

It’s called the Forward Steal because the steal occurs as a result of the forward leaning stance. This stance puts the defenders reach deep into the offensive player’s space. In using the forward stance the defender almost doubles the horizontal reach he/she has and can catch an offensive player off-guard.

The reason I like to rep out the Forward steal for players is because they too need to learn the extent of their new found reach. Simple having the offensive player dribble and the defender experiment on how far/close they can get in order to touch the dribble. We then can progress to a moving offensive player and so forth.

This last technique really makes the forward steal and takes it from a gamble/reach into an art. The Silent Count is the most impressive concept for defenders. In fact at the Lockdown Camp, the night of the day I taught this technique, a player executed the silent count and forward steal beautifully during a summer league game. He instantly was in shock at how genius the technique was and shared his good deal of hype towards me behind the bench.

The Silent Count is simply counting the dribble bounces on rhythm in your head as the offensive player dribbles. Most players don’t change their dribble rhythm, especially at lower levels, so counting will sync up your steal attempt. I typically suggest players go for a steal on the 3 count, this way the offensive player is clearly not in attack mode and has definitely kept a stead dribble rhythm. The count will time the steal attempt for when the ball is on its way back to the hand from the ground. Thus the offensive player has no direct control of the ball and allows the defender to intercept the bounce up.

Their is also a lot of hand to hand combat with the off-hands during this technique. Depending on the player, I will teach this maneuver. We do have to live with some fouls from our best defenders the same way we have to live with some questionable shots from our best offensive play-makers. But those instances should be far and few between.

Don’t discount teaching steals as apart of on-ball defense. By no means does it make a defender, but it does put power into their hands. Instead of going back on defense wondering what’s going to happen to them. They can stay in attack mode, they can be excited to go back on defense and think, what will I be able to do this possession, how can I disrupt this play. Let’s put the feeling of control, of asserting your will back on the defensive side.

See you next week.


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