A newer defensive concept in basketball called Peel Switching comes from Coach Will Voigt and the Angolan National Team. Coach Voigt discusses this defensive concept on The Basketball Podcast with Chris Oliver.
Peel switching is not a common form of rotation on defense in basketball. This unique defensive concept is a way to combat the goals of the modern offense. The game is more open, more spread. The goal of the offense is to spread the defense out, drive the ball to create rotation, and kick to open 3-point opportunities. In an effort to eliminate the biggest threat to the defense: rotation, Coach Voigt has designed a defense to limit how much rotating they do.
Traditional half-court defense, whether it is pack line or denial, mainly utilizes a help and recover or stunt and recover. As an offensive player drives to the rim and the primary (on-ball) defender is beaten, a help-side will rotate over to stop the ball. The primary defender will continue to recover to the ball. While those two defenders create a temporary “trap,” the other defenders will all rotate down to help the helper. Once the ball is stopped and the primary defender has recovered to his man, the help side defender who rotated over to stop the ball will be kicked out and recover to his man. This will start a chain reaction of kicks and recoveries. This can put a lot of stress on the help defenders to both cover their man, help on the drive, rotate to help the help, and then recover to their man.
More and more players have become better at recognizing this help rotation and making the diagonal pass out. This is a hard action to cover as help-side defenders have a lot of ground to cover- they have to a long way to cover down, then forced to long closeout to a shooter on the skip pass. This can put extreme pressure on the defense.
With peel switching, when the primary defender gets beat on the drive, the defense will rotate differently than the traditional way explained above. The help side defenders will initially rotate as they normally would. The big rotates over to stop the ball. The other defenders will rotate down and over.
Here’s where it is different…instead of trying to recover and square up his own man, the primary defender will now “peel” and rotate to a new man. In “peel switching,” every player is essentially rotating over 1 player. This creates a less and shorter rotation for the defense. This is key in the day of more versatility and offenses that want to spread the defense out to create continuous rotation.
I look forward to watching more of Coach Voigt and the Angolan team at the World Cup.