There has been some controversy this Spring season over what constitutes permissable man-to-man defense, particularly with respect to helping defense and double teaming. As a result, I am putting out this email for all 4th grade coaches to help clarify what the intent of CYA Basketball was when implementing the mandatory man-to-man defense and how the refs will be instructed to call violations in the future.
The current rule, as listed in the 23 December 2003 rules on the CYA website, states:
"All teams in Grades 1 through 4 must play man-to-man defense for the entire game. No zone defenses are permitted. The intent of this rule is to develop better individual offensive and defensive basketball skills and better team play.
Helping man-to-man defense is permitted, but double-teaming players without the ball or not posing an imminent offensive threat is not. Players 3 ft. outside the lane do not have to be considered an offensive threat and thus do not have to be closely guarded until they become a threat. On a turnover or inbound pass into the backcourt, defensive players should retreat to their backcourt (the offensive front court) and must pick up their players man-to-man when they get within 3 feet of the lane. A technical foul may be assessed for illegal defenses after the second warning.
CYA encourages all players to be a part of the offense. There is no limitation on offensive sets, except for a clear-out offense (in which a single player handles the ball in isolation and all other team players are instructed to stand on the sides of the court out of the way). The referees should issue a warning if they perceive that the offensive team is using a clear-out offensive set."
The following is intended to clarify what constitutes permitted helping defensive and double-teaming:
Helping man-to-man defense is not only permitted but should be encouraged in order to teach kids fundamental defensive skills. This means that defensive players can pick up offensive players not assigned to them under two circumstances: 1) the defensive player is picked/screened and loses his/her man, or 2) the offensive player gets by his/her defensive player and poses a threat to score. In either circumstance, another defensive player is allowed to pick up the non-covered offensive player and stay with them until the original defensive player has a chance to recover. In addition, players can switch defensive assignments in such circumstances and remain with their new assignments until play stops or they have an opportunity to switch back to their original players (they should be taught to call out "switch" in such circunstances). Note that normally when players are taught man-to-man defense, the weak side players are instructed to play slightly off their assigned offensive players so that they can slide over and pick up any offensive players that break loose of their defenders and are driving to the basket. In our rules (see above), defensive players are not required to stay on their assigned players if those players are more than 3 feet from the lane and they are allowed to leave their offensive players to pick up any other offensive players near them that are not covered and pose a threat to score. Helping defense may occur anywhere on the court and does not need to be confined only to players with the ball. However, helping defense does not allow for multiple players to be guarding a single offensive player simultaneously if that offensive player is outside the lane/paint.
Double-teaming or trapping is not permitted under CYA rules for 4th grade except under very restricted circumstances. Specifically, more than one defensive player cannot cover a single offensive player unless that player is in an imminent position to score. To clarify the intent of this rule and make enforcement by the referees easier, being in "an imminent position to score" will henceforth mean any offensive player, with or without the ball, in the lane area/paint (excluding the key area). In the lane/paint, any defensive players are allowed to help stop an offensive player from scoring, dribbling or getting the ball. The offensive player in the lane does not need to have the ball (for example, if the offense attempts to post up their tall player in the lane, more than one defensive player can help prevent that player from getting the ball or scoring). Outside of the lane, only one defensive player should be guarding any one offensive player at any time; however, that does not have to be the defensive player originally assigned to that particular offensive player (see helping rule above). No trapping is permitted outside the lane. Any violations should incur an initial warning from the referee; after two warnings, a technical foul can be assessed, either against the player or bench depending on the referee's judgement as to whether this is player- or coach- initiated.
Zone defenses are not permitted. However, when a change of possession occurs, then the defensive players when retreating to their backcourt (in accordance with the no-backcourt defense rule) are allowed to set up initially in an area until the offensive player assigned to them is within three feet of the lane. If the referees observe that defensive players continue to cover an area rather than a player, then the team should be warned against using an illegal zone defense. After the second warning, a technical foul should be assessed against the bench.