A Contest is when a defensive player raises their hand(s) in order to distract or deflect a pass or shot from the offensive player. This is a key technique that can make the difference between a good defensive player (and team). Contesting well physically and knowing when to do so is a subtle difference between average and exceptional defenders.
Knowing the Offensive Player's Range
First and foremost it's important for the defender to know the range of the player he or she is guarding. Shaquille O'Neal was a great basketball player, that doesn't mean you should guard him closely when outside the 3 point arc because that we know from seeing him play that it is not a shot in his range. If you are guarding a player where you are unaware of their shooting range, take a moderate stance of not guarding loose but not guarding tight. Find a comfort level in between and recognize tendencies:
Does the player consistently...
- catch and look to go to the rim? - Sag off a bit and over-play the dominant hand.
- stay on the perimeter and is not making cuts? - The player may be a spot shooter ... be ready to close out quickly to a shot if the ball is passed their way.