How do you best defend against a smart player trying to "square-up?" Your goal as a defender is to try to limit their options and thus take away the "square-up' as often as you can. How do you do this?
First, always try to deny your opponent the ball as aggressively as you can. By denying the passing lane to your opponent, they are often forced to receive a pass without getting “squared-up” as they receive it, and further from the hoop than they want to be. This allows you to defend more aggressively and not be put on the “defensive” (no pun intended J).
Once your opponent has the ball, try to immediately turn them in the direction they do not want to go. Ask your coach to help you understand this, but after you’ve played for a while you will start to get a feel for preferences your opponents will have. Also, never forget to notice ahead of time which hand your opponent prefers to dribble with, and unless you are trying to force them in that direction as part of your team defense, always force them to their weak side.
By taking away the lane your opponent is trying to pass or dribble to, you can force them to turn one direction or the other, or even better, turn their back to you completely to prevent you from stripping them of the ball.
By turning or forcing your opponent one direction or another, and then turning them again and again, you take away their chance to “square-up” and help all your teammates anticipate what option the opposing players will have to choose. Good basketball players are always involved in the effort to get “squared-up”, or prevent their opponent from getting “squared-up”. Good luck on both sides of this basketball tip!