In basketball, a double team (also double-team, double teaming, or double-teaming) is a defensive alignment in which two defensive players are assigned to guard a single offensive player.
Among basketball strategies in which defenders are assigned to specific players (as opposed to "zone defenses" in which they are assigned to specific regions of the court), each defender is assigned to one offensive player (a "man-to-man" alignment). However, when an offensive player is overwhelming his or her defender, another defender may help out and create a double team. A successful double teaming can greatly impede that offensive player's movement and passing, such that passing him or her the ball frequently results in a turnover. However, because devoting two defenders to a single offensive player leaves another offensive player unguarded, if the offensive player succeeds in both receiving the ball and passing it to that teammate, the teammate's likelihood of making a shot becomes much higher than usual.
Double teaming is employed more frequently near the basket than away from it because a) offensive players' likelihood of making any given shot is greater and b) because players tend to congregate near the basket when the ball is in play there, a double-teaming defender can more easily break away if necessary (e.g., to recover a rebound or to block a shot from another player). One common offensive strategy is to have a tall, physically imposing player (usually a center) "post up" to force a double team, such that he can then either shoot or pass to the unguarded player (often a strong long-distance ["outside"] shooter attempting to make a three-point shot). A defending team may also double-team a good offensive player away from the basket simply to interfere with the offensive team's preferred tactics.