A defensive strategy in which the defensive team applies man-to-man or zone defense for the entire length of the court. This strategy is typically employed in the hope that the added pressure to the ball-handlers forces them to turn the ball over.
There are a few different ways to apply pressure using a full-court press. The defense can deny the inbound pass or start applying pressure after the ball is inbounded. The defense can play man-to-man, zone, or a variation that involves both strategies. The defense can also trap the ball-handler using two players to apply added pressure, or just apply tight man-to-man coverage.
Because it takes a great deal of energy to defend for the entire length of the court, the full-court press is used somewhat rarely, and when it is implemented it's usually during clutch time when the defensive team is losing, or intermittently throughout the game. While he was the coach of the Chicago Bulls, Phil Jackson preferred to use the full-court press after every possession that ended with a made free throw.