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How to coach and teach the nine basic fundamental plays of basketball

Throughout time, there have been a total of nine basic plays in basketball. In our first article, we discussed the Two-Step rule for receiving the basketball. This article is the beginning of a series of articles covering the eight-basic fundamental plays of basketball. You better bookmark and return often to keep abreast of each new addition to this subject.

Table of Plays

PLAY #1 (one-on-One)

PLAY #2 (Give and Go)

PLAY #3 (Pick and Roll)

PLAY #4 (Pick Opposite)

PLAY #5 (Scissors Cut)

PLAY #6 (Cut Through)

PLAY #7 (Shallow Cut)

PLAY #8 (Guard Around)

Play #9 (Pick and Pop)


Play #1 (One-On-One)

Stationary Moves

After a player catches the ball and squares up to the basket in the triple-threat position, he is in ready to attack his defender. This is so called because the player makes the move from a stationary position, before shooting, passing or putting the ball on the floor. All players should practice one-on-one moves every practice session.

Strong-Side Drive

After catching the ball in the triple-threat position, your attacker should execute a jab step. The purpose is to get the defender to react. This step should be made with the right foot by right-handers and the left foot by left-handed players.

The jab step should be short and quick, only about six inches. If the defender does not react quickly enough to the jab step, the offensive player takes a longer step with the same foot, attempting to get his head and shoulders past the defender. The player then should close the gap and explode to the basket with one dribble.

While teaching stationary moves, emphasize the advantage of using the fewest dribbles possible. Keep the head up and pass-off to a teammate, should the defenders collapse on the drive.

Crossover Step

In the course of making a jab step, the defender responds by sliding in that direction, teach your players to react with a crossover step in the opposite direction with a weak-side drive.

For example, a right-handed offensive player catches the ball, jabs with his right foot, forcing his defender to react, taking away the strong-side drive. The offensive player then crosses the right foot over to the left, stepping by the defenderís foot thereby, putting that defender on his right hip. Teach the importance of keeping the body and ball close to the floor as he brings his shoulders through and steps past the defender and puts the ball on the floor with his left hand.

Once again, the offensive player should always attack the defender by going in a straight line to the hoop. Teaching the fundamentals of effective dribbling of keeping the head up, ball low, and closing the gap is as important in the crossover drive as it is in the strong-side drive. When executed properly, either of these moves can lead to an open jump shot or a lay up.

Jab Step to Jump Shot

Defenders usually adjust to the jab step by taking a step backward to prevent a drive to the basket. This retreat gives the offensive player room to go straight up with a jumper if within his shooting range. Every player has his limits, but they donít often know what it is. As their coach, it becomes your duty to tell them their limitations. This is the best way I know to end losing streaks and start winning games.

To get his shot off, the offensive player must maintain good balance after executing the jab step. He can do this only by keeping the feet shoulder-width apart and staying low. This is why it is important to keep the jab step short (no more than 6 inches). Too long of a jab step forces the offensive player to reset which allows the defense time to recover and block the shot.

All these stationary moves should be part of every practice session. Coach McCutchan always started every practice with players spending 10 minutes between several stations scattered about the gym. On his whistle, every minute, his players quickly moved to the next station. That guy won 5 Division II National Championships and got him in the hall of fame.

Drills for PLAY #1

There are many team drills for the One-on-One Play. I like to use it in conjunction with the Two-Step Drills given in the following examples. Some are strictly instructional; however, most can be put in competitive drills which can be run many different ways. "Make it Ė take it" is a good method. That is, if the offense makes the basket, he or the team remains on offense. If the offense fouls, it is a turnover. If the defense fouls, the ball remains with the offense. A specific number of "turnovers" can be set up for the offense with score kept. Losers can do push-ups or laps.

Basketball's Two-Step drill

The Two-Step Moves by Forward to receive the ball. Use both sides of the court for drills. You can reverse the procedure and have the guards use the two-step rule.

Rule: When making a cut without the ball, take two steps away from the direction you are planning to go and then either cut toward the basket or com back to the ball.

Always demand your guards pass-fake to the two-step to freeze the defense. You may add a defensive guard to this drill.


Basketball's Two-Step drill

The Two-Step Moves by all five players. In this case, the Guard is open to receive the ball for an high-percentage open shot.

Rule: When making a cut without the ball, take two steps away from the direction you are planning to go and then either cut toward the basket or com back to the ball.

Always demand your players pass-fake to the two-step to freeze the defense.

Too often, players tend to stand around. The two-step rule teaches them to move without the ball and helps them to understand what you mean when you tell them to read the defense.

Related Articles:


Learn from an NBA legend...
Our 10 Most Frequently Read Articles:
  1. How to Play Basketball Defense

  2. How to Play Basketball Offense -

  3. One-on-one basketball moves

  4. Basketball Coach's toolbox

  5. How to Teach the 8 Basic Fundamental Plays in Basketball

  6. How to Teach Players to Dribble a Basketball

  7. How to coach and teach the basketball pick-and-roll play

  8. How to Coach the Basketball Give and Go Play

  9. How to Coach the 1-3-1 Basketball Zone Pressure Defenses

  10. How to Coach and Teach the Wheel Man-to-Man Basketball Offense

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