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How to coach and teach the basketball pick-opposite play
(aka the backdoor and flex cut)

Back about 1959, Pete Newell used the backdoor trap. Later, Ed Jucker of Cincinnati fame refined it by swinging the pattern from side to side. Cincinnati’s Backdoor Trap series had one purpose: to give his big men at the forward and post position tremendous scoring power in close to the basket. We all know the easiest way to score is to get a player open under the basket and give him the ball. All eight fundamental plays have this in common; however, one of the most popular moves in the past century was this backdoor trap which later evolved into the flex offense.

I like the pick-opposite because it gets players moving without the ball on the weak side of the court and helps players in receiving a pass while in motion. The screen often causes mismatches when the defense switches to counter the movement. This play can be run from any offensive formation. Only a few are shown here:

Play #4 from a 3-2 Offensive Set

Play #4 from a High Post Offensive Set

Play #4 from a 1-3-1 Offensive Set

Play #4 from a High 1-4 Offensive Set


Many of the same fundamentals for plays #2 and #3 are the same for play #4. The screen must be wide and must be set on the defensive player, no matter where the offensive teammate is on the court. Since the screener will be facing the defensive man, he can set the screen as close as needed without touching him. The screener’s knees should be flexed and ready for contact.

Use a roll to widen the screen. The roll can be a reverse pivot in the direction taken by the defensive man. This gives the screener good rebounding position or leaves him open for a return pass. Whenever the screen forces a switch, you know a good screen has been set.


Players may receive the ball at the low post, medium post, or high post. Different shots must be mastered from all three positions, even though it is designed primarily to get the ball to a man at the low post.

When breaking off a #4 or flashing to the post players must come to the ball hard and come to a jump stop. This way, either foot can be the pivot foot. The screener should always open toward the ball as he, more often than not, is the most often open for a good shot


Close-out pivot chair drill

Close-out pivot chair drill

Use a chair to practice close-out pivot to open up for a pass. As the players break to chair, reverse or close-out pivot, and break back for the pass. Note: two steps should be taken.


Forwards dribble & close-out pivot

Give all forwards a ball to practice the dribble-up and close-out pivot. All dribble and come to a jump-stop. On command they all step toward the coach and prepare to hand off.


Forwards dribble & close-out pivot
Two-man close-out pivot Drill

Two-man close-out pivot Drill

Forward starts with ball and dribbles to the free throw area and comes to a jump stop.

1. Guard goes outside

2. Guard goes inside

3. Guard goes either way

4. Add defense on guard

5. Add defense on forward


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  6. How to Teach Players to Dribble a Basketball

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