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How to coach and teach the basketball cut-through play

Cutting a player through to the opposite side of the court is another play that has been around for ages. The cut through is almost a necessary part of every offense designed to attack zone defense. However, the good old cut through can be used against man-to-man just as effective. Iíve seen teams us it to get into a stacked offense after a reversal of the ball.

Remember, the usual two-step rule applies to all players when receiving a pass from a teammate, Also, stress that the cutter and screener should always pass to shoulder to shoulder on the screen and the screener should always open-up toward the ball. Spend some time, teaching your players how to read a screen.

Keep in mind that the cut through, as any other play, has many options. All these other options need to be practiced in order to attain complete success with this play. Your advantages often multiply when the defense either denies a pass or over-shift in their effort to stop the play.

The Basic Set

The following diagrams show examples of the cut through from the Wing, Guard, Forward, and Point positions:

Play #6 Cut Through from 1-2-2 set offense

Play #6 Cut Through from 1-2-2 set offense

Play #6 Cut Through from 1-2-2 set offense

Play #6 Cut Through from 2-1-2 set offense

Play #6 Cut Through from 1-3-1 set offense

Play #6 Cut Through from 2-3 set offense

Options for Play 6

As mentioned earlier, there are many options. The options that follow must be practiced in order to take advantage of situations that develop during the running of this play. Your players must recognize and counter whenever the opponent attempts to deny a pass or over-shift in their attempt to defend the play.

Teach Players to read the Defense

Play #6 Cut Through - curl, flare, and pocket cuts

Do what defender allows

This is a good drill for teaching the offensive fundamentals of reading your defender. The way the defender moves dictates three counter moves:

  • The Curl
  • The Flare
  • The Pocket

The drawing illustrates some of the passing options available during the exercise of this drill. In the beginning, the coach serves as the feeder and as he teaches ... always catches the ball in a triple threat position.

Once players become adept to this drill, the feeding position can be filled by #8 or players rotate clockwise, whichever if preferable. The purpose of this drill is to teach players the proper way to use screens by teammates. Use these options with any play using screens.

Play #6 Cut Through - give and go

The Give and Go

Drill starts with #1 being closely guarded, making a crisp two-handed chest pass to the coach, and cutting to the basket. If open, he/she receives a return pass, jump stops, and lays it in the basket. (The coach must insist that all these are executed properly by every player.)

The coach is the feeder in the beginning; however, players are introduced once the players understand the proper execution of this drill. (This also becomes a good drill for teaching young players to properly execute the jump stop and prevent charging calls.)

All players must take their time using screens. Keep in mind the player receiving the pass can hold the ball 5 seconds, dribble it for 5 seconds, then hold it another 5 seconds. This is a long time! (Use this to illustrate the importance of taking your time. At least, in most cases, it is desirable for every ball handler to hold the ball long enough for a scoring opportunity to present itself.)

I always told my players to imagine the screener (5) as a big tree rooted in the ground. Simply play hide and seek with your defender.

Play #6 Cut Through - flare cuts

Flare Cuts

All players must take their time using screens. Keep in mind the player receiving the pass can hold the ball 5 seconds, dribble it for 5 seconds, then hold it another 5 seconds. This is a long time! Take time for a scoring opportunity to present itself.

As the player comes off his/her screen, he/her, in this case calls, "Flare!" The player catches and shoots. For variety, the coach can have player, shot-fake then shoot, or shot-fake and drive. (Try to make this drill as game like as is possible. Add defender at the post position, for example.)

Play #6 Cut Through curl cut

Curl Cut

If the defender tries to follow around the screen, the curl cut give the cutter an open path to an easy basket. As the cutter recognizes this, he/she shouts, "Curl!", as he/she executes the cut.

You need to use a number of perimeter and post drills in teaching your players to read the defense and learn spacing and floor balance that is much required in today's motion defense. Break your offense down into two and three-man plays.

In motion offenses, some coaches only involve perimeter players in three-man plays and post players in two-man plays; however, I do not subscribe to this theory.

Play #6 Cut Through - pocket cut

Pocket Cut

In this diagram, the coach has dribbled in order to allow more time for a scoring opportunity for #1 to develop. Player #5 helps obstruct the defender's route to the elbow. Teammate #1 catches the ball at the elbow and shoots. (As with the flare cut, the a shot fake and drive can be substituted for variety. Make this drill as game-like as possible.)

Run drill on both sides of the floor

 

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  6. How to Teach Players to Dribble a Basketball

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