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How to coach and teach two-man basketball plays - diagramed - part 1

Most basketball plays involve only two or three players. The players, not directly involved in the play, should maneuver or decoy their defender away from the intended point of attack. It is a proven fact that if a team can outnumber its opponents on the offensive end they will be successful at scoring a bucket most of the time; however, this is not always available every time down the court for the best fast-breaking teams.

Two Players: Basic Play Patterns

The best offensive patterns when you cannot outnumber the opponent are two against two or three against three. Every basketball player needs to be well versed on these basic play patterns. In fact your players should be so well versed that they perform these plays by instinct, alone.

When three players are involved, things do become a bit more complex. Timing, movement, and ball handling always increases chances for error.

Two-man plays can involve:

  1. Guard with another guard.
  2. Guard with a forward.
  3. Guard with the center.
  4. Forward with the center
  5. Forward with another forward

In alternate terminology, the above would involve point guard and wing, point guard and post, wing and post, and wing and wing. Three-man patterns would involve the point guard, wing and post. Every basketball player should be adaptable enough to play more than one position or part of the court. As coach you must devote much practice time to two on two and three on three situations using a limited court area. Game conditions are best simulated at no more than half a front court.

Basketball Plays Without a Screen

Most play patterns use screens. The plays that follow are the only ones that do not involve a screen:

  1. The Give and Go
  2. The Change of Direction
  3. The V-cut to receive ball
  4. The Inside Handoff
The basketball give-and-go play diagramedDiagram 1. Give & Go -

1 passes to 2 faking a cut in 2's direction to move his own defender. As defender #1 moves, offensive player 1 pushes off his right foot around defender #1 cutting directly toward the basket. Offensive player 2 returns the pass.


The basketball backdoor cut diagramedDiagram 2 Reverse Cut (Backdoor)-

Offensive player 1 has the ball and teammate 2 is on the sideline. Offensive player 2 steps toward teammate 1 with his right foot. As his foot is coming down, teammate 1 fakes the pass. 2's defender moves out, 2 pushes off his right foot, takes a short step with his left foot, crosses long with the right foot and takes a pass behind his defender.


The basketball inside cut diagramedDiagram 3 Inside Cut -

Offensive player 2 fakes toward the basket, stepping with his left foot getting his defender's attention. Offensive 2 pushes off his left foot, takes a short step with the right foot and a long step with the left foot cutting inside his defender taking a pass from his teammate.


The ally oop basketball play diagramedDiagram 4 Alley-Oop (Dummy Play) -

Offensive player 2 is being guarded by defender #2. Player 2 is in the low-post position facing his teammate 1. His defender, facing player 2 and his arms up cannot see the ball. Offensive player 2 must dummy his defender into thinking he is not going to receive the ball. He must remain without expression, making no movements and not looking directly at the ball. Teammate passes the high toward the rim. Player 2 must move quickly, catching and shooting the ball all in one motion.

A dummy basketball play from out-of-bounds diagramedDiagram 5 Dummy Play Out of Bounds -

This is a dandy out-of-bounds play for a big man being guarded by a much smaller opponent.


Making a basketball V-cut to get the ball diagramDiagram 6 (A) Making a V-cut to get the ball and (B) Receiving Inside Hand-off.

Making a V-cut to get the ball begins with a fake toward the basket and a push-off with the far foot back toward the ball thus freeing oneself for the ball. This is fhe basic method that any potential pass receiver must use from any location on the court in order to free himself from a close guarding defender.


Diagram 6 (B) - Any time an offensive player can cut inside his defender and receive a pass within 15 feet of the basket, he is in excellent shooting position and should be given the ball.


moving to a basketball scoring position without the ball diagramedDiagram 7 (A) This play may be made at the strong side forward to strong side guard or it may be made to a forward on the weak side when the ball is in the possession of a guard on the opposite side if the key area is open as in Diagram 7 (B).
Setting an inside basketball screen diagramedDiagram 8 Inside Screen -

Offensive player 1 has passed to teammate 2 and has moved into position between 2's defender and the basket. The diagram shows him setting an inside screen.


Inside basketball handoff diagramedDiagram 9 Inside Hand Off - Player 1 has passed to teammate 2 and moved between player 2 and his defender. His teammate gives him an inside hand off and player 1 dribble drives to the basket. Player 1 should alway signal his intention for an inside hand off, perhaps nodding his head as he passes the ball to teammate 2.

Continued on next page (using screens)

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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