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How to coach and teach a basketball offense against the pressing defense

Today, we see more and more types of pressing defenses, including full-court, three-quarter-court, and half-court. These can be either man-to-man, zone, or a combination thereof.

As a coach, you must prepare your team to attack such defenses. If you don't, your team is in trouble. The following diagrams explain a definite set of principles to help you combat the press. Most pressing defenses want to put you into the position where a player can be double-teamed, or forced into throwing a long pass. This is usually along a sideline; however, you can be double-teamed anywhere on the court.

Do not throw the long pass unless your player has gotten ahead of his defender enough for a clear pass. A pass across half-court is dangerous. As a matter of fact, any pass should be short and snappy, and away from the sideline. There are two main objectives of any press-breaker:

1.   Bring the ball across the 10-second line and get into your half-court offense.

2.   Score against the press.

This is not a pattern against all pressing defenses. In fact, I don't believe that is one that fits all. This is simply a pattern that has been used successfully in the past and can be varied to suit the particular situation. Sometimes this looks like you have players coming out of the popcorn stand.

Basketball Offense against a Pressing Defense

How Pattern Begins

Players quickly align themselves in the manner shown on the left. The ball must be put in play as quickly as possible after the opponent's score.

    Player 1 is out-of-bounds with the ball

    Player 2 is to the left of circle, half-way between the center of the free-throw circle and sideline

    Player 3 is behind 2, in-line with the ball.

    Player 4 is to the right of the free-throw circle.

    Player 5 is in-line with the ball, about 10 feet behind 4.

    Players 3 and 5 should be the best ball handlers.

    Player 2 and 4 should be the bigger players.



Basketball Offense against a Pressing Defense

Press Breaker in Action

    On a signal, (slapping the ball), player 2 rear screens for 3 who drives toward 1.

    Player 3 receives the ball from 1

    Meanwhile, 2 sprints down the floor, stopping suddenly when reaching the other free-throw line extended and quickly retraces his steps, looking for a pass.

    When 3 receives the ball, he may pass back to 1 who cuts as illustrated, or spin and drive down the middle.

    Players 4 and 5 move fast to the far end in order to clear the backcourt. Player 5 may linger near the centerline in case 1 or 3 may have trouble and need help.


Basketball Offense against a Pressing Defense

Pattern in Action - Option 2

    If 3 isn't open, 4 rear screens for 5. This must be timed so that 3 and 5 do not come to the ball at the same time.

    If open, player 5 receives the ball from 1.

    Player 4 drives to the far end of the court, as 2 did in the previous diagram.

    Player 5 may pass to 1 or fake a pass, then turn in the opposite and dribble drive down the middle.

    Player 2 moves fast down the court, while 3 stays near the center line should help be needed.


Basketball Offense against a Pressing Defense

Pattern in Action - Option 3 - Scissor the Post

    When 3 returns the ball to 1, player 1 then dribble drives across the centerline and passes to 2. (This should not be a long nor a lob pass, but timed as 2 meets the ball.)

    Players 1 and 3 then create cuts that splits the post for quick scoring attempts.

    The same situation applies if 5 should receive the ball and 4 make the post cut as 2 did on the opposite side of the floor, serving as the post player on his side.



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