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How to coach, teach and use the basketball run-and-jump full-court pressure defense

As mentioned earlier, the full-court version of run-and-jump defense involves influencing the dribbler toward the sideline by overplaying him to one side. Since most teams combat full-court-man-to-man pressure by sending the other offensive players down court and isolating the dribbler to bring the ball down on-on-one, a measure of defensive control of the dribbler is necessary. If the dribbler is not moving down-court at high speed to elude his defender, the run-and-jump movement may fail to take him by surprise, in which case the attacking advantage may shift dramatically to the offensive team.

full_court_run_and_jump1.jpg (45819 bytes)Diagram 1 - Sideline-Influence Run-and-Jump Defense, Full-Court Press The movements involved in setting up and springing the run-and-jump are identical to those used in trapping the dribbler.. As shown in the thumbnail of the diagram on the left, except of trapping the dribbler with defensive players #1 and #2, #1 veers sharply away from the dribbler to cover offensive player 2. This difference may appear slight, but is vital to the success of the run-and-jump movement.

As shown on the diagram to the left, defensive player #1 begins in a close guarding stance on offensive player 1, playing him slightly toward the middle to influence his dribble toward the sideline. As 1 begins to dribble, defensive player #1 attempts to guard him closely and force him toward the sideline to reduce his maneuvering room and vision of the court.

Meanwhile defensive player #2 slides back down-court, moving at an angle that gradually closes the distance between him and offensive player 1.

When offensive 1 nears the mid-court area, defensive player #2 sprints across the court and sets himself directly in offensive player 1's path along the sideline.

Offensive player 1, thinking he is being trapped by defensive players #1 and #2, normally will pick up his dribble and pivot away from #2 in his path; however, #2 has abandoned offensive player 1 and is sprinting across the court to cover offensive player 2.

full_court_run_and_jump3.jpg (42605 bytes)Diagram 2 - Varying the Run-and-Jump, Full-Court Pressure Defense.
Defensive player #2 covers offensive player 2 and is in position to cover passes to either offensive players 2 or 4. Defensive player #4 slides back and away from his defensive assignment as the dribbler begins his movement down-court, then sprints into position to cut off the dribbler before he reaches the front court. His teammate, #1, completes the switch by continuing down court to cover offensive player 4.

A pass from dribbler to his teammate #4 (not shown in the diagram) is extremely difficult to complete, particularly if defensive player #4 succeeds in making the dribbler reverse-pivot toward the middle to protect the ball.

In a trapping defense, either offensive players #2 or #4 would be open; however, in the run-and-jump defense neither player would be open. If the defense has played the run-and-jump to full advantage, offensive player #1 will have no one to whom he can pass the ball. All the defense has done in this case is to have switched defensive players #1 and #2's defensive responsibilities. Having used up his dribble and being desperate to pass the ball away before a ten-second backcourt violation is called, offensive player 1 is more likely to throw the ball away if the defenders away from the ball continue to cut off the passing lanes between their men and the ball.

Offensive player #1's pass is made even more difficult by the fact that defensive player #2 forced him to pivot away from him and the resultant pass will have to be made left-handed. Even if offensive player 1 is able to pass to teammate 2, the offensive team still has not advanced the ball past the half-court line and a ten-second violation is still a possibility.

In the trapping defense, the defenders attempt to pressure the ball handler into making a bad pass, aggressively double-teaming him and using the other three defenders to cut off the primary passing lanes. Pressure on the ball is increased, but defensive pressure away from the ball is necessarily reduced ... if the ball handler is capable of finding an open man. It is very important that the trapping defenders do not slap at, or try to take the ball away. They both should stand still with their arms stretched straight-up. We want the ball handler to lob a pass out of there that can be intercepted.

In run-and-jump pressure, the ball handler encounters similar situations, but aggressive coverage away from the ball will reduce the ball handler's ability to pass the ball. As a result, whereas trapping may be more likely to produce intercepted passes for the defense, run-and-jump defense is generally more effective in producing charging fouls, ten-second backcourt violations, or passes thrown out-of-bounds. Run-and-jump defense seldom gives up lay-ups, since no one is open down court when the switch occurs.

Although the run-and-jump can occur anywhere, and can be performed by any defender besides the one on the ball, it is best executed along the sideline by a player on the side of the court away from the ball ... defensive players #2 and #4 in Diagram 1. Many teams use the nearest defender on the ball side (defensive player #3 in Diagram 1) in making the run-and-jump switch; however, this movement is more commonly associated with zone pressure defense, since the dribbler can see defensive player #3 coming up (or #4 if the dribbler is dribbling along the other sideline.

In my opinion, the form of run-and-jump coverage shown in Diagram 2 is superior to the weak-side guard technique shown in Diagram 1, since the dribbler is naturally inclined to look for the guard on the other side of the court when he pivots away from the defender who is performing the run-and-jump. In Diagram 2, however, offensive player 2 is still covered by defensive player #2 and it is #4 whom is the switching defender.

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