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3 Tips For Better Offensive Play

Coach Pat Anderson, Online Basketball Drills

Coaching a youth basketball team can be a real challenge, especially when some of your players are new to the game. The following 3 tips are designed to help shorten the learning curve for new players, and help your offense function as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Reinforce these concepts in your practices and you'll see a big improvement in your offensive spacing, timing, and the opportunities for high percentage shots.

Let's get started!

1. Setting And Using An Effective Screen

The traditional screen "form" is in an athletic stance with the feet just wider than shoulder width apart, the knees bent, the fist up at the chest area, and the elbows just short of shoulder level. The screener's back should face the area the player receiving the screen will be cutting to.

For example, if it's a back-door screen, the screener's back will be facing the basket. In a down screen from the perimeter, the screener's back will face out toward the three point line.

The screener should be rock-solid and stationary. Practice this by getting your kids into screening form, then lightly push them from different angles using two fingers. They should have a stable base and not budge with contact.

I like to ask my screeners to raise a fist in the air to communicate to their teammates that a screen is about to be set. Some coaches also encourage their players to yell out the name of the player receiving the screen (though you may want to skip this to avoid alerting the defense to the play you are running!)

Last, and most importantly, the screen MUST be used correctly by the player receiving it. First, teach your kids to wait until the screener is established and no longer moving.

Next, make a misdirection cut, then brush off the screener as closely as possible, so their bodies actually make contact. This will prevent the defender from slipping between through the screen, and force him to go underneath (allowing the ballhandler an open shot), or chase over top (allowing the ballhandler a curl-cut to the basket).

2. Entering The Ball Into The Low Post

Many youth basketball players (guards and forwards alike), struggle to make a clean pass into the post, without the risk of interception or deflection.

The first step is reading the position of the defender. If the post player is being fronted (ie. the defender is all the way around the front side of the post player and completely denying the pass), the passer should look to lob the ball over the top.

Alternatively, the passer can try feeding the ball to a player at the top of the key or elbow area, who will have an even easier angle to lob the ball in.

If the defender is directly behind the post player, and not posing any threat to steal or deflect the ball, the passer can enter the ball directly using a bounce pass.

If the defender is favoring the baseline side, the passer should deliver the ball toward the middle of the key, leading the post player toward the basket if possible. And, conversely, if the defender is favoring the middle, lead the pass toward the baseline side.

Before the pass is made, the perimeter player needs to create a passing lane. This can be accomplished by using a shot fake (bringing his defender closer toward him and opening more space for the pass), a high pass fake (bringing his defender's arms up over his head), or a dribble (to get a better passing angle).
The post player has two important jobs: establishing position and providing a target.

Encourage your "bigs" to be physical in the paint, and use their hips, backside, and forearms to hold off the post defender and provide a clear passing lane to receive the ball. Providing a target indicates where and when the post wants the ball to be received, and eliminates any confusion between passer and receiver.

3. Using The Dribble Wisely

One thing that drives nearly every coach crazy is over-dribbling. Whether you coach 6 year olds or 16 year olds, there's always a trend for some players to try to do too much with the ball.

As a result, your offense stagnates, players who don't' receive the ball become listless and de-motivated, and it puts your team at a serious disadvantage.

In the half-court set, I ask my players to only dribble for one of two reasons: taking the ball aggressively to the basket, or improving their angle for a pass.

To reinforce this, I like to run a fun drill called two-dribble 3 on 3. Players are split into teams of three, and compete in a round robin-style tournament. In every game, they are permitted a maximum of two consecutive dribbles.

Rules For "Two-Dribble 3 on 3"

- If you dribble more than twice, it's an automatic turnover
- If you dribble without attacking the basket or improving your passing angle, it's an automatic turnover

Play a series of games up to 5, then crown your champion with some type of reward.

I'm confident that these three tips will help improve your team's offensive play. And if you'd like to see more free basketball drill articles, tips and videos, please visit my site at:


Coach Pat Anderson is the publisher of www.Online-Basketball-Drills.com, one of the web's best resources for youth basketball coaching tips, strategies and practice ideas.

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