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What I Witnessed was Like Rec Soccer, Part Two
by Rich Stoner, USAW Elite Basketball Training, LLC
A few weeks ago in a post entitled “Teach Players How to Play” the subject of teaching basketball players, particularly at the youth level, how to play basketball and not set plays was discussed, and sportbook reviews on basketball are on the rise. What prompted the original exploration of this topic was a conversation with a local youth basketball coach who told me that his practice was primarily based around working on offensive plays. There was no time for skill development and other aspects of the game that I described as priorities.
Last week, in somewhat of a follow up to, “Teach Players How to Play”, the subject of my post, “What I Witnessed was Like Rec Soccer” turned towards teaching players three fundamental components of basketball to go along with their skill development. First and foremost, the player needs to be able to get open on his own. Then they also need to be able to move effectively without the basketball in order to create space for themselves and their teamates. Finally, the player, once they catch the basketball, needs to come to triple threat and be able to create space out of a triple threat. Today’s blog post will focus on the second of the three components, moving effectively without the basketball.
The game of basketball is all about the ability to create space with or without the basketball, and having the ability to move effectively without the basketball can serve this purpose. It will not only create space for yourself but also for your teamates. As a matter of preference, I always like to use three on three to teach cutting without the basketball. Three on three provides more open space on the court and is therefore less intimidating for youth players, or any level player. Being less intimidating will ultimately allow them to become more comfortable trying new basketball concepts and help build success.
To start, three offensive players are placed on the perimeter (usually outside the three point line but in the case of the youth level inside the three point line will work) on both wings and at the top of the key. The simplest way to teach moving without the basketball is in a pass, cut, and replace format. The player at the top of the key enters the ball to the wing and then can use a shallow cut to cut away from the basketball while the opposite wing replaces them at the top of the key. The ball is then reversed through the player at the top of the key to the other wing and the cutting process is repeated to the other side.
Another option is to have the player make a basket cut to from the top of the key while following the ball then replace the opposite wing who has replaced him at the top of the key. It is important to note that players should not be robotic when working on cutting, moving, replacing, etc. The players should vary the type of cuts they use in order to simulate a more game-like situation. Point out to the players that they should see the defense and take what the defense is giving them. For example, if the defense is sagging off, then a shallow cut away may be more appropriate and will ultimately get them more open. However, if the defense is playing tight on the offensive player then a hard basket cut could serve to loosen the defense up and create more openings for the offense. Bottom line is, that players need to see the defense and the open spots on the court in order to help them make the correct decisions on where and how to cut. All the while make sure the players keep their spacing at around 15 to 17 feet between each other. Doing so forces the defense to really have to work to guard the offense and scoring should be easier than if the offense’s spacing was tight. Once you have taught these two types of cuts, add three defenders and have the offense try to score by specifically using a basket cut or a shallow cut. You can limit their dribbles to between one and three and really make them focus on moving effectively without the basketball in order to get open.
Aside from cutting, another option for getting open is the screen. Using the same format with three offensive players have them work on passing and screening away. For this component, it is important to teach a couple of technical points to the screener and the player being screened for. With the screener, teach them that in order to set an effective screen, they must be low, wide, and have their back facing the spot that you want the offensive player to receive the basketball. For the player receiving the screen, it is important for them to set their defender up in away and then run them through the screen. Not setting the defender up is somewhat lazy and can lead to them not getting open to receive the pass. As a matter of preference, I always teach the offensive player to come off the screen and step into the ball using an inside pivot technique (planting the foot closest to the basket first). This is more effecient and can lead to more scoring opportunities for the offensive player. Once these techniques have been taught and properly mastered add the defense and have the offense try to score using the pass and screen away option.
Going forward as the players become more familiar with seeing the court and reading the defense allow them to use what ever option they see fit. However, do not hesitate to stop play to qualify key points based on mistakes that are made. This is how the players will learn to play effectively and in the long run, it will make whatever offense you run much more successful.
Please let me know what other techniques you are using to teach players how to play and stay tuned for next week’s post where I discuss various options on how to create space out of the triple threat.
Dedicated to taking your game to the NEXT level,
Rich Stoner, USAW
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