Teaching Basketball Players To Play the Game

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

While I will write about a few different topics in my blog, the original purpose was to discuss the development of the game of basketball. Development, in my opinion, is more about how the game is taught than how it’s played. I believe if we teach the game better, players will play it better.  This teaching goes all the way from individual skill development to 5 on 5 play. Of course, players have to get in the gym and work on their skills.  Of course, players must take what we give them and do something with it. However, we have to do our part to make it something they can learn.

The 3 main keys to successful offensive basketball are spacing, player movement, and ball movement.  Let’s talk about each of these.

How much of the court are we forcing the defense to guard?  Part of this is based on our players abilities.  Defenses who have to respect 5 players who can shoot NBA range threes are going to have more court to cover than a defense who plays against a team who is only effective shooting from 15 feet. However, it’s also based on where our players are located on the court. Are we located close enough to each other to be able to make clean crisp passes away from defenders? Are we located far enough away that one player can’t guard two players?

Here are a few other things to consider.  Should we make all 5 defenders guard the entire court? Or can we create a situation where 1 defender has to defend a large area of the court alone (isolation)? Can we create a 3 on 2 or 2 on 1 situation as a result of a specific alignment or a specific movement?

Teaching offensive basketball begins with spacing.  Teaching players where they need to be on the floor gives them an opportunity to move themselves and the ball effectively into positions where they can score.  It forces the defense to cover more area and gives the offense more area to operate successfully.

Player Movement
The more that players move, the more the defense is forced to move. The more a defense moves, the more likely it is to get out of position.  The more defensive players have to move, the more tired they become so that they have less energy on offense.  However, this movement must be intelligent movement.  Players must understand how to move, when to move, and where to move.  Otherwise, there’s a good chance that spacing will be compromised.  Bad spacing is going to lead to bad offense.

So teaching players how to move intelligently, becomes critical to good offense.  The more intelligently players move, the less predictable they become to defenders.  A predictable movement is easier to defend than an unpredictable action no matter how quickly the movement is executed.  Teams who move in a systematic yet varied manner make themselves an opposing coach’s scouting nightmare.

Ball Movement
In the game of basketball, there is no more important object than the ball itself.  All of the strategies, skills, and intangibles mean very little in comparison to the ball. The ball moves in one of three ways: shooting, passing, or dribbling. Whether a player shoots, passes or dribbles is ultimately their decision.  As coaches, we must determine how much we try to control those decisions.  The more we try to control those decisions, the more players think as opposed to play. If a player isn’t comfortable in a certain area because of a lack of skill, they are not likely to execute this decision well.  In addition, the decisions of what to do with the ball at any given point in time are split second.  Many times that a moment of hesitation can turn a good decision into a bad one. Instead spending time controlling every decision, what if we spent more time teaching them skills.  What if we spent more time helping make them make more shots, better passes, and effective dribbles?  Then when they are on the court, they can have more confidence that they can execute whatever decision they make.  If we spend more time teaching spacing, skills, and player movement, the decisions that they make with the ball become a lot easier.

This blog describes how to teach the game this way. I’ve said that teaching and playing the game this way makes people smarter.  I’ve had people ask me how that’s true. I’ve had the opportunity to watch players who have been coached this way play in a “traditional” environment alongside players who have never been taught these things.  There is such a difference in their understanding of those three basic principles of offense.  Teaching these three basic principles provides a foundation for players to be able to execute so much more effectively.



The 8 C’s of Post Play

This entry is part 10 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

We’ve been talking about all sorts perimeter actions. You’re probably the team with more post players than guards. You are tired of all this talk about attacking off the dribble. You want to attack the paint with the pass. You want to get the ball inside to one of your dominant post players and all this dribbling is taking away from their touches. Trust me, post play is a huge part of the success of the offense.

The perimeter actions may get all the attention, but post play is the secret ingredient. There are so many ways for post players to contribute to the success of your offense. You can really tailor your offense to your personnel through the use of your post players. More on that later. For now, I thought a quick intro on how to be successful in the post might be useful.

The post is no place for the faint of heart. You have to expect collisions, contact, conflict, and confrontation. You are going to play against the biggest, tallest, and strongest players. You’re going to have guards coming around you like little gnats trying to bug you. You have to run baseline to baseline. You might even go multiple possessions without touching the ball. It takes courage to play in the post. It doesn’t come in pill form.

So you tell me you have the courage to mix it up in the land of the giants? Then you have to claim your spot. Whether on offense or defense, playing in the post is a fight for territory. Who gets there first? Who can hold their ground? You must claim your spot and fight for every inch. If you let a player take you off your spot, you’re not going to be very good. Stake a claim to your territory. Learn how to get it, keep it, and protect it.

On offense, you gotta call for the ball. Your guard may not see you. Even if they do, if you don’t call for it, they probably think you don’t want it. Call for the ball.
On defense, you gotta communicate with your teammates. You can probably see more of the floor than they can. Talk to them. Let them know what’s going on.

If you’re gonna claim your spot, and you’re gonna call for it, you better catch it. A post player with good hands is a valuable asset to any team. Any ball movement that’s going towards the basket will likely touch a post players hands. Whether it’s a good shot, bad shot, good pass or bad pass, a post player who can suck up anything in their area is invaluable. The more area they can cover, the better. You gotta have the ball to score. If your team has the ball, the other team can’t score. If your post player squeezes those loose balls, the other team has less chances to score.

Once you catch it, you gotta put that ball under your chin. It’s the strongest position that a player can be in with the ball. Catch it in the post? Chin it. Catch a rebound? Chin it.

You’ve done everything to catch and secure the ball. Now you have to check. Check for the defender. Check for the opportunity to score. Check for the double team. Check for the open teammate. This may or may not involve footwork. It always involves knowing where the other 9 people are on the floor. If you can know before you catch it where people are, that’s even better. You still gotta check.

Now it’s time to execute. Maybe it’s the outlet pass. Maybe it’s a post move. Maybe it’s the skip pass or a kick out. Whatever you decide to do, you must have the confidence that you can do it. You can’t think you can. You gotta know it. You gotta know that you can make your move in either direction and finish with either hand. You have to know that you can make that pass out of the double team. You have to know that nobody is going to take the ball from you because you put the time in the weight room to have the strength to protect it.

Finish. Get it done.
Finish. Put the ball in the hole.
Finish. Snatch that defense rebound.
Finish. Start the break.
Finish. Hit the open man.
Finish. Finish. Finish.
And no I’m not talking about a language from a Scandinavian country.

More 3 player diagrams are coming. Isn’t it about time to start talking about post play?


Part IX: Combining Layers

This entry is part 9 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

So you’ve spent the last two weeks or two months drilling skills and layers.  Players can execute fundamental skills.  They can react perfectly every time. Now they have to make them work in a live setting.  In other words, they have to perform layers consecutively, seamlessly, and efficiently.

Coaches ask regularly, “What combinations work best?”  While there may be some good answers to that question, I don’t think we can predict how defense is going to play us.  Even if we know a team’s defensive philosophy, it isn’t as if they will always be in the position they are supposed to be in. Are our players always in the right positions?

When we’re teaching players to combine layers, we should do this without defense. We should encourage them to incorporate certain layers in a possession.  We can let them execute any layer they want.  We can limit the layers they have to execute.  We can require that they can’t stop until they execute a certain layer or layers. This gives ball handlers freedom.  Players without the ball can’t predict what’s going to happen. Yet, they can be forced to think about executing specific actions.

However, when we want to teach our players which layers they should execute this must be done with defense on the floor.  I believe we must empower our players to make those decisions.  I believe we must show them and teach them when they should make one decision versus another.  I don’t believe we can do that without having defense on the floor.  Defense gives the offense something to “read and react” to.

In addition, putting defense on the floor allows to teach defense.  Defense is always in a reactionary mode.  However, offenses are much more organized.  They typically execute actions in a certain order. You can train defense to defend a certain set of actions by requiring that the offense execute specific layers in order.  In this case, you’re getting offensive reps in a live situation, but the emphasis really turns to the defense. If action A occurs, this is how we defend it. If Action B occurs followed by Action C, then this is how we defend it.  If Action D follows Action B, then we do this.

Coaches can dictate some offensive actions and let the players dictate the rest. Coaches can let the offense dictate all of them.  It depends on what, if any specific defensive concepts the coaches want to cover. Do they want to make sure the team knows how to rotate on a baseline drive or defend a staggered screen?  Or is it more important that the defense be able to react to unplanned offensive actions?

What you’ll see in this blog is that when offense is on the court without defense, they will be given a lot of freedom to do whatever they want.  The idea is the ball handler can’t make a wrong decision, but the people without the ball have to make the right ones.
When offense and defense are on the court at the same time, things become a lot more fun (or complicated), depending on your perspective. I plan to share some different scenarios that can be used to emphasize defensive concepts and still drill the offensive habits at the same time.

Part VIII: Building Blocks vs. Drills

This entry is part 8 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

In this blog, I will use the term “building block” very often.  I will try to be very selective in the use of the word “drill.” It’s so natural to use the word. I only want to use it when it truly applies.

I will propose very few specific drills in the descriptions of the layers. However, I will provide “building blocks” that coaches can take and build drills that fit their own situation.

This is very intentional for a couple reasons.

I have promised a drill compilation.  There will be lots of drills with lots of specific information about each of them. These specifics will be based on a specific set of variables, which I’m sure are probably very different from yours. If my situation were different, the drills would be altered accordingly. You should design your own drills for your situation from the building blocks I will provide. Of course if you want to “copy and paste” the drills, feel free. I just think you could do better for your team in your environment with your resources.

I just don’t want to get caught up in the description of drills and lose sight of what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to solve some specific problems. How can we compress time frames?  How can we teach offense and defense at the same time?  How can we get more done with less time?  How can we be great defensively and still be good offensively? How can we #growourgame most effectively?  How can we improve skills and IQ on both ends of the floor most efficiently?

Teams and coaches have limited time to cover everything they need to.  Some teams only practice a couple times per week. Some teams only have one or two baskets and one coach.  Some teams have 18 or more players.  Some teams are very skilled.  Others are not.

Don’t get me wrong, better players make this whole blog much less relevant. But I’m assuming the next team has players just as good as ours. How can we make the biggest difference in how our teams perform holistically, not just offensively?

Part of this solution is is through the building blocks that we can use to teach all of the different parts of the game.

Part VII: 6 Reasons Why Dribbling Actions Are Taught First

This entry is part 7 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

Bob Knight once said that he would like to take his guards to an island with 1,000 basketballs and tell them to dribble til there was no air left in the balls so that when they came back they would be tired of dribbling. That’s not an exact quote, but it’s close; you get the idea. He wanted his players to pass the ball. Useless dribbling kills offensive flow and rhythm. There’s no doubt about it.  However, purposeful dribbling is critical to good offensive execution. Dribbling 1,000 basketball around a deserted island would be pretty useless. So I’m right with him, sort of. I would hope they would come back and want to know how to dribble with a purpose.

Many lessons have been learned about how to successfully implement this style of basketball. The biggest lesson learned is in the importance of how the teaching is organized. Teaching players the Attack Dribble layer FIRST is crucial. I would argue this would apply to any style of basketball, but I must stay on task.

Traditionally, offensive systems, sets or plays use passing as their primary foundation.  While good passing is critical to the success of offense, the effective use of the dribble and specifically dribble penetration is just as important. I would go so far as to say that it’s more critical….STAY ON TASK!

It may seem counter intuitive to traditional practice planning to begin installing an offensive system with dribble penetration. That’s ok.  Some traditions need to be broken. I want to be part of changing how things are done. There are numerous reasons why I think we need to start a new tradition in this case. I will discuss 6 of them.

Reason #1:

Coach Torbett discusses that reacting to dribble penetration is the most difficult reaction for players to learn. Experience and research shows this to be true. Innately, most players penetrate looking to score.  As a result, players without the ball tend to become fans for a moment. They “sit on their couch” and hope to be able to say they were on the floor when so and so made the highlight reel. That doesn’t work very well for me.

Good offense is designed to create scoring opportunities for the 4 players without the ball as much as the player with the ball.  It must be instilled early and reinforced often that players who drive should be looking to create scoring opportunities for themselves as well as their teammates.  Similarly, players without the ball must be moving in order to provide the attacker passing lanes and create scoring opportunities for themselves.  The person with the ball will almost always receive more defensive attention than the other 4 players without it.  Therefore, training the players without the ball to take advantage of this defensive trend will cause defensive breakdowns and lead to numerous scoring opportunities.

Reason #2:

While this initial point is true, there are better and more important reasons to start with this layer. Teaching the attack layer first forces players to struggle initially. Yes, I am ok with my team struggling in the beginning, because they will be more successful in the end.

It sounds so easy; “drive right, rotate right.” Yet they get on the court, and they either stand still or rotate the wrong way. How can something easy be so hard? I don’t know but it is.  This clues them in on day 1 that they must dial in mentally.

On the flip side, players pick up Pass & Cut pretty easily. Teaching pass & cut first gives players a confidence that the layers are “easy” to learn.  Starting with the most difficult layer immediately clues players in that while the Attack Dribble layer may seem simple in words, the execution of it takes practice. Players will be more tuned in and approach the other layers with a higher level of focus, because that first layer was tough to learn. They should always be practicing the execution of the attack dribble layer.

Then as the easier layers are added, their confidence will consistently grow. Teaching Pass & Cut first will create confidence in the beginning only to be brought down by frustration later.  It is better to experience frustration in the beginning as opposed to end.

Reason #3:

Also, it is critical that players are taught starting with an aggressive approach.  Teaching Pass & Cut first will lead to the following…

“Oh look at us, coach.  Don’t we look good passing the ball around the perimeter and cutting to the basket? We have this offense down.  We are ready to play.”


It may look “pretty”, but watch your players. How many of them looked to find the next person to pass to first, instead of looking at the rim? Watch teams who run through their offensive sets 5 on 0.  How many of them have their eyes on the rim ready to shoot or attack on every catch? It will carry over to games. Players will miss opportunities to attack defense that was out of position for a moment. Now the defense has recovered.

Players should always be taught to look at the basket when they get possession of the ball.  They should always evaluate their options to score and attack as well as any options that might exist around the basket. Teaching other layers first takes the players’ eyes away from the basket, leading them to miss scoring opportunities.

Is attacking off the dribble as “pretty” as passing?  Maybe not. But we’re trying to score, regardless of how pretty it is.  Do players attack on every catch?  Of course not. Is the defense thinking that they might?  You better believe it.  Advantage offense.

Reason #4:

In my opinion, the biggest reason to start teaching offense with attacking the basket has nothing to do with offense and everything to do with defense.  If other teams can’t stop the player with the ball, then there is no need for any other layer.  And defensively, if teams can’t guard the ball, then there’s no need to worry about defending players without the ball.  If defenses can make teams pass at least one more time, then they have a chance to keep them from scoring. The closer a player gets to the basket with the ball, the higher their chance of making a shot or getting their own rebound. Teaching players how to attack and what to do when they attack provides a great tool for teaching on ball defense, closeouts as well as defensive rotations. Regardless of the defensive philosophy, defenses must be able to stop the ball, help, rotate, recover, and closeout. Each of these is critical into forcing teams to make one pass and hopefully one more pass. Teaching Attack Dribble first makes this opportunity possible on day 1.

Reason #5:

And now I’ll talk about why it also makes sense to teach passing actions after the dribbling actions. Teaching Pass & Cut early gets players into the habit of filling empty spots. That’s great. It looks pretty right?  Here’s the problem. Besides the fact that players with the ball may take their eyes off the rim, once the foundational layers are finally complete, it is hard to get cutters to break the habit of filling and take advantage of their many options as a cutter.

Teaching Pass & Cut right before the Next Best Action (NBA) layers gives coaches the opportunity to tie NBA’s to the end of the Pass & Cut layer instead of having to go back and break learned habits. Filling is just one of many options that cutters have. Teaching it in this way helps gives equal value to all of these options. Building this habit too early makes players think that filling is more important than posting up or screening.

Reason #6:

Teaching Pass & Cut later also fits into the defensive progression. Once players understand how to defend the ball, they can learn how to defend players without the ball. From cutters to screeners to players who post up, all of these actions come straight out of the Pass & Cut layer. Teaching players how to defend these actions falls right into place.  However, if players aren’t prepared to stop the ball first, it doesn’t matter much how well they are prepared to defend screens.

Players may take more than a full season to react to dribble penetration correctly most of the time.  That’s ok.  You can still score even if they don’t react exactly right all the time. Teaching the Attack Dribble first gives coaches the opportunity to constantly reinforce these habits.  They can and should move on to other layers before this one is mastered.

However, players must know that their coaches want them to be aggressive. Players must take advantage of defensive players who are out of position. When teammates expect each other to be aggressive, they will be more ready to make themselves open on penetration. Once players understand what to do when teammates attack, they can be taught how to use the dribble in other ways as well as how to pass and what to do when a pass is made.

Once these basics have been taught and drilled, a variety of other offensive concepts, from back screens, ball screens, and staggered screens, to dribble handoffs, post play, and weak side screens, are options that the offense provides. How these options are implemented are only as limited as the coaches who are teaching them and the players who are executing them. Regardless, it is imperative that the first offensive concept that is taught is the Attack Dribble.

That’s almost the end of the introduction.  If there are other topics, you’d like for me to discuss, let me know.  Before we get into the layers, I need to explain one more thing.

Then we’ll get down to business of breaking down each layer.

Part VI: Defense

This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

Defense is just as important if not more important than offense. It really does win championships. As much passion as I might have about letting players play the game in this style on the offensive end, I am more passionate about the importance of playing good defense. I believe this style of offense gives coaches the opportunity to build a tough defense. The key word here is OPPORTUNITY. Just like the offense creates scoring opportunities for players, it also creates defensive teaching opportunities for coaches. It is up to us to take advantage.

I will not get off on a tangent debating the pros and cons of different defensive systems. That’s for another place and time. All I’m saying is that whatever defensive system or style you choose, teaching offense this way makes teaching defense make sense.  Teaching players how to play offense layer by layer and then teaching them how to defend layer by layer just fits. Now it’s up to us to hold them accountable and up to them to make it happen.

Good defense isn’t going to just happen; coaches have to make players make it happen. We have to demand it, then teach it, and then demand it some more. The best part about this system is the opportunity to collapse time frames and teach defense using the same drills that are being used to teach the offense. We don’t have to make anything up. We just have to take advantage of the OPPORTUNITY that we’re given.

In teaching the offense, defensive players (dummy and live) can and should be added to drills as the coaches deem necessary.  Initially, drills should be done without defense so that players can focus on the skills that make up the layer.  Defense should be added in order to make the offensive drills more game like once players become more comfortable with the offensive skills and concepts being taught.

If we stop there, we are trying to win games instead of championships. We are trying to make players look good for a highlight reel instead of building complete players.  Would you rather have Carmelo Anthony or Scottie Pippen?  Allen Iverson or Rajan Rondo? Amare Stoudomire or Tim Duncan? All of them are great players. Some of them have highlight reels, and some have rings. Jordan and Lebron are special, one of a kind players. To say they haven’t worked hard would be pretty short sited. However, they were blessed something a little more than most. The rest have natural gifts that need development. We must develop the whole player, not just the offensive player. This style of play makes it possible.

Keep in mind, while we are emphasizing defense, players are continuing to build offensive habits and improve on their offensive skills at the same time with each repetition. The opportunity to teach defense is ours.  We must take advantage.

Teaching Defense

The foundational layers provide a framework for teaching basic player-to-player defensive concepts.

  1. Defending the player with the ball
  2. Defending receivers depending on ball and player position and movement
  3. Defending dribble penetration
  4. Defending cuts
  5. Defending the post
  6. Rebounding

Rebounding, which may be the most important concept on the list, can be emphasized in every single drill.  Teams are going to miss over half their shots.  The question is how many chances do they get at a second attempt.

Keeping people out of the lane increases the opportunity that teams will miss shots.  Defending the ball and dribble penetration is critical to good defense.  Attack Dribble is a great way to teach the first three defensive components in the above list, which are all centered around keeping people out of the lane.

Dribble-At and Pass & Cut allow coaches to teach players how to defend cuts and post players as well as parts of the other concepts. Other layers will provide different ways to teach the same defensive concepts.

The “advanced” layers provide the opportunity to teach more advanced defensive concepts. I consider screens an advanced concept in the offense and should be treated as advanced defensive concepts as well.  Players must have a good understanding of on-ball and off-ball defensive concepts related to the foundational layers before they will be able to grasp defending screens. If players can defend the most basic layers, then they will have a much easier time defending more advanced concepts.  Many times, the difficulty that defenses have defending screens is likely a result of poor positioning or communication that was never established in the beginning. If players are talking on defense, and they are in the right position most of the time, defending screens becomes a lot easier.

As each layer is broken down, the opportunity to teach defense will be discussed. Specific techniques or philosophies will be avoided.  I’m not going to get into that discussion right now. I just urge coaches to teach defense and demand it, even if it means your offense might not be as good. I believe that if you take time to teach defense, your offense will benefit more than if you only teach offense.

I know you’re not here to read about defense. So now we’ll head back to offense.

I’ll discuss why it’s important to teach dribbling actions first. Some of you have been asking for this one.

Part V: The Breakdown

This entry is part 5 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

In this blog, each “layer” has its own section dedicated to it.  The section will begin with a description of the layer.  Following the general description will be points of emphasis and fundamentals for the players involved in the reaction.  These points of emphasis should be the primary teaching points as each layer is installed.  The teaching breakdown of each layer follows these points of emphasis including building blocks that can be used to create drills to reinforce the teaching points.

These building blocks could be used as drills.  However, drills should take a number of factors into consideration. Here are three of many important factors:

  1. The number and skill level of players on the team
  2. The number and skill level of coaches on staff
  3. The number of available baskets

Coaches should start with these building blocks and design drills around them. I will be posting a whole bunch of actual drills.  However, any compilation of drills is not all inclusive. There are so many useful variations that will fit other teams better. If coaches understand the building blocks, they can create drills that are better than what I will post, because they will fit the needs of their own team.

However, the building blocks are the keys to building a complete system.  They will follow a logical progression in a Whole Part Whole Methodology.  If defensive concepts can be taught with a specific block, those concepts will be discussed as part of the description for that block.  The specific defensive strategy or philosophy is mutually exclusive from the offense.  However, all defensive strategies have certain concepts that must be taught.  The drills used to teach the offense can be used to teach many defensive concepts as well.

The whole part whole method is used for teaching each individual layer.  Significant time does not need to be spent on the initial “whole” segment. However, it is important that players see the big picture prior to the breakdown of the layer so that the smaller parts will make sense. Many of the building blocks used to teach the individual layers of the offense can be used to teach other parts of the game as well.  They are great foundations for teaching defensive fundamentals, footwork, ball handling, and a long list of other fundamental skills.

No matter what concept is being emphasized, repetition of the layers is required to make the reactions habitual. If the repetition of fundamentals are the focus, defensive players should be eliminated or be dummy players. If the purpose is to test fundamental skills or to improve on the execution of the offense, the defenders should be live.

For coaches who have time to work with their players in the off season, the building blocks can be used to repeat the habits of the offense with the focus being on their individual fundamental skills.  Once practices start, the same building blocks can be used with the focus being on the team execution of the offensive and defensive strategies.

As a general framework for this implementation plan, introductory building blocks for each layer will include 2 offensive players and 1 action.  As players become comfortable in 2 player single action building blocks, additional offensive players will be added to build the complete picture.  In most cases, it will not take long for players to be able to successfully execute 2 player 1 action scenarios.  These basic building blocks are good for the initial installation of each layer as well as the teaching and repetition of the fundamentals required to make each layer work.  However, they should not be relied upon over time for the improvement of overall offensive execution.

If the goal is to improve offensive execution of the Read and React, it is important to use drills that incorporate multiple layers and multiple actions. This of course means that multiple layers must be installed first.  Once teams can execute the foundational layers effectively, the rest will fall into place fairly easily.  Coaches must emphasize the layers they want their team to employ beyond the basic layers. As one of the advanced layers is mastered, coaches can add another one to the team’s repertoire.

The seamless execution of the combination of layers is something that players must master.  However, players should not be expected to execute a combination of layers until they are able to execute them individually. Youth teams may find that the foundational layers are enough for their complete offensive system.  However, once this foundation has been installed and becomes habit, teams should be able to add optional layers in later years to increase their sophistication.

The execution of combinations of layers can be achieved in a couple of ways.  Some coaches advocate the drilling of preset combinations of layers. This is one approach.  However, this blog will advocate giving the players the freedom to combine layers as they learn them with the expectation that the layers that the players choose to execute be done so properly.  The combinations that they employ should not be predicated in teaching offense. Predicated actions are good ways to teach specific defensive concepts.  However, in order to encourage offensive creativity, execution, and an increase in basketball IQ for players, it is imperative that players are encouraged to create their offense as they go.

There are a few ways to achieve this goal. If I was smarter, I might be able to think of more.

  1. Limit the actions to a certain group of actions.  (Attack Dribble would always be in the mix for me).
    1. You can only Attack Dribble or Dribble At.
    2. You can only Attack Dribble or Pass to the Post.
  2. Give them freedom to do whatever they want but they must include a specific action.
    1. You must set at least 3 back screens.
    2. At least 1 guard and 1 post must set a pin screen.
  3. A certain player must always execute a certain action
    1. Kristen must set a screen for every passer.
    2. Michael must Attack Dribble every possession.
  4. A certain player can never execute a certain action.
    1. Johnny can do anything except Pass & Cut.
    2. Christina can do anything except set a ball screen.


To achieve mastery of the offense, all players must be comfortable executing the offense as perimeter and post players. Players must understand that their role is determined by their location on the court, not the position listed in the media guide. To start teaching the offense, post players must be eliminated. Post players may not spend significant amounts of time on the perimeter and visa versa for perimeter players.  However, it is inevitable that there will be moments where players will need to be play outside of their comfort zone and must be able to react properly.

Any player who enters the lane or the area immediately around the lane is considered a post player.  Players who find themselves outside the 3-point line are considered perimeter players. Skill sets are irrelevant to the label of post or perimeter for offensive purposes.  At any given moment any player could be either a post or perimeter player and must react appropriately.  The majority of the structure for the offense is for perimeter players.

The Read and React only requires that post players react properly to dribble penetration. Coaches may add other rules and requirements for post players. We will get into some of the possibilities for these types of rules later.

So I’ve made two promises: a bunch of drills and types of rules that you might want to set for your posts. That’s all much later. We’re not there yet. Next, we are going to talk a little about using offense to build your defense.