Combining Actions Part I: Attack Dribble, Dribble-At, Pass & Cut

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Combining Actions

We’ve covered all aspects of the Attack Dribble, including Circle Movement, the Baseline Drive Adjustment, and Post Slides. Then we talked about the Dribble-At action.  We just finished talking about Pass, Cut, and Fill to a player 1 pass away.  This is a lot of stuff.  The rules are simply stated.  Applying these simple rules can prove to be just as difficult as the rules are simple.

By now, you’ll realize that players can execute single actions fairly well.  If we’re executing a 2 on 0 Attack Dribble action, they can probably execute it correctly. Of course they can.  That’s all they have to think about. They know the player is going to attack.  All they have to do is rotate correctly.  The same goes for any other single action. Well just like it’s easy for offensive players to execute when they know what the ball handler is going to do, it is also just as easy for defensive players to stop something when they know it’s coming.

There are two important qualities that determine how difficult this offense is to defend.  These are the two factors that will be the most challenging for coaches to overcome. The first is unpredictability of actions. Offensive players must be ready to execute and react to any action. A ball handler who is predictable is easy to guard. A versatile ball handler will be more difficult to defend.  Also this type player will force his or her teammates to be versatile in their execution of reactions. The better players are at reacting to individual actions, the more difficult they will be to defend.  If the defense is in a constant state of reaction to the ball handler, the offense will have the advantage.  If an offense allows a defense to dictate everything action they perform, the defense will have the advantage.

The second quality is the ability for players to execute consecutive actions at full speed. Even if a defense has no idea what’s coming, a decent defense will be able to stop one action.  A decent defense might able to defend 3 or 4 actions.  Eventually, even a good defense is going to have trouble defending multiple consecutive actions if these actions are executed at full speed.  However, this can be very challenging for offensive players.


A player passes, cuts, then fills out.  All of a sudden someone drives and kicks it out.  So they have to stop their fill and rotate.  The person who received the kick out realizes their defender isn’t going to close out soon enough and they drive.  Now the driver has to react as does the player who just had to stop their fill and rotate. Of course the other players have to react as well.

Five players moving at the same time seems like chaos.  Well to defense it is.  Initially the offense is going to look chaotic.  Well it would if you tried to play with 5 players at one time.  I wouldn’t recommend it yet. You need to combine actions first. What does this look like?

That’s what the next post will cover.  I will start by designating specific actions in a specific order.  Then I will generalize to the point where players have the freedom to choose the actions.  For the sake of conciseness, I will keep defense out of the building blocks in the next few posts.  I will reserve that for another post.  The biggest reason?  Things are about to multiply exponentially. You could say they are about to be out of control, chaotic, and overwhelming. I wouldn’t argue with you. Your players probably think so. In reality, they aren’t that complicated.  They just have to follow their rules.

This is where we really get to be coaches. Before, we were teachers.  We were teaching fundamentals.  We were teaching skills.  We were teaching concepts. We can’t stop being teachers.  We will always be teachers.  However, now we can be coaches.  We get to start being creative.  This is where things get really fun.  This is where the discussions can really begin.

OK.  OK. I know you’re ready.  Ready, Set, GO!!!!


Series NavigationCombining Actions Part II: The Draft Drive (2 player building blocks) >>