Attack Dribble: Description

This entry is part 1 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions

Attack Dribble (North-South Dribble) is the first and most important layer of the Read and React Offense.  This layer is broken down into two sub-layers.  The first sublayer, Circle Movement, is comprised of all NON-BASELINE drives.  The second covers the adjustment to Circle Movement for any BASELINE penetration.

There is no saving the best layer for last here. Players must learn and embrace the value of this layer in order for offense to be successful.  Players must refine their thinking that penetration is purely a means of scoring. Instead penetration must be a seen as part of executing offense.  Just as passing and screening are part of any offense, dribble penetration must be used as a means for creating scoring opportunities.  Players without the ball must see penetration as an opportunity for them to score as opposed to watching the ball handler.

Many times “scorers” are the most aggressive penetrators.  Scorers are still encouraged to score.  However, they must be made aware of the opportunities they create for their teammates when they penetrate.  While an individual’s ability to score is valuable to the success of any team, an individual’s ability to create scoring opportunities is much more valuable.  A player’s ability to create these opportunities and make appropriate decisions will help the team identify and take advantage of  defenses that are out of position, which will inevitably lead to easy scoring opportunities for everyone.

On the same note, players who do not see themselves as scorers or play makers may not actively look to attack off the dribble.  These players must learn that it is not required for them to completely beat their defender in order for them to be able to use this layer effectively.  They only need to make the off ball defenders make a small commitment to them in order to get their teammate open.  This small bit of aggressiveness can lead to other positive outcomes if they can learn to incorporate it as part of their game.  This also provides less aggressive players the confidence that they can be aggressive and know they will have available outlets if the defense collapses or they feel uncomfortable trying to score.

Coming up…..the Offensive Points of Emphasis, Fundamentals and the Implementation Plan for the Attack Dribble Layer.

Attack Dribble: Offensive Points of Emphasis

This entry is part 2 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions

 

Initiator (Attacker/Ball Handler) Reactor (Receivers)
Drive to Create Offense Instant reaction
Proper footwork on 1 on 1 moves Aggressive movement
Straight Line Drives Proper footwork
Passing with proper hand Proper placement for attacker
Awareness of receivers Knees bent
Trust of receivers Hands ready
Identification of defensive rotations Read defense for next action
Stopping footwork
Initiator (Attacker/Ball Handler)
  • Drive to Create Offense
    At the point that player comes in possession of the ball, they should look at the basket.  Their first question that they have to answer is “Do I shoot?”  This is a question of shot selection which will be addressed in another post.  If the answer to that question is “No”, then they should ask, “Should I drive?” We encourage players to attack the basket as much as possible.  However, this attack is to CREATE OFFENSE. They must make a decision during their drive to pass or shoot.  If they draw a help defender, a teammate is open.  They should look to pass to their open teammate. We want our players to use dribble penetration to enter offense, just like they would use the pass. Just the threat of aggressiveness may be enough to open up a teammate.
  • Proper Footwork on 1 on 1 Moves
    A player who has the ball and who has not dribbled must practice proper footwork to learn how to beat their defender without dribbling. Jab steps and shot fakes should be practiced with left and right foot pivots. Players may not always be able to catch the ball with their “favorite” pivot foot.  This should limit their ability to be aggressive.  Being able to attack their defender both ways off of both feet without travelling is important.
  • Straight Line Drives
    Players must learn to attack in straight lines.  Many players try to drive in arcs which means they are driving into help side defenders. Attackers must look to get low and put their shoulder on the defender’s hip. A solid attack will force the help defender to come further off of their player to help and open up more of a passing lane.
  • Passing with Proper Hand
    Once a player has decided to attack the lane, they must always be ready to deliver a good pass to a receiver.  A good pass is made quickly, crisply, and on target to an open teammate.  In order to maximize, effectiveness of the pass, ball handlers must be comfortable making push passes and bounce passes with both hands.  Any receiver to the left of the ball handler should receive a left handed pass. Any receiver to the right of the ball handler should receive a right handed pass. A right handed pass to the left is slower and more likely to be deflected than a properly thrown left handed pass.  Passing with the proper hand is just as important is dribbling with it.
  • Awareness of Receivers
    Attackers must always know where receivers are supposed to be on any drive. They must be looking for receivers in their new spots, not in the ones that they were in before they attacked. This is best developed through repetition of Attack Dribble breakdown drills.
  • Trust of Receivers
    Attackers must also trust that their receivers will get to their spots.  There may be times when attackers may have poor vision teammate if they are in traffic.  They must be able to trust that their teammate will be in proper position and ready to receive a pass. Trust is only built through proper practice.
  • Identification of defensive rotations
    When a player attacks, defenses are going to help and rotate.  Attackers must recognize these rotations quickly to find open teammates.  These rotations may not be that complicated or difficult to recognize.  However, attackers must be able to recognize who helped and if a player is helping the player who helped.
  • Stopping footwork
    One of the more underrated skills in the game for a ball handler is their ability to stop with the ball. Coaches may have different ideas on how they want their players to come to stop if they have yet to pass the ball.  This is important to teach so that players do not travel when they pick up their dribble.
Reactor (Receiver)
  • Instant Reaction
    Receivers must react instantly to dribble penetration.  Any delay in their reaction may prevent them from creating enough space away from the defense to be open. This only comes with repetition until the point that the reaction is a habit.
  • Aggressive Movement
    Receivers must also react aggressively.  Along with their instant reaction, they must move as quickly as possible to get separation early from the defender. The more aggressively they approach their spot, the more time they will have to get their feet set and evaluate their next action.
  • Proper Footwork
    The footwork for this action is dependent on the coach and the player.  Some coaches may want players sprinting to the spot.  I advocate an aggressive slide so that the receiver never loses sight of the ball and is ready to change direction quickly if necessary.  This also puts them in a more balanced position when they receive the ball to be able to shoot quickly.
  • Proper Placement for Attacker
    We want receivers to get to their spots.  However, it’s more important that they are open.  There may be times where receivers need to stop short of their spot or go past their spot in order for the attacker to be able get them the ball. Usually, if they are in their spot, they are in decent position. Sometimes, they may need to adjust in order to give the ball handler vision of them.
  • Knees Bent
    All receivers must have their knees bent at all times.  This is prior to the attack, during the attack and before they receive the ball.  The only way players will be able to act quickly is if they are ready.  The best shooters are ready to shoot before they receive the ball.  The best drivers are ready to drive before they catch the ball. This starts with being in an athletic stance.
  • Hands Ready
    Receivers must also have ready hands.  Their hands should be out in front of their bodies ready to receive a pass.  This is another small detail that is easily overlooked.  However, it helps players be much more efficient in their movement if their hands are ready to receive the pass.
  • Evaluate Defense for the Next Action
    Receivers must always evaluate the defense to determine their next action.  Will I shoot?  Will I drive? WIll I make a fake? How can I beat my defender if the ball comes to me? Have they stopped my teammate in such a way that I need to move to be an outlet? This evaluation is constant. It can’t wait until they receive the pass.  
These points of emphasis are crucial in hammering out the small details of the Attack Dribble. Not all of these points will be able to be emphasized with everyone all the time.  Over time though if players can learn to improve at each of these small things, it will make marked differences in the end.
Look for a list of fundamental skills that are necessary to properly execute this layer in the next day or so.


Attack Dribble: Offensive Fundamentals

This entry is part 3 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions
  • Ball Handling
    In order to attack with the dribble, players must be able to handle the ball well with both hands. From protecting the ball, to attacking with the ball there are plenty of small things to teach within ball handling. There are tons of resources out there about ways to teach and improve ball handling.  There could be a whole blog dedicated to ball handling. I’m going to leave that alone…..for now.
  • 1 on 1 moves
    In order to attack off the dribble, players must work on their 1 on 1 moves.  Players must be learn how to beat the defender in front of them in order to draw a secondary defender to help. These 1 on 1 moves should be practiced in a variety of different ways: off the catch, off the dribble, off a rip through.  They should also be practiced on both sides of the floor with players learning to make moves with both feet as pivot feet. Players must also spend time playing 1 on 1. They are a ton of different ways to play it, and they should play it in as many ways as they have time. Maybe I’ll make a list of those later.
  • Pivoting
    Maybe one of the more underrated fundamentals in the game, pivoting is important for a number of reasons.  In this layer, it is especially important to teach the ball handler how to use their pivot foot in a 1 on 1 situation as well as how to reverse pivot so they can pass to the safety valave without travelling or getting the ball stolen.
  • Catching the ball on two feet
    When possible, catching the ball with two feet in the air and landing on two feet is highly advantageous.  Whether this is upon receiving a pass or off the dribble, players who can learn to land on two feet have many more options than players who land on a “1-2 step”. Not to say that the “1-2 step” isn’t useful, but catching on two feet makes players tougher to guard.
  • Passing with the correct hand at the target and on time
    Players must learn how to deliver a well timed pass to their teammates when the defense is drawn. Players must be able to make a pass quickly and on target. The best way to do so is with the dribbling hand.  So if a right handed player is driving left and draws a defender from the left, they should be able to make a left handed pass to their teammate.
  • Rotation footwork
    A person attacks.  The other players must get from point A to point B as fast as possible while always being in a position to receive a pass and do something with it.  The most critical receivers are the ones in the direction of the drive.   Teaching players how to rotate from one spot to another is critical.  Do they sprint to the spot?  Do they slide?  It’s up to the coach. I prefer an aggressive slide so that they always see the ball.  They can start and stop quickly, and they are always square to the rim.
  • Finishing
    Inevitably, this layer of the offense is going to get players scoring chances around the basket. Finishing these opportunities is critical.  Perfect offensive execution ends with putting the ball in the basket.  Many times this must be done through contact or in traffic. Players must learn how to finish with either hand, even if they are fouled.  We want to shoot 1 free throw instead of 2.
  • Shooting
    Shooting and finishing are similar but different. They are similar in that they refer to getting the ball to go through the hoop.  However, shooting 3’s and mid range jumpers is quite different from taking contact around the basket before or during a field goal attempt. Teams who can make shots have a huge advantage over teams that can’t. Some defenses will make it difficult to get in the lane by standing in the lane and daring teams to shoot.  The best offenses have players who can make shots. Shooting is a skill that must be practiced every day.
  • Rebounding
    Everytime a shot goes up, box out.  It’s pretty straight forward, but it must be emphasized.  Your players will shoot a lot during these drills. It’s a good opportunity to teach rebounding.

There are obviously a lot of details that have been left out of this section. There could be whole blogs on each of these topics individually. There are tons of books and movies and drills surrounding these topics. Maybe I’ll expound on those topics at some point. For now, I just want to point out 3 things:

  1. All these skills relate to this layer directly.
  2. All these skills can be taught and drilled with this one layer.
  3. Great players have most if not all of these skills.

Let’s talk defensive fundamentals for just a minute before we get into the details of Circle Movement.

Attack Dribble: Defensive Points of Emphasis

This entry is part 4 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions

Attack Dribble gives coaches the opportunity to teach the most important defensive concepts. The best teams make a commitment to playing good defense. It’s not just something that they talk about. It’s something they practice and something they do.  Playing defense starts with defending the ball.  If you can’t defend dribble penetration, you’re going to struggle.  What better place to teach this than at the beginning?

Different coaches are going to have different philosophies about how to play defense. Any philosophy can be taught. Any of them can be effective.  It’s the idea that it is taught right along side the offensive concepts that is important to me.

A.  On ball defense
On ball defense is where defense starts. If you can guard the ball well, it’s a lot easier to do everything else. It’s easier to defend off ball screens. It’s easier to defend on ball screens. It’s easier to defend the post. Teams don’t have to help as much, which means they don’t have to recover as much. Recovering less means fewer closeouts.  Fewer closeouts means less opportunities to get beat, which starts the cycle all over again.
B.  Closeouts
Closeouts are the toughest skill to perform on the court.  Taking away an open shot without giving up a drive from a disadvantaged position is very difficult.  Even good on ball defenders can’t play on ball defense if they don’t closeout well. This layer provides numerous ways to drill closeouts.
C.  Help and recover
It’s inevitable that players are going to get beat off the dribble. What do we do when that happens?  How do we help?  Where does the help come from? When we get beat, we have to recover.  Once we help, we have to recover.  In an ideal world, we’ll never get beat. We don’t live in an ideal world.  At least I don’t.
D.  Help the helper
We learned to help and recover, but now we have to learn how to help the person who helped. This is all about defensive rotations.  How do we rotate defensively? If we’re going to have a chance to cover all the possible outlets, we have to rotate correctly.
E.  Taking Charges
Rotating is important. Making the offense pay for their aggressiveness is game changing. Learning how to take charges avoids fouls and changes the momentum of games. Most charges are taken when someone is attacking off the dribble. Makes sense to teach it at the same time right?

Attack Dribble: Defensive Fundamentals

This entry is part 5 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions
  • 1 on 1 defense
    Good on ball defenders make playing defense off the ball easy.  Regardless of the defensive philosophy, the ball must be guarded.  Preferably, only one person is needed to defend the ball.  Teams must work on their one on one defense.  Again how you decide to guard the ball is up to you.  There are a variety of different techniques that coaches use in defending the ball. At the end of the day, players must be taught to guard the player with the ball. If teams can’t defend the ball handler, they are going to struggle. This layer provides a great framework for working on 1 on 1 defense.  Not to mention, that good defense will force the offense to improve.
  • Closeouts
    The closeout may be the most difficult skill to perform on the basketball court.  Yet, it is paramount to playing good defense. Many players can defend the ball handler, if they can keep the ball handler contained initially. Teaching players to closeout is important to “stop the bleeding.” If the bleeding isn’t stopped, it becomes harder for teams to recover and easier for teams to score.  This layer provides numerous options for working on closeouts in different ways and from different angles.
  • Help and Recover
    Eventually, the on ball defender is going to get beat.  Defining and drilling how your team helps on penetration is crucial.  Again there are a number of different ways to do this. At this point, the philosophy is irrelevant. We must recognize that it must be taught. The Attack Dribble layer provides numerous ways to drill this defensive fundamental.
  • Rotations on penetration
    Once someone helps, everyone else must rotate and help the helper.  Defining how this is done and then drilling it is important. Guess what?  You can do it all from the Attack Dribble layer.
  • Taking Charges
    There’s no need to repeat myself.  It’s all tied together with a nice little ribbon called the Read & React.
  • Rebounding
    Everytime a shot goes up, box out.  It’s pretty straight forward, but it must be emphasized.  Your players will shoot a lot during these drills. It’s a good opportunity to teach rebounding.

There are obviously a lot of details that have been left out of this section. There could be whole blogs on each of these topics individually. There are tons of books and movies and drill to discuss these topics. Maybe I’ll expound on those topics at some point. For now, I just want to point out 3 things:

  1. All these defensive skills relate to this layer directly.
  2. All these defensive skills can be taught and drilled with this one layer.
  3. Great players have most, if not all of these skills.

Now it’s time to teach Circle Movement, starting with the WHOLE picture…

Attack Dribble: Circle Movement Description

This entry is part 6 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions

Circle Movement simply says that when the ball is driven towards the basket all perimeter players must rotate in the same direction that the ball is driven.  In other words, if the ball is driven to the right, all perimeter players must rotate one perimeter spot to the right. If the ball is driven to the left, all perimeter players must rotate one perimeter spot to the left.

In the above scenario, 1 is driving to the right.  Player 2 is the most immediate player in the direction of the drive.  We call that player the Natural Pitch player.  Player 3 is the player to the immediate left of player 1.  When player 3 rotates to the right, he/she will end up behind player 1.  We call this player the Safety Valve player.

Circle Movement at this point is only for perimeter players.  Posts can be taught to circle move as well even though this is probably more than most teams want to tackle at this point.

Circle Movement is easy to teach and tough to learn.  Players will struggle in making this a habit. They will know what to do, but they won’t do it all the time initially. They may go through a series of steps in learning the action.

First, they may start by not moving or going the wrong way without the realization that they didn’t move correctly.  Then they will continue to do the same, but they will start catching themselves. Next they will react but it will likely be slowly.  They may even start to react incorrectly, but then catch themselves and rotate correctly.  Finally, they will start reacting correctly on a consistent basis.  It takes time and practice.  Regular and consistent repetition will make it a habit eventually.  Even then, it must be repeated to ingrain the habit into instinct.

Circle Movement is the hardest thing that players will have to learn. However, everything else is much easier in comparison.  Teach them Circle Movement first so that as time passes by their confidence only grows.  The alternative is to teach other things first and have initial confidence turn into frustration. In these situations, it may be difficult to get that confidence back.



Attack Dribble: Circle Movement (Whole)

This entry is part 7 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions

Since this is the first layer, we are only able to execute one action at a time for two reasons.

1.  Players don’t know what to do when they pass the ball.
2.  Players don’t know how to react in the post.

This will change when Post Slides and Pass & Cut are added to the mix. In the meantime, we will make a rule for all drills that says when a player passes, they are off the court and out of the drill along with the player who was defending them if applicable. This will allow us to practice multiple Attack Dribble actions when 3 or more people are on the court.

A. 5 offensive perimeter players 0 defenders 1 action

5 out or 3 out 2 in
Locate 5 players at the 5 perimeter spots. The player with the ball attacks the lane with one dribble.  Each player rotates one perimeter spot in the direction of the penetration. Ball handlers should always recognize their natural pitch and their safety from each location. Place the ball in each spot and show the rotations for one attack dribble from each spot.  All penetrations should be shown except for baseline penetration. Baseline penetrations and rotations will be covered in the second sub-layer.

The shaded player #2 in the above diagram is called the Natural Pitch player.

The shaded player #3 in the above diagram is called the Safety Valve.  

If 1 passes to the Natural Pitch player, they would fill out to the opposite side as 3, 4, and 5 filled the empty spots (as shown above).  If 1 passes to the Safety Valve player, they would fill out to the same side corner after 2 fills the wing spot.  (as shown below).

Keep in mind that the above diagrams show where players would be if there was only one action.  Ideally, another action would follow this drive and kick.  As multiple actions are tied together, players react to these actions making their placement unpredictable.  These strings of back to back unpredictable actions make the offense very difficult to defend.

4 out 1 in

Locate 4 players at 4 of the 6 perimeter spots. The post player should not be  included. The player with the ball attacks the lane with one dribble.  Each player rotates one perimeter spot in the direction of the penetration. Ball handlers should always recognize their natural pitch and their safety from each location. Place the ball in each spot and show the rotations for one attack dribble from each spot.  There are a few different combinations of player locations in 4 out. All possible combinations should be shown.  All spots 1 pass away from the ball should always be filled.  All penetrations should be shown except for baseline penetration. Baseline penetrations and rotations will be covered in the second sub-layer.

The shaded player #3 in the below diagram is called the Natural Pitch player.

The shaded player #2 in the below diagram is called the Safety Valve.  

Notice in the last drawing that 1 has not filled the other top guard spot.  This fill is optional.  There are advantages to 1 staying on the wing as well as advantages to 1 filling up to 2.  These advantages will be discussed in future posts. The post also has a number of options as well. These will be discussed in the upcoming layers.

3 out 2 in

Locate 3 players at 3 of the 5 perimeter spots. This should look the same as 5 out with two open perimeter spots.  The post players should not be  included. The player with the ball attacks the lane with one dribble.  Each player rotates one perimeter spot in the direction of the penetration. Ball handlers should always recognize their natural pitch and their safety from each location. There are a few different combinations of player locations in 3 out 2 in. All possible combinations should be shown.  All spots 1 pass away from the ball should always be filled. Place the ball in each spot and show the rotations for one attack dribble from each spot.  All penetrations should be shown except for baseline penetration. Baseline penetrations and rotations will be covered in the second sub-layer.

Now that we’ve shown the whole, it’s time to break it down.