Post Play in the R&R: An Overview

This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series Post Play

The 8 C’s of post play was kinda corny and really had nothing to do with the team offense.  I mean, I know it wasn’t bad, but you probably already knew that stuff.  So now let’s get our hands a little dirty and talk about what post play looks like.  I will detail the different options.  This is more of a broad overview of the possibilities.  There is good news and bad news, and it’s all the same news.

Post play can look however you want it to look.  You can play with no posts.  You can play with 1 or 2 posts.  They can be located anywhere you want them to be for as long as you want them to be. They can have 1 rule or 100 rules. It’s completely up to you. The only thing they have to do is something we’ve already taught them to do. They must react to dribble penetration. They must execute their post slides. Other than that you can tailor their locations and actions to their skill sets and your preferences.

So now you’re either excited at the freedom or mad that I haven’t given you anything concrete. Let me try to bridge that gap.

Remember from post slides that a post player is considered any player who is in the post at any given time. A player may not be a post player for more than a couple seconds as they cut to the basket and fill to a spot. However, the longer a possession lasts the more options that exist for potential post players and the more potential for offensive variety.

Post players who have the ball have the same options as perimeter players who have the ball.  They can dribble, pass, or shoot.  I didn’t say all these were good options and you may decide to limit your post players.  That’s another discussion for another time.

The secret to unpredictable offense is post players who can be effective without the ball.  REMEMBER POST PLAYERS ARE ANY PLAYERS WHO ARE IN THE POST AT ANY GIVEN TIME.  MY 5’1″ PG IS A POST PLAYER EVERY TIME SHE CUTS. I HOPE YOURS IS AT LEAST 5’2″.

Your posts can be permanent or temporary.  They can start on the perimeter and finish in the post.  They can start in the post and finish on the perimeter.  They can screen on the ball.  They can screen off the ball.  They can be the recipient of a screen.  They can have one job or may jobs.  What can they do?  How much can they handle?

We’re going to talk about many of those options.  Just remember that just because I haven’t talked about it doesn’t mean it’s not an option. Just because I do talk about it, doesn’t mean it’s an option that you should use.

You have to know your personnel and what works best for them. I would enjoy your thoughts and comments.  Sharing is caring.

Permanent vs. Temporary Post Players

This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Post Play

When we talk about permanent posts vs. temporary posts, it may seem as if we are talking only about the advantages or disadvantages to different alignments. The discussion of 5 out vs. 4 out 1 in vs. 3 out 2 in is certainly up for debate. I guess I might discuss that at some point.

However, this discussion goes much deeper than just a preferred alignment . The question is how can we best maximize the effectiveness of our post players or players who can be successful in the post. This all starts by determining how many permanent posts we want to play with and how many will be temporary.

I guess we should define permanent and temporary in this context first.

Permanent posts start in the post and end in the post. The only time they are on the perimeter is to screen.

Temporary posts can start anywhere and end anywhere, but they actually stop in the post and are more than just a cutter at one point during a possession.

Advantages to Permanent Post Players

They are always there. They are always there to rebound. They are always there as a possible receiver. They are always there as a screener. They are always there to be screened for. The perimeter players can count on them being there. The perimeter players always know that there is a post presence. Permanent posts add a level of complexity to the offense. They can occupy multiple defenders without having the ball in their hands.

Disadvantages to Permanent Post Players

They are always there. They can get in the way. You may not want them catching the ball. They can disrupt the actions of the perimeter players. They add a level of complexity to the offense. They can occupy no one. They can confuse the perimeter players and post players.

Advantages to Temporary Post Players

They aren’t always there. They can take advantage of mismatches. The defense never knows when they will stop in the post. Their actions are less predictable. They are available to rebound. You can take advantage of versatile players.

Disadvantages to Temporary Post Players

They aren’t always there. They may forget to be there. They may have difficulty making the transition from one to the other. They may not know when to go from one to the other. The perimeter players may not know what to expect. They can get in the way of other post players. Their actions are less predictable.

I know this is general. I will get more specific in the next posts. It’s just food for thought. More to come later……

Permanent Post Players: Where Do They Go?

This entry is part 3 of 11 in the series Post Play

The last post talked about Permanent Post Players vs. Temporary Post Players.  We can’t really talk in detail about Temporary Post Players until we talk about Next Best Actions.  Before we discuss next best actions and screening, we should talk about the basic action of throwing the ball to a post player. This will likely be part of any offensive attack for teams that have a permanent post player, though it certainly isn’t required.

We will generalize actions related to post passing to all post players, but I want to discuss having a permanent post first. If you’re planning running things from a 5 out alignment, this post may not be very useful.  If you’re thinking about playing in either a 4 out 1 in or 3 out 2 in alignment, I hope it helps you. I guess it’s possible that you are playing with a permanent post player that you will never pass to. In that case, I guess you can move on.

So the question:  “Where does the post player go?”

The answer is anywhere you want them to go.  Either you’re ecstatic that you have that freedom or mad as a hornet that I didn’t give you anything specific. So to help people in both categories make a decision, I will describe a few options and discuss some of their advantages and disadvantages.

There are 6 posting areas that we talk about in the Read & React.  The short corners on each side, the mid post on each side, and the elbows on each side.  See the Diagram below.

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We will start the discussion with a traditional 4 out 1 in alignment.

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This is what a lot of coaches probably think about when they think about one post player with 4 perimeter players.  If you’ve got somebody in the post that you want to get it to, this is the most conventional way to do it.  This is what most players understand.  This alignment creates a lot of good ball side screening opportunities, from ball screens, to back screens, and flex actions.  It also creates the typical laker cut scenarios off of the entry to the post.  However, it can cut down on the driving opportunities.  Also notice that if 2 shoots the ball right now, the theoretical best rebounder is on the ball side. Most missed shots end up on the other side of the basket.  This may be a tough rebound for your post player to get.




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You might ask, “Why would I want my post player away from the ball?”  Well, it opens up a nice driving lane.  It creates off ball and weak side screening opportunities.  It puts your “best rebounder” in weak side rebounding position.You might say, “I want to get my post player the ball.”  Well you can. Your post players can post up from this position.  You may have to train them to do so.  You will have to train your guards to look for them.  You will have to train them on how to make the different kinds of passes that will be required based on this player’s position.  You would be surprised how effective this position can be.




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This may seem a little unorthodox but it can be especially effective to help stretch a zone. However, this opens up driving lanes.  It may also put a post defender in a bit of an uncomfortable position while putting the offensive post in a comfortable scoring position. Rebounding out of this position may not be as strong, but if your post is good at pursuing the basketball, then this may be a good position for them to do that.






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Again this is one is a bit unorthodox. It’s probably best used against zones, but it’s going to put man to man defenses in some uncomfortable positions as well.  It will force them to guard flash cuts as well as account for weak side rebounders in space.  There is an immediate outlet for the wing player on a baseline drive. It also sets up an interesting basket cut opportunity on a middle drive from this position.  A help-side defender can easily lose track of this offensive player in the short corner because of the spacing this position creates.




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Most of us don’t have dominant back-to-the-basket post players. They may be undersized, but they can make a 15 foot jumper. Many of them can catch the ball at the elbow and attack the basket from there.  This position also generates a variety of good screening opportunities and opens up the basket for cutters and penetration.  If your post player is a competent passer, this is a good location for them as well.





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There are so many off ball and weak side screening opportunities out of this weak side high post location.  This player also becomes a great option as a high ball screener after one pass.  You may have to place extra emphasis on this player to rebound since they aren’t as close to the basket. However, there are a lot of good options that be executed with the post player in this location.






So which one do you pick?  My recommendation is to put your post player in one location and then let them learn to play from one spot at a time. They don’t have to worry about moving except to rebound.  They can learn to find opportunities to screen.  They can learn where their teammates will be when they catch the ball in that spot.  They can learn how to generate scoring opportunities for themselves and others.  By playing in one spot, they can learn how to play on the ball side and the weak side because the ball will naturally change sides of the floor.

I would recommend that you pick the spot where your post player can be most successful.  If you want them on the ball side most of the time, I would say put them on the right side.  If you want them on the weak side most of the time, put them on the left.  I wouldn’t tell them to stay on the weak side or the ball side, because the ball can end up moving so fast that they can’t be effective.  Obviously as they learn , they will see other opportunities to take advantage of flashing and switching sides on the court.

There are a lot of different looks that can be created with one post.  A second post creates even more possibilities.  For now, let’s work with one post player and go from there.

Permanent Post Players: Where Do They Go? Part II

This entry is part 4 of 11 in the series Post Play

Let’s look at some possibilities for permanent post players in a 3 out 2 in alignment. The same principles hold true with the 1 post player alignments, except now the team can accomplish a couple different options at once. For the sake of these alignments, the short corner is called the stretch position.

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I hadn’t planned on starting with an “unorthodox” formation, but this whole blog could be considered unorthodox so why not. Doesn’t this look interesting?  All sorts of screening opportunities on the ball side with good spacing and options on the weak side. One pass could be made and all sorts of crazy things could happen. Staggered screens, pinch post, ball screens, and isolations are a few of the options.



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Now the post players have switched positions.  There’s space for the 2 to operate with good weak side screening opportunities.  Pin Screens, back screens, or shuffle cut screens are possibilities.  One pass from this position could lead to some pretty interesting options as well.




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This is the traditional 4 high set. Lots of things have been created out of this alignment.  I won’t waste your team talking about something you probably already know about, or at least can easily read about somewhere else.  Just know the R&R works out of this alignment as well.




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This looks a lot like a 5 out alignment doesn’t it?  Got two players that really aren’t post players, but they really aren’t guards either?  This might be an interesting look.  There aren’t as many obvious screening opportunities in this alignment, but it provides better rebounding than the traditional 5 out alignment as well as creating space for “tweeners” to operate.




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It’s a high low alignment.  No secrets here, but it is certainly effective.  This gives your posts an opportunity to work with each other more while at the same time providing lots of big-little screening options. The posts could be on the same side as well (ball side or weak side).  Each option gives different looks and options.



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BORING!!!  Ok, well it is to me, but only because it’s “normal.”  There’s still a lot of good stuff that you can get out of this alignment.




Ok so again the question becomes which one?  My thought is to use all of them, but only teach one at a time.  Teach players the difference in being on ball side and on weak side.  Teach them what to look for when they are high, low, or in the stretch positions.  Teach them how to operate out of each of them.  As they become comfortable in position teach them another one. Before you know it they will be able to work from all the positions regardless of where the ball is. It will take time.  Players will find success in different areas based on their skill sets.  However, as they advance their skills, they will be able to successful in different ways.

Imagine the possibilities.

Post Pass – Points of Emphasis

This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series Post Play

There are a number of points of emphasis for Post Pass Layer.  The passer and post player must work in tandem to execute this layer.  Both players have certain responsibilities they must execute to successfully get the ball in this position for this layer.

The 8 C’s of Post Play discuss some of these general details.  I don’t want to take time getting into the specific fundamentals.  There are numerous ways to teach players how to be successful in the post.  I may touch on these later. These 8 qualities are critical for a post player to be able to successfully execute their half of the action associated with this layer.

Again, the perimeter players are the real key.  Can the guard get the ball to post player?  This is a skill that does not come naturally to most players.  Some players don’t see the post player because they only see the defender in front of them.  Some players don’t feel comfortable getting it to the post player, so they do something else.  Some players try and fail. I watch guards all the time who can’t hit the biggest targets in the post.  Yes, we have to teach them that too.

Ball Fakes

  • Ball fakes are probably the most under utilized skill in the game of basketball.  Whether it’s a shot fake or a pass fake, a good ball fake can get on-ball and off-ball defenders out of position for just long enough to get the ball into a post player.  

Location and Angle

  • The location of the players on the court is important to getting the ball inside.  Ball handlers must have an angle to be able to get the ball into the post player.  They must be aware of help side defenders who may be anticipating any entry passes.  They must understand the distance between them and the post player is  important.  If they are too close, the post won’t have space to operate.  If they are too far away, defenders may have a chance to deflect or steal the pass.  

Catchable Passes

  • Guards have to understand their post players.  They have to understand that they may be holding off a defender while trying to secure the catch at the same time. Passing to a post player is different from passing to a perimeter player.  Passes must be catchable.  Of course a post player with great hands increases this room for error.  But guards still have to understand how to deliver a good pass that is away from the defense yet catchable by their teammate.


  • The Laker Cut is not a difficult cut to make, but it must be made with good pace and spacing.  The cutter must maintain separation between themselves and the post player.  This forces the defender to make a decision and makes the post player’s decision easier.  It also makes the double team on the post player more difficult.  If the cutter doesn’t cut to space, the post player can be put in a pretty precarious situation in trying to protect the ball.

Hitting the Cutter

  • Of course we want to hit the cutter if they are open.  This is a very advantageous position for the offense.  Conventional passes probably won’t be available here.  Post players will learn how to deliver the ball in close quarters, over, under, and around defenders.  They must understand that bullets are going to be tough to catch in these close quarters. Cutters must always be ready.  The opportunity for a pass to a cutter may be slim.  Cutters must always expect the pass.  



Post Pass – Whole

This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series Post Play

Post passing is a pretty easy layer to implement because it falls right in line with perimeter passing actions.  When a player passes to a player in the post, they must cut (high or low) to the basket.  The difference is that the cut may not be a straight line cut.  The cut will depend on where the post is located.  If the post is in the high post, they should cut low.  If the post is in the low post or short corner, they should cut high.  If the post is in the mid post, they have the option of cutting either way.  They should cut to the side that has more space.  The whole picture for most of the layers has been shown from a 5 out alignment.  It is best to have a permanent post player who stays in one spot for teaching this layer.

This is also the first real opportunity to talk about defending post players.  Do we play behind, 3/4 high, 3/4 low, full front?  Where does help come from?  Do we dig?  Do we double from the weak side? Before the catch?  On the catch?  On the dribble?  There may be one philosophy for everyone or it may change from game to game.  Here is where we start talking about defending the post.

5 on 0

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Letting the post move around or asking them to follow the ball may be too much at this point.  It will likely be more effective to keep the post in one spot and let the perimeter players create ball and player movement.  This will simplify things for the post player, and the perimeter players will have specific times when they know they can throw it inside.  They won’t have to force an action.

Perimeter players should be somewhat familiar, if not comfortable, with the previous layers at this point. It would be perfectly acceptable for them to run offense on air for a few actions. Then the coach can stop them when the ball is on the same side as the post, tell them to throw it into the post, and then show the Laker Cut action. This reinforces that the other actions are still important and that now there’s one more to add to their arsenal. The action may not be perfect at this point, but they can have a general idea before they move on to the breakdown.

Post Pass – Part

This entry is part 7 of 11 in the series Post Play

2 players 1 action

Just as with the other layers, Post Passing will initially be taught with a 2-player building block. A player on the wing will pass to the post player and cut to the basket.  The post player will pass the ball back to the cutter.  This building block should be run from both sides with perimeter players and post players in various possible locations (e.g. high post player and corner perimeter player).

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2 players 2 actions (permanent post)

You might ask, “What action can come next?” With only one other player on the floor and the ball in the post, the other actions are a little limited.  However, what would that cutter do if the post player faced up from the low post and drove baseline?

Most likely the cutter would be out of the lane.  They would be filling the corner spot for the drift pass.  Interesting huh?  Maybe this is a little advanced for youth teams.  However, as much as I like to teach post players to face the basket, this becomes a pretty important reaction.

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2 players 1 defender 1 or 2 actions (permanent post)

Now we can start working on that post entry in a more game like scenario. The defender can guard the perimeter player or the post player.  What do you want to work on?  Post Defense?  Guarding the Laker Cut?  Post entry with pressure?  Do you want to make this more challenging for the defense?  Give the perimeter player freedom to do more than pass the ball to the post player.

Do you allow the post player to have position?  Do you force them to earn position?  Do they come from the weak side or from the perimeter?  Is the offensive player allowed to make the lob pass to the post?  Have you taught the lob pass yet?  This might be a good time.  How long does the drill last?  Can the post player score?  Do they have to hit the cutter?  So many things can be taught with this one building block.

2 players 2 defenders 1 or 2 actions (permanent post)

Now we play 2 on 2 while we work on the skills we taught in the the previous building block.  Maybe we teach one or two skills and play 2 on 2 emphasizing those skills. Maybe the perimeter can only pass to the post?  Maybe they can do whatever they want.  Maybe the ball starts in the post.  Maybe the perimeter player starts under the basket and fills to the wing and catches a pass from a coach.  Maybe both players are on the weak side and the drill starts with a skip pass, which would force the perimeter defender to close out.  There are so many different ways to design this building block.  Different choices will emphasize different skills.  Yet, we are always teaching the offensive actions with every repetition.

3 players 1 action (permanent post)

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In this building block, there is a third player on the court.  On the post entry pass, this player fills the open spot vacated by the cutter.  This breakdown can also be run with the player in the corner.  This would reinforce the habit of filling up from the corner.  The post player has the option of scoring or kicking back out to the perimeter.  Since this is a 1-action building block, if the post player doesn’t score, the player who catches the pass from the post should take a shot.  Any other action from the perimeter player would require reaction from the other two players.  Your players may be ready to progress there, which is great.  Regardless, cutters should build the habit of finding weak side rebounds when the shot goes up.

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3 player 2 actions (permanent post)

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This building block starts just like the previous one except when the post kicks the ball back to the perimeter, this player must execute another layer of the offense.  This could be another post pass after a repost.  An Attack dribble action would provide the opportunity to drill Circle movement/baseline adjustment and post slides as well.  Both players without the ball in this drill must react appropriately to this next action. Once players are comfortable with this layer, the coach can start the ball in with any of the three players and let them execute freely as long as they include one post pass.  The coach must consider though that after two or three actions, the timing will no longer be realistic.

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3 players 1 defender 1, 2 or 3 actions (permanent post)

There are three different people to defend.  There are three different places to start the ball.  If you add a coach, there’s a fourth.  I would recommend limiting the drill to three actions in order to preserve the timing of the actions.  

3 players 2 defenders 1, 2, or 3 actions (permanent post)

This one is even more interesting than the last one.  This one (actually the rest of these) probably deserve their own individual post. You’re able to review many of the previously covered defensive concepts in addition to concepts regarding defending the post player in a variety of different ways.

3 players 3 defenders 1, 2, or 3 actions (permanent post)

See above. (Further detail on the combination of actions including this action will be included in the Combining Actions section in the Appendix).

4 players Up to 4 defenders with unlimited actions  (permanent post)

This building block is a 3 out 1 in breakdown.  This is great for a 4 out 1 in or 3 out 2 in alignment. It might as well be considered shell offense.  There are enough players ont he court to execute any number of actions without affecting the timing of the actions.  As with the previous building block, in the learning stages, the first action that players should execute is the pass to the post.  Then players can execute other actions when the post makes the kick out to the perimeter.  The post player should be encouraged to kick out to different players to increase the variety of the actions and reactions.  At some point, coaches can give players the freedom to execute actions with at least one or more of these actions being a Post Pass.