Attack Dribble: Baseline Drive Adjustment (Whole)

This entry is part 11 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions

A. 5 players 1 action (WHOLE)

In all of the whole building blocks that make up this layer, all drives will be baseline drives. Ball handlers should always recognize their natural pitch and their safety from each location as well as the 45 and 90-degree windows.  Coaches should show the rotations for the baseline attack dribble from each spot.

5 out
Locate 5 players at the 5 perimeter spots. Since this layer is all about baseline drives, the ball will start with the player in one of the corners.  The player with the ball attacks the baseline off the dribble.  The other players fill the windows for the baseline drive.

4 out 1 in
Locate 4 players at 4 of the 6 perimeter spots and a post player in the post. Because of the different configurations in this alignment, it is important to distinguish when a drive is a baseline drive and when it is not.  All drives from the corner are baseline drives. Drives from the wing are baseline drives if there is no player in the corner.

Because of the number of different configurations of the 4 out 1 in alignment it is difficult to make hard and fast rules for which players should fill which windows.

3 out 2 in
Locate 3 players at 3 of the 5 perimeter spots with 2 players in the post.  The post players can be in the high post or the mid post. Because of the variety of combinations of spots, it is important for players to recognize when a drive is a baseline drive just like in the 4 out 1 in alignment.
There are even more possibilities for locations for all 5 players in this alignment.  It is important that players follow their concepts and principles and fill the 5 windows. They may not get filled the same way every time.  That’s ok, as long as they are filled.
Time to break it down.

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 II)

This entry is part 9 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions

After breaking down Circle Movement into all of its small parts and pieces, it’s time to put it back together. Unfortunately, there’s a problem.  We’ve only practiced single actions.  We have yet to put two actions back to back. The reason for that is we have yet to learn what to do in the post once we kick the ball out. All that we have learned is to drive and rotate for one action.

So the question is how can we put it all together if we can’t string actions together yet?

We can, we just have to carefully control the action. There are a number of ways that we can use the whole part. Just remember, we can’t drive baseline yet.

A.  3 out, 4 out or 5 out Circle Movement Test

Place 3, 4, or 5 players on the court in either a 3 out, 4 out or 5 out alignment. Give one player the ball.  The player will attack in either direction.  The other players will circle move appropriately.  The attacking player will keep their dribble alive, dribble back out to the open perimeter spot and attack again in either direction. This will test the players understanding of circle movement. Using 5 out for this test allows the coach to test 4 players at once.  I would recommend using 5 out for the test even if you plan on using a different alignment.

B.  3 on 3, 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 Live

Players are allowed to play live 3 on 3, 4 on 4, or 5 on 5 but only for 1 action which must be an attack. This will force good moves by the ball handlers.  They will get more comfortable with quick reactions to help defense. The other players must rotate.

There are a number of different rules that coaches could add to this building block to create different drills.  It all depends on what they are trying to accomplish.

Let’s cover the Baseline Drive Adjustment right quick so we can tie up this layer and move on to Post Slides.  Once we cover post slides, we can start stringing multiple actions together without kicking players off the court.  🙂

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.

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: 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: 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.