Attack Dribble: Baseline Drive Adjustment (Where Do I Go?)

This entry is part 14 of 24 in the series Dribbling Actions

In trying to describe this sub-layer of the Attack Dribble layer, I’ve realized the need to break down this layer even further.  This need arose out of various complications that occur in the 4 out 1 in alignment. The truth is that the same complications arise in the 5 out and 3 out alignments as well.  Even though a team might be playing 5 out, there could be 1 or 2 players in the lane when a baseline drive occurs.  This could mean that a 5 out alignment could look like a 3 out alignment for a short period of time.

This breakdown is FOR COACHES ONLY.  I would not recommend that we teach our players in this level of detail. I think this is a time when we have to encourage players to use instincts and common sense to accomplish the task the best way they can.  In other words, get the 4 windows filled whenever a player drives baseline.  I think they can figure it out.

However, for coaches who want all the details, here’s one approach. I would encourage you to share yours.

We’ll tackle each window 1 by 1.

The primary window that must be filled is the natural pitch.  That’s the one in the opposite corner.  That window should be filled by the perimeter player furthest away from the ball because they are closest to that spot and are best equipped to be a threat on receiving a pass.

The next window that we want to make sure is filled is the safety valve.  That one should be filled by the perimeter player closest to the ball.

Pretty simple right?

This leaves the 45 and 90 degree windows. Post players will likely be filling at least one if not both of these spots.  Remember post players who players who are in or around the lane. Some post players are “permanent” posts.  Others are not.  Regardless of the alignment, players must know when they are posts and when they are not.  If there are no post players, it’s pretty straight forward who fills the 45 and 90 degree windows.

Similarly, if there are 2 permanent post players, it’s pretty obvious that they will fill these windows.  If one player is on either side of the lane, they both slide up the lane and the windows are filled.

If both of them happen to be on one side of the lane, that means one will be higher than the other one. In this case, we will have the higher one “circle move” to the elbow opposite where they are now, while the other one slides up the lane.

In a 4 out 1 in alignment, one of the windows will be filled by the permanent post player, and one of them will be filled by the other remaining perimeter player. This “other perimeter player” could be on the perimeter when the ball is driven.  They could be in the lane. They could be exiting the lane.

The question is “Who Goes Where?”

If the other player is on the perimeter, it’s pretty simple to decide who goes where.  It may be that both players are already in the two windows and they don’t have to move at all.

 or 

It could be that the post is in the low post on the opposite side of the lane of the perimeter player, which basically means the post just slides up the lane and now both windows are filled.

 or 

All pretty simple and straightforward, right?

The same scenario holds true if the guard is a cutter and is on a different side of the lane than the post player.  Both players slide up and we have all the windows filled.

 or 

Again, that’s pretty simple.

There are two tricky scenarios that occur.

One is if the guard and post are on the same side of the lane when the drive occurs.  In this situation, we tell the permanent post player to go to the 90 and the perimeter player (or possibly cutter) to fill the 45. That one isn’t too bad.

The second is if the drive occurs when the guard is exiting the lane.  Does the guard keep going?  Or do they move up the lane? This is one of those times where players just have to make it work.

 or 

As much as we would like to set a hard and fast rule, this is one time where it really isn’t feasible. Players have to fill all the windows based on what makes sense.

Success! Simple, straightforward (for the most part).  We’re all good right? Well sort of. I could stop there and avoid the next more difficult question. But that would be leaving things incomplete. I’ve never been afraid of a challenge. The next question is “How do I know which player I am?”

More specifically, “How do I know if I’m furthest away from the ball”, “How do I know if I’m closest to the ball”, or “How do I know where my teammate is to determine if I should fill the 90 or the 45 degree window?”

Let’s try to tackle these questions 1 window at a time.

Natural Pitch:  I know that I’m the perimeter player furthest away from the ball if I am looking at the ball, and I can see all 4 of my teammates in my vision.  At the same time, if I can’t see all my teammates, I know I’m not the Natural Pitch.

Safety Valve:  I know that I’m closest to the ball if I am on the perimeter and there are no perimeter players between me and the ball. If there is at least 1 perimeter player between me and the ball, I am not the Safety Valve.

2 down.  2 to go.  Stretch.  Breathe Deeply.  Ready?  Let’s do this.

The first step is for players to know if they the 45 or 90.  This is the same as understanding that they are neither the Natural Pitch or the Safety Valve.  Once I know, I’m either the 45 or 90, I have to decide which one. How do I decide?

There are two different scenarios that can arise in this situation.

1.  One perimeter player and 1 post player.
2.  Two post players (one permanent post and 1 cutter)

Let’s say there is 1 perimeter player and 1 post player.   This is usually pretty easy for players to figure out.  The post player is going to move up the lane.  They will fill the 45 or the 90-degree window, which is determined by the side of the lane they find themselves on. The perimeter player must see this and adjust to the post player.  Everything that is happening should be in perimeter player’s vision.  It shouldn’t be too difficult for them to quickly go through the thought progression:

1.  I’m not the farthest player from the ball
2.  I’m not closest to the ball.
3.  The post is in my way.  I need to slide over opposite of the post.

Now let’s tackle scenario number 2.  A perimeter player is now in the lane with the permanent post player for some reason. The reason why is irrelevant. It’s probably going to happen How do they react now?  Again, they must know that because they are in the lane, they will fill the 45 and 90 degree windows on a baseline drive.  Now how do they know which window to occupy? How do they know “which player they are.”

If the drive occurs early in the cut, the cutter should treat it as if they were on the perimeter.  The post should be able to naturally slide up the lane while the perimeter player fills the opposite window from the post.

If the drive occurs in the middle of the cut, it’s likely easiest for the permanent post player to take the 90 degree window, while the cutter fills the 45 degree window. Again this may not be a hard and fast rule, but it should work most of the time.

If the drive occurs as the cutter is exiting the lane, this is the toughest scenario to figure out.  Do you let the cutter keep going and hope they get to the corner?  Do you stop the cutter and make them slide up the lane? I think regardless the post player must go to the 90 degree window.

My preference is to have the cutter stop their cut and move away from the baseline. This keeps the initial rule of “farthest perimeter player from the ball fills the Natural Pitch.”  Again, I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong answer to this.  At the end of the day, we must get all 4 windows filled.

I hope this isn’t confusing.  It hope it helps.

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?