Basketball: The 4 Main Things



  • Learn the defensive position (stay low, knees bent, head up and butt low).  Learn how to slide and play defense with your feet (short, choppy, quick steps), eyes should be on the midsection of your opponent if he has the ball, assume he’ll make fakes (ball or shot fakes) and don’t go for them.
  • Don’t reach in or try to block shots…just be quick, aggressive and try to disrupt your opponent.  Try to keep your opponent in front of you.  Try not to let him get past you.  Don’t leave your feet…get a hand up on the shooter…then box out.
  • Know where your man is and where the ball is (point with your fingers).  If your man has the ball, engage him (get closer).  If the ball goes away from your man, sag a bit (towards the ball) and open up so you can see both the ball and your man.  Watch for back-door cuts, back picks, etc. and get through them (the picks).
  • Learn how to take a charge—that’s a team-thing…it gives us another possession and a foul on one of their players.  The best player to take a charge is the “help” man, not the primary defender.
  • Guards:  know the difference between “Denial Defense” (getting in the passing lanes) vs “Sagging” into the lane to help on stronger post players.
  • Big guys:  know the difference between “straddling,” “fronting,” and playing “behind” your man.
  • Team defenses—2-3 zone, 1-2-2 zone, 3-2 zone, 1-3-1 zone, full-court vs. half-court,
  • Defense VideosCircle Defense (we call it “Connecticut”), Circle Defense (video), Shawn Swords video, Tom Izzo’s Defensive Shell Drill, 2-2-1 Full Court Zone Press, 1-2-2 or 3-2 zone defenses, 1-2-1-1 (Diamond) PressBetter Basketball Dynamic Defense (trailer).  The 5 Habits of Every Good Defender (Closing Out, Jumping to the Ball, Seeing the Ball, Talking to the Ball, and Threatening Penetration).

2.  Boxing out and reboundingone of the most important aspects of the game.

  • Defensive rebounding—gives opponents less opportunities to score.
  • Before you rebound, you need to box out…before you box out, anticipate the shot that is coming (especially if you are on the weak side).  Listen for “SHOT”, go to your man, contact his chest with your forearm, pivot and spin so he’s on your back.  Tom Izzo from Michigan State says to “Hit, Find, and Go” when going from blocking out to rebounding.
  • On defensive free-throws, anticipate more and feel for your opponent jumping in.  Step in front of your opponent and box out before rebounding.
  • Anticipate the shot and look to sneak in front of a defender…fight for position.
  • Offensive rebounding—gives us more opportunities to score.

3.  Ball Handlinggetting the ball up the court without “turning it over.”

  • Dribbling—speed dribbling (higher and faster) vs. defensive dribbling (lower and slower).  The most effective dribblers change speed and direction to keep defenders off balance.
  • Passing—3 main passes:  chest pass, bounce pass, overhead pass.  Use ball fakes and avoid telegraphing your passes (ie, don’t look right at the guy you are passing to).
  • Know the violations and practice not doing them…(traveling, double dribble, carrying the ball, back court violations (10 seconds), 3 seconds in the lane, etc).
  • Traveling is one of the most common turnovers…learn how to use a PIVOT FOOT with both feet, know how to “chest” the ball and “slash” or “rip” the ball when fending off opponents.  Know how to use your footwork and your body to protect the ball.
  • Use fakes—very effective weapon (ball fake, shot fake)–fake high, pass low…no rainbow passes.
  • Always go to the ball when receiving a pass—and always use 2 hands to catch the pass.
  • Big guys—know where your feet are—avoid 3 seconds in the lane.

4.  Offensework for the best team shot; be patient.

  • Know how to “turn and square“, know the “triple threat position“, and how to “ball fake and go by.
  • Assess the defense.  Know if they are zone or man-to-man—the opponents defense will dictate what offense we run.  You have to be able to read the different defenses and change your offensive sets “on the fly.”  “Diamond” sets for even-guard zones (2-3) and “square” sets for odd-guard zones (1-2-2, 1-3-1) and some man-to-man defenses.
  • Shooting the ball:  shoulder swing, elbow and wrist lock in at 90 degrees, ball is resting on fingertips of shooting hand, keep the shooting elbow “in”, the guide hand is on the side of the ball.  The shot is more “up” than “out” and there should be a nice follow through at the top (“feel the steel”).  Get good rotation (backspin) on the ball to create a nice, soft shot.  Shooting Basics with Julia Allender.
  • Team Offenses:  Rotation, PittsburghMinnesota, Low
  • Out of bounds plays:  Box, Box 2, Box Fly, Side Line Box,  Wake Forest (see option 2 on this video–starts at the 3 minute mark).  Wake Forest will be run against a 2-3 zone.

Basketball is a TEAM game and every player has a ROLE.  Every position has a different skill set and it is the coaches job to assess the players and assign them to postitions that will best serve the team.

Strength and Conditioning, Speed and Explosiveness

How Bad Do You Want It?  Part 2

Ball Handling and Dribbling Drills (Super Handles)

Jimmer’s Shooting Tips and Technique

Ray Allen’s shooting video

The Workout by Joe Halvorson

Steve Nash video

Magic & Bird:  A Courtship of Rivals