DDM "Core Four" Starts

These are the four ways in which I want to train players to start their offensive possessions.


The DDM Offense is one that has been covered from every possible angle. It takes the most basic scoring element in basketball, the dribble drive, and makes it the core element of the offense. One thing that I have discovered over the years is that nearly every DDM coach has their own vision of how they'll teach their system. Although the basic elements might be present in all DDm systems there are some slight adjustments that coaching can make.


One thing I have tried to do is to simplify the process of teaching the system. I try to pride myself on being an active learner and one of my observations has been that there is a weakness in the content on the teaching of DDM as the clear progression. In this post, I want to start at the very beginning of possession and dig into the options that players have in the first 3-4 seconds that they cross half court. I'm calling these decisions the "Core Four".



Slot Drive -

One of the reasons we choose the DDM Offense is because we think our teams have an advantage in driving the ball to the rim. Perhaps, the first lesson we need to teach them is the concept of knowing when, and when not, to attack the rim. If we can train our players to recognize moments where the gaps are open and the help defense is not set then we are going to be ahead of the curve.


Slot Drive -

The most basic kind of DDM start is the slot attack. This option is the reason why I liked to take my best dribble drive attacker and place the em in the slots.


In this scenario, the ball handler sees a slot gap big enough to attack. I personally like to attack with the left hand at the elbow and dare the defense to react.


  • No Reaction = Keep Driving

  • Reaction = Counter


Advantages -

If we maintain our advantage throughout the drive then the goal is to drive the basketball all the way to the rim. If we encounter help then the goal is to transfer the advantage to another player. We typically do this with the drop pass and the quick pitch passes.



Blur Screen -

The Blur Screen enables the player with the ball to be able to transfer the moment to a teammate. If the paint is crowded or the ball has attacked from the slot multiple times in a row this is a nice alternative. One of the reasons I like the blur screen is that it provides us with a temporary moment of confusion and the potential for an extended finish at the rim.


Blur Screen -

The blur screen begins with a simple slot-to-slot pass. Once that pass is made we are expecting our passer to sprint across the floor to the opposite corner.


The Cutter:

For the cutter we have a few simple teaching points to increase their effectiveness:

  • Cut Hard

  • Cut Through the FT Line

  • Finish Your Cut

If the cutter finishes his cut all the way to the corner then we are going to get a nice gap for the basketball to attack.


The Corners:

This is probably a concept for another post but the players in the corners should be making sure that they are "holding the corners" on drives. What to do off of the ball is a bit tricky but we want players to be able to balance the ability to cut to the rim with the ability to kick up above the ball.



Wave -

One of my favorite counters to the blur screen movement is to incorporate the "Wave" concept into your teaching. If we detect that the defense is doing a good job of switching our main action then we want to go to one of our core reactions. Instead of hunting the slot to slot pass, we are going to simply wave our cutter through and have our handler attack the rim.


Wave Action -

We want our cutter to be moving with some speed once he makes his pass in the backcourt.


In most cases, we have discussed the concept of "Wave Cutting" as soon as the defense has made the switch to more of a sagging defense.


Off the Ball:

Off the ball, we want some key player movement that needs to take place. As the drive comes downhill we are expecting the 5 Man to circle away from the driving lane. This is a movement that will allow the drop pass to be made in the future.


For the players in the corner, we are pleading with them to "hold their position". The longer that the corner players hold their position the better the gap spacing is for the players who are attacking the rim.

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Slot to Wing DHO -

The Slot to Wing DHO is a great way to deal with difficult ball pressure. It can also be used as a way to flow directly into DDM concepts. Instead of attacking the slot or making the slot-to-slot pass, we are simply conducting a ball-side handoff. From here we have a number of options that we can use to exploit the double gap on the ball side.


Slot to Wing DHO -

As the slot to wind DHO is conducted the backside slot and wing are conducting an exchange.


Regardless of how the defense reacts to the action on the ball side, we want to make sure that the backside is being occupied.


The Ball:

Once the handoff is conducted I want the ball to follow a simple progression:


  • Score 1st

  • Action 2nd

  • Reverse 3rd

It shouldn't come as a surprise that I would want the ball to look for the scoring opportunity first, but it is worth mentioning from a teaching perspective. It is up to coaches to decide what to do with the 5 Man as this is conducted but my preference is to have him come up and screen for the ball. At the very least we are removing the best defender from the basket.



Concluding Thoughts -

One thing that I have found missing from DDM content is the idea of how to start your possessions. Most people understand the idea of attacking gaps, but getting players to recognize how to create those gaps early in the possession has been something I found missing from my research. I think that if you really hammer these four starts you can give your player a lot of ammunition early in the game.


If you want to check out my Deep Dive into this style of offense check out:


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