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Special Situations: Breaking Man Presses

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

Breaking presses are all about great spacing, simple reads, and solid decision-making. In this post, we'll look at our full-court Man to Man Press Breaking strategy.

Breaking full-court pressure is one special situation that all coaches need to be prepared for. There is perhaps no quicker way to lose a game than to allow teams to go on extended runs due to your inability to handle full-court pressure. Outside of preparation breaking presses always boils down to having great spacing, creating simple reads, and making solid decisions when we are inevitably trapped. As we put together our plan for breaking presses we want to have a find a way to allow our players to do these things in the most simple manner possible.

My approach to breaking presses has always been to keep things simple and remain as similar to our normal transition offense as possible. In doing this I think we are enabling our kids to play with their instincts and skills rather than relying on complex strategies. Whether teams are trapping, stalling, or simply making us work hard to get the ball over half court we think that keeping the same press break alignment and principles will give us the best chance to make good decisions versus any defense. In this post, we will take a look at our Full Court Man to Man press break strategy, and you will see that a lot of our Zone Press Break strategies carry over.

Other Special Situations Series Posts to Check Out:

Man to Man Pressure Strategy -

As we discussed above we are not going to make alignment changes when teams show full-court pressure against us. For the sake of continuity, we are going to rely on the same transition spacing and roles that we use in transition offense. That being said there are some unique problems that a good full-court man-to-man defense can create. So there are a few adjustments that we need to make, especially when it comes to getting the ball inbounded safely.

Alignment -

Inbound & Outlet:

The 4 Man will remain our inbounder, Just as he did in our Transition Offense.

The PG (1 Man) will be our main target for the outlet pass. Just as he does in transition he will sweep over to the right-hand side of the court and attempt to immediately receive the ball.


One of our wing players (2/3 Men) will sprint to the right-hand sideline and get himself in a position to receive a pitch ahead pass.

The other wing player will get to the left-hand sideline and get himself in a "Wait & See" position. Knowing that the possibility of the PG getting denied the basketball against full-court man-to-man defense is higher he needs to be prepared to come back and help.


The Center will serve the exact same purpose against man-to-man presses that he does against zones. His job is to essentially get to the middle of the floor and be prepared to help. In most cases, his flash to the basketball is not needed, but coming out of dead-ball scenarios he needs to have a heightened sense of responsibility.

Point Guard Entry -

Whether they are trapping or not a good man-to-man press will really put stress on your primary ball handler. For that reason, we want to make it a priority to try and get the basketball in the hands of our Point Guard right away. As you can see in both the diagrams below once the ball is in the hands of our Point Guard we are asking our other players to "Give it Room to Breathe".

Some Teaching Points:

  • Keep an Eye Back to the Ball

  • If they trap Come Meet the Ball

  • Use the Inbounder as your Check Down Man

Point Guard Entry -

Ball Side Entry:

Ideally, we just want our Point Guard to release and catch the basketball on the ball side. In live ball scenarios, this is something that we are able to get routinely.

Face Cut:

In those scenarios where the ball side entry is denied (left diagram) we are asking the Point Guard to "Face Cut" to the opposite side of the floor.

Face Cut - We are cutting across the face of our defender. This typically occurs when a defender attempt to deny us the basketball.

Post Up & Lob:

Another option that the Point Guard has, outside of the Face Cut, is to simply post up his defender. This may be especially useful if your Point Guard is a taller player or his defender is quicker than him. Posting Up may also be useful in dead ball scenarios when the defense has a better chance to position themselves for a denial.

Backside Options -

When you are facing Full Court Man Pressure you have to aware that denials can happen, and the backside players may be needed. Our obvious preference would be to enter the basketball to the Point Guard, but when that is not available the backside player must be engaged. Given the number of possessions that are started from a dead ball scenario each game, it is a likely scenario that must be worked on in practice.

Backside Options -


We are asking our Backside Wing Player to get to his normal Press Break position, with an eye back to the basketball in case he is needed to help.


Although the Center is not needed very often we want him to be prepared to come back and be our emergency outlet.

Re-Space Concept:

One concept we need to reinforce once the ball is entered is the idea of "Giving the Ball Room to Breathe". Whoever it is that receives the entry pass needs to be given "Point Guard Status". That person needs to be allowed to work in a 1/1 scenario, with the inbounder serving as the Check Down Man and everyone else spacing the floor with an eye back to the basketball.

Concluding Thoughts -

Entering the basketball to your best player, giving him space to work, and providing him with an accessible check down man should be the goal of your press break design. There are many ways to do this, but if you can do this while keeping the same alignment as your transition offense I think you will see the benefits in your players' confidence. Keeping them in familiar positions will allow them to make better decisions and allow them to process defensive movement more consistently.

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Coach Lynch Contact Info:

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