Updated: Jun 13
In this installment of the Three Methods Series, we will look at different ways to work on defending the low post in your practice plans.
A common goal for nearly every offense is to get the basketball in the paint. Getting the ball into the paint allows the offense to get access to the most efficient shots in the game. These touches allow the offense to get opportunities for layups, free throw attempts, and open catch-and-shoot shots when the ball is kicked out. Paint touches can take many forms including the dribble drive, cutting to the rim, or getting the ball into the low post. In this week's post, we are going to look at trying to prevent one of these forms, the low post touch. The post-up may not have as prominent of a role in today's offenses as it once did, but we still need to have a game plan for those teams who still employ it effectively.
One thing I did want to say before we got into our practice concepts is that there are multiple elements of your defense that are responsible for limiting post touches. Although the concepts we are going to go over are mainly focused on the player directly defending the post, there are always multiple off-the-ball defenders who can also greatly impact the post entry. For instance, the player defending the passer can apply a greater level of ball pressure, or the backside help defenders can help deter the lob pass from being thrown. That combination of 1) the on-ball defender pressuring the passer, 2) the post defender taking away easy entry passes, and 3) the backside help deterring lob passes is what we are trying to create.
If you haven't had the chance to check any of the other Three Methods posts, here are the links:
Teaching Points -
One of the first decisions we need to make as coaches is how we are going to choose to defend the post. Typically coaches are going to fall into one of the three buckets with this choice; 1) full front, do not allow post-entry passes under any circumstances, 2) apply a 3/4 front and deter that post-entry pass, or 3) choose to simply play behind the post player and force them to go through a defender to get a shot. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to approach this, but I do think it is important to make sure your players clearly know what your philosophy is.
I tend to fall into the majority of the poll below and prefer to 3/4 Front the post from the topside. We want to make the post-entry pass difficult as possible, without giving the offense the chance to get easy seals & lobs over the top for layups. We want our post defenders to be actively engaged on the offensive players' top shoulder as a deterrent to that pass. If a pass is made - then we are asking our post defenders to "pop back" and square their man up. It's important to make sure that we force the offensive player to execute a skilled post move rather than simply let him catch and lay the ball in.
From a teaching standpoint, I will generally try to drive home these three points:
1. Chin on Shoulder - We are going to 3/4 front the post with our chin on their top shoulder and our lead foot and hand ready t deflect sloppy passes.
2. Pop Back on the Pass - If the offense does choose to make the post-entry pass we want to "pop back" into a low defensive stance, in preparation of contact from the post player.
3. Take Away the Middle - If the post player puts the ball on the floor we want to take away the easiest route to the rim.... the middle. We are teaching players to take that path away and anticipate a move back to the baseline.
Method #1 -
Early in the season, we want to isolate our post-defense approach in a 1/1 setting. In this concept, we are going to use our guards as passers and try to get this set up at multiple hoops. The basic concept would have the ball being passed between the two perimeter players while the post defender works on his 3/4 Front. Although we are doing this as a defensive drill this is also a good opportunity to teach our post players how to seal for lob passes.
1/1 Defend the Post -
The ball starts in the hand of one of the perimeter passers. We ask that the ball be passed at least once before a post-entry pass is attempted.
Ball on Wing - Low Entry
Ball on Top - Seal & Lob
The goal for the post defender is to either prevent the post pass or if he can not force the post catch as far away from the rim as possible.
On any potential post-touch, we are relying on teaching points from above. We are getting into a low defensive stance, expecting contact and ready to take away any middle drive. "Hold your ground" is a phrase that I find myself saying often when these post touches are made. We are forcing the offensive player to execute a post move to the baseline and then preparing to contest and box him out.
Once the possession is over we are going to get new players into the mix. I typically employ a defense-to-offense, offense-to-out, and out-to-defense style rotation. We should also get our passers in and out of the drill if we are working in a whole team setting as well.
Method #2 -
The second practice concept will look to incorporate high-post defense and High/Low action in your practice plan. I like the idea of getting our post players and forward types matched up and split into two teams. If I had a team of twelve I would try to get 4 pairs of players and then make the last four guys the passers. Those players would then use a combination of High & Low Post Flashes to attempt to get a score in the half-court. At any time the post players could use the passers as outlets to relieve pressure, get themselves unstuck, or swing the basketball.
2/2 High, Low -
On the offensive side of the ball, I am trying to get out backside post player to flash only when a low post entry appears unlikely. On any high-post touch, I want the low-post player looking to seal and the high-post player looking to hit the high/low lob. On any touch to the post, we are trying to score 2/2.
Since we are trying to focus on the defensive side of the ball I want to lock into their responsibilities.
When your assignment is in the low post you are 3/4 Fronting with your chin on their shoulder - the goal is to prevent the catch or force it to be caught as far from the basket as possible. When your assignment flashes to the high post you are looking to deny entry with your inside hand and foot forward. If the ball is caught you need to be prepared to defend the dribble drive as well.
We will play the possession out 2/2 and then attempt to get subs into the next rep. I typically let one team get 4-5 reps and then switch from offense to defense. If you want to ramp up the competitiveness of the concept you can attach a scoring system, including points for deflected or stolen post-entry passes as well.
Method #3 -
If part of your philosophy involves trapping the post you could use our third concept to work on that element. In most cases, the post-double is being used against dominant players in the paint, but doubling the post can be an effective strategy to create turnovers just in itself. At the high school level, it is highly unlikely that you encounter a post player who can score and pass effectively. Throwing a double team at a player with his back to the basket can be a great opportunity to create steals on the defensive end.
4/4 Post-Double -
We are going to arrange a 4/4 alignment with one post player and three perimeter players. I typically start this concept by asking the player with the ball to make a wing entry pass and quick entry in the post.
On the Entry Pass:
Once the ball has been entered to the post we are going to bring the double team from the backside. My preference for the double would always come from the backside. I would prefer that we not give up easy kick-out shots on the ball side. We want this double to come aggressively to the inside shoulder with the initial defender shutting off the baseline. On the backside of the defense, we need players to drop into a zone and anticipate where the skip pass might go. In last week's Backside Help post, we introduced the idea of a 4/3 Scramble drill that would be helpful in pairing with this post-double concept.
We want to play this possession out 4/4 and then rotate a few subs into the action. I like the idea of letting the team that scores stay on offense and forcing the defense to execute the concept successfully before getting to play on offense.
Concluding Thoughts -
At the high school level, The Rim is King, and we need to make sure that our defensive philosophy reflects that belief. We need to drill our players on how we plan to reduce dribble drive opportunities or deep post touches in the paint. I don't think we need size to keep the ball from getting entered into the post, but if we don't have size we need to develop an aggressive and physical approach that makes up for what we lack in size.
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