The rules that requires the ball to be advance over the centre-line within eight seconds after gaining possession is one many coaches aim to exploit by using full court pressing defences.
Teams un-prepared to combat the pressure may suffer more turnovers, violations, including not getting the ball across half court in time and disruption of their team offence.
When coaches apply pressing defences, they may use man to man zone traps, or combinations of both. They may set up in various formations with the most common being 2-2-1, 1-2-1-1, or 1-2-2. In any case it is unlikely teams will combat the defences successfully if they try to use different methods for each different type of defence they face.
Some basic rules to consider when confronted by pressing defences are;
- Select one player as the designated in-bounder of the ball.
- Avoid receiving the ball close to the baseline, or close to the side-line.
- After receiving the inbounds pass look to pass before dribbling.
- Do not hesitate to pass, provided the receiver has made a good lead.
- After making the inbounds pass the player should take two steps inside the court and pause a moment before cutting to his next position. He may have to receive a return pass to avoid an aggressive double by the opposition.
- If a pass to a player further down the court is not available swing the ball from one side of the court to the other quickly.
- If you are going to dribble the ball it must be a powerful penetrating drive up the court and not across the court.
As described in the examples of transition offence we always designate the feeder as the player to take the ball out of bounds from the baseline after the opponent has scored. The 4 man takes up a position one metre from the sideline and two metres below the centreline. (5) sets up in a similar position on the right side of the court. 2 and 3 set up in tandem at the top of the keyway.
2 sets a screen for 3 or makes a sharp lead to receive the ball as close to the free throw line extended. If 2 receives the ball he looks to pass to 3 who holds his ground until he receives the pass. If 2 is unable to pass to 3 he looks to pass to 5, but if this is also not available he then looks to pass back to 1.
After 1 receives the ball, 3 leads to a position close to the free throw line extended and looks to see if he can pass to 4. If this pass is not available 3 looks to pass to 2 who “circled” behind the defenders and taken a position in the middle area of the court. At the same time 1 circles wide around any defenders. At this point if no pass is available it must be assumed all players are being defended man to man so 3 should be able to make a penetrating drive up the court in a one on one situation.
It is more common for 3 to make a pass to 4 or 2 with either being likely to make a penetrating drive up the court. In many cases the defence may set up in a 2-2-1 formation without applying pressure on the in-bounds pass, or the first receiver. In this case it is important the player who receives the first pass should not dribble the ball but look to pass to (4) or (5) depending on which side of the court the first pass is made. If this pass is not available then look to pass to the other guard who makes a circle cut behind the front line of the defence.
It is a common rule for the defence to apply a double team on the ball-handler as soon as he starts to dribble. If this happens the ball-handler must be quick to release the ball and of course his team mates must provide good passing angles to ensure protection of the ball. If a pass is made inside the front line of the defence, then this usually provides an opportunity for another quick pass to 4 or 5 breaking up the court. If the pass cannot be made inside the front line of the defence then the next pass will be back to 1 who looks to 2 or 5 depending on how the defence adjusts.
The rule given to both 4 and 5 is: They must hold their positions close to the centreline until after the second pass (not counting the inbounds pass) or if any player starts a dribble.
It cannot be emphasised enough that the ball-handler must not start a dribble unless it is a hard penetrating drive. Then 4 and 5 should be creating good targets in these situations and the chance for an easy basket. If the ball-handler starts a “soft” dribble it creates an ideal double teaming pressure defensive situation and makes it much more difficult to execute a safe pass or maintain composure and discipline in the offence.
After two passes the offence should have forced the defence to make commitments and opened up new passing angles to advance the ball.
It is not uncommon for well drilled teams to advance the ball into transition offence or half court offence without any dribbling at all. Top level European teams do this very well while teams in the United States and Asia tend to advance the ball almost exclusively by having the best ball handler drive the ball aggressively up the court. My preference has been to use both methods within understandable and achievable rules for players of all abilities.