Basketball Tips – Introduction to Defence

Continuing in our series on playing the game – more tips from Lindsay Gaze and Betterbasketball –

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The era when a team expected to win with offence alone has passed. The only way to win consistently is to play alert, restricting defence. Defence is the great equaliser, the instrument that enables the underdog to rise to the heights against athletically superior opponents. It is the chief characteristic of the champion and the trademark of the underdog. Defence wins championships.

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If a player is sound defensively he can contribute to the team effort by containing his man. He must work conscientiously all the time and put a maximum effort into the defensive drills, which must be practiced regularly.

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More coaches these days spend more time working on defence than ever before and a greater variety of defences are used to combat improving offensive skills and team tactics. Teams may vary tactics from passive and conservative to aggressive and pressing. Young junior teams often choose to retreat close to the basket with only modest pressure on the ball-handler, relying on opponents not to shoot a high percentage. Others may choose to extend their defence well over the centreline to force errors or to disrupt the opposition’s offence.

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Before any team can use complex tactics to upset their opponents they must remember that a good team defence will depend on two qualities: the mental and the physical. Players must have a firm desire to play defence, they must concentrate totally and believe that saving a basket is just as rewarding as scoring a basket. Each player must be convinced of his ability to contain his man, to pressure him into making mistakes and to harass him to the point of desperation throughout the entire game. Many games are won when a sound defence forces opponents into errors that lead to steals and morale-boosting easy baskets.

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There are two basic defensive tactics: man-to-man and zone. In man-to-man defence each player sticks to his man, aiming to prevent him receiving a pass or harassing him continually if he has the ball. It may be desirable in certain man-to-man situations to switch opponents, particularly when the offence sets a screen. This requires good stance and positioning as well as good communication between the players.

With a zone defence each player is responsible for defending a particular area of the court. A zone defence usually allows the taller players to defend the area close to the basket and quicker players to defend around the perimeter.

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My advice to coaches of young teams is to stick with man-to-man defence until their players are thoroughly familiar with the execution of the defensive fundamentals. Many young teams get away with using zone defences because their opposition lacks skill and the ability to create easy scoring opportunities. But when they progress to tougher competition they often find their lack of defensive fundamentals will prevent them from improving.

One-on-one defensive drills should be run from all positions on the court: the forward spots on the wings, the point at the top of the keyway, the low and high posts and full court. Defensive drills are very physically demanding, but there are big rewards for those who work at them.

Source: betterbasketball.com.au

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Basketball Tips – Hook Shot

Since the advent of the jump shot fewer players are spending more time on developing the hook shot. But the hook shot is still and effective shot when taken close to the basket. Whilst it is usually a favourite weapon of the taller players all players should work on the skill so they can take full advantage of opportunities which otherwise might be wasted. A smaller player will often succeed with a hook shot, whereas a jump shot is more easily blocked by a taller opponent.

Perhaps the most famous exponent of the hook shot was Kareem Abdul Jabbar who, at over 217cm tall dominated the sport through his long career playing with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA after winning three NCAA championships with UCLA. Kareem exploited the NBA rule that prohibited the use of zone defenses and in one on one situations became almost unstoppable using what commonly became known as “the sky hook” No player has taken over the mantel of hook shot specialist since Kareem retired although there are many players at all levels of the sport still using the hook shot effectively.

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In cases where a team is lucky enough to have a tall player who is being covered by a smaller opponent, it is a worthwhile tactic to set up the tall player close to the basket and let him work on his hook shot. If he is able to convert a high percentage, which he should if defended one on one, then you have a valuable asset. However it is more likely that the opposing team will call for defensive help against the tall player using double teaming tactics. This should open up opportunities for passes to team-mates and uncontested perimeter shots.

When making the hook shot the object is to receive the ball as close as possible to the basket and then keep the body between the ball and the defender. If the shot is taken with the right hand the shooter jumps off his left foot and keeps the ball close to the body with his elbow bent as he is jumping. The balance hand is used to protect the ball but will be released from the ball before it gets to about head height. Although the shot is normally commenced with the player’s back to the basket you should be facing the ring at the completion of the shot and upon landing be ready to follow the shot for a possible rebound. The hook shot may also be used following an offensive rebound. After recovering the ball from a rebound the player makes a strong cross-over step turning his back to the defender and then pivoting toward the basket while protecting the ball for the hook shot.

Source: betterbasketball.com.au

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Basketball Tips – Set Shot

The first step in developing good shooting technique is to stand close to the basket about one metre from the back-board just slightly to one side of the ring. Set the ball in front of the face about level with the chin. For this basic shot the ball should rest in your right hand if you are right hand shooter and left hand if you are a left handed shooter.

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The other and is used merely to balance the ball and is placed at the side of the ball. The wrist of the shooting hand is flexed so the back of the hand is at a right angle to the forearm which should be in a vertical position, thus leaving the ball directly above the elbow. The knees should be slightly flexed with the right foot slightly in front of the other. The slight turn of the body will allow you to move the forearm, elbow and wrist in the same vertical plane and will help you keep your elbow close to your body.

Once you are in the set position the only movement prior to commencing the shot will be the knees bending slightly to establish a rhythm for the shot. The ball remains still and as the knees are straightened the elbow is raised with the wrist remaining flexed until the arm is fully extended toward the ring. At the top of the extension of the arm the wrist is snapped as the hand moves from its right angle position to the forearm to pointing downwards looking like what we call a “goose’s neck”. The ball should bounce softly off the backboard and fall to the bottom of the net. The “target” for the shooter in this position would normally be just inside the top right hand corner of the rectangle painted above the ring.

Source: betterbasketball.com.au

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The Jump Shot

When a player is a strong driver and can advance the ball quickly up the court defenders will tend to retreat away from the driver to prevent him from going all the way to the basket for an easy lay-up. The counter move for the offensive player is the jump shot. In recent years the jump shot has become the most potent weapon for the offense. Players have extended their effective range to well beyond the three point line making it even more difficult for the defense to counter the offensive strategies.

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When learning the jump shot remember to practice within comfortable range of the basket. And then gradually increase the range only after high percentage accuracy is achieved from the shorter distance. Once again it is very important that the correct footwork is used. It makes no difference if you are a left handed shooter or right handed the player must stop on the foot opposite to the dribbling hand. It is desirable to commence this shooting drill standing close to the basket as demonstrated for the set shot, but this time the pivot foot stays on the floor while the other steps into it to gather momentum for a jump. The player carries the ball up to the crown line of the head as he is jumping and then at the height of the jump releases the ball with one hand for the shot. The drill is repeated from both sides of the basket using the foot closest to the centre of the court as the pivot foot.

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After the player is able to make a high percentage of shots from close to the basket the drill is repeated from close to the free throw line except this time the player starts with a dribble. Regardless whether the player is right handed or left handed the footwork will be the same. Start close to the edge of the free throw line facing the basket with feet about shoulder width apart. The object is to take just one dribbler as the right foot hits the floor the ball hits the floor. Take possession of the ball as the left foot hits the floor then bring the right foot back to about shoulder width apart coming to a quick stop. The player should remain in a crouched position with the knees well bent and the back almost straight up. The eyes should be focused on the “target” all through the routine and after coming to a quick stop jump vertically releasing the ball with one hand at the height of the jump. In the same way as practiced close to the basket, the ball is raised to about the crown line of the head quickly during the jump. When making the dribble the player should be moving laterally to get used to squaring off to the basket with shoulders virtually parallel to the baseline at the point of release. Do not try to jump too high as this might unbalance the shot and when trying to jump too high the player is likely to raise the ball too high above his head and therefore reduce his effective shooting range.

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The drill is repeated from the other side of the keyway starting the dribble with the ball hitting the floor at the same time as the left foot hits the floor and this time stopping on the right foot for the quick jump shot. When the player is able to execute the shot after taking one dribble in either direction and stopping on the correct foot, it is then time to use more than one dribble. The emphasis is on always stopping on the inside foot, that is the foot closest to the center of the court, coming to a quick stop after squaring off to the basket, making a comfortable but aggressive vertical jump and releasing the ball with one hand at the height of the jump. Common mistakes are releasing the ball after the player has reached the height of his jump, leaving the non shooting hand on the ball for too long thus making the shot almost a two handed shot, releasing the ball too early and shooting off the wrong foot. The work spent on a young player getting the technique right in the early stages will pay good dividends for the rest of his basketball career.

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The Layup

More in our series on improving your game. We continue with Shooting and concentrate on  “The Layup”

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The lay-up shot is the easiest shot in the game to take and yet many players tend to make it more difficult than it should be. Beginning players will improve quickly if in the initial stages care is taken using correct footwork and shooting technique. The object of the lay-up shot is to get as close to the basket as possible before releasing the ball and then laying the ball softly off the backboard. The footwork and timing for the jump is important while the release of the ball is the same as explained for the set shot.

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Start at a point about 1m. outside the edge of the free throw line facing the basket with both feet about shoulder width apart. The object of the drill is to ensure the shot is taken using the correct footwork and timing.. The player should make just one bounce (dribble) of the ball while taking only three steps. As the player takes the first step with his left foot he bounces the ball so that the ball hits the floor at the same time as the left foot hits the floor. The player takes possession of the ball as the right foot hits the floor then jumps off the left foot to take the shot. The description is for a right handed shooter and the instructions are reversed for a left handed shooter. The main point of emphasis is the right handed shooter should jump of the left foot and a left handed shooter should jump off the right foot.

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Usually it helps if the young player is instructed to call out “left, right, left” as he works at the drill and exaggerates the way he “bangs” his feet into the floor while making his three steps. For some players it may seem a little embarrassing to exaggerate the steps and to call out the steps, but it helps the rapid learning process and it can be a bit of fun as well. The drill is repeated from both sides of the keyway, then after players are able to use the correct footwork the starting point can be beyond the three point line and more than one dribble is used. The emphasis remains that the players must shoot off the correct foot.

Source: betterbasketball.com.au

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Shooting Tips

Shooting can be just awesome…

However if you’re doing this in real time here’s some handy tips

Since a team must score to win, shooting is undoubtedly an important fundamental of the game. If there is a secret to good shooting it is countless hours of practice and more practice. Why do coaches love to see a goal on the side of the garage or on a pole in the back yard? It is because such goals give opportunities for more hours and hours of practice. Probably more shooters have been made in the back yard than anywhere else.

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The old expression of “practice makes perfect” is not entirely correct. What is a more appropriate expression is “perfect practice makes perfect” The most important point is to practise using correct technique. Once sound technique has been established, practise within comfortable range of the basket and then gradually increase the distance. Many players make the mistake of practising long range shots before being able to make a high percentage of shots close to the basket. Straining to make the range will lead to poor technique and little progress.

When I was young, I had to learn the fundamentals of basketball. You can have all the physical ability in the world, but you still have to know the fundamentals.
Michael Jordan

Coaches may find it relatively easy to teach technique, but it is much more difficult to teach “touch”. Try to make the shot “soft” no matter what the range. You should develop the feeling that you are placing the ball into the ring and not just shooting at it. I often suggest that the player tries to imagine the ring is covered with a thin sheet of glass and he should place the ball on the thin sheet of glass without breaking it.

Coaches can instruct on technique but it is difficult to teach touch. One thing in common between great shoot is that each shot looks the same no matter how far out it might be. This comes from using good technique, but it also shows the players have good touch. When a player with good touch shoots the ball it will go through the net with a smooth swish whether it was a layup or long range jump shot.

There is a different preparation leading up to each shot but the final release of the ball, with the wrist snapping and the index and second finger last to leave the ball, is the same. Take care how it feels as you release the ball so that you can develop the fine accuracy which is necessary for success.

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Another point of emphasis is where and the player should determine his shooting target. Players often hesitate when asked about their aim when they are shooting. This suggests they have not made a habit of creating a precise target when shooting. Some may aim at the front of the rim with the intention of shooting just over it while others might aim for the back of the rim. I don’t agree with either of these responses but say, “If you aim at a particular target you may hit it” I prefer to aim at the centre of the ring. Unfortunately may players aim in the general direction of the ring without being precise about the target so high percentage and consistent shooting will be rare.

The basic shots in basketball are the lay-up, the set shot, the jump shot and the hook shot. There are others of course, including the dunk shot, the alley-oop shot, the jump hook shot and reverse layup, but now we are only going to concentrate on the basic shots.

Source: betterbasketball.com.au

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Building an Offence – Combatting a Press

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.

East-Central Girl's Basketball

East-Central Girl’s Basketball

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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

Source: betterbasketball.com.au

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