What Makes a Good OB Play?
There are so many great Out of Bounds Plays run by coaches now-a-days, that it amazes me when I watch teams that don’t have at least one good OB Play to use. While some teams get lob-dunks or layups from under the basket, others seem to always throw the ball toward the backcourt and start the attack from there. When your team has the ball out of bounds on your end of the court, it should be a scoring opportunity. To get the most out of your offense, you need to find ways to score in these situations too.
A good underneath OB Play has at least four options for the inbound passer to read. Being a Post Oriented Coach, I like the first two to be a sequential look at two different inside scoring opportunities. The third look should be to a shooter spotted up in his favorite location, and finally the fourth, a safety release pass as a last resort. With the ball already located underneath the basket, it only stands to reason that the first option should be for an inside shot. If the defense is so good or so packed into the key that a pass cannot successfully be thrown inside, then a pass to an open, outside shooter is the logical next choice.
A big key to a successful OB Play is having a good passer who takes the ball out for your team. He should be a good pass faker, a good situation reader, and a player who does not rattle easily. He must not be afraid to take advantage of mismatches or fear throwing a surprise entry from time to time. It helps if he has the size to see over defenders and find open teammates, but not completely necessary. Often, a point guard is the player who best fits the job requirement and he might be the shortest player on the floor.
Zone or Man Defense?
Quite often, coaches will have their teams switch to a Zone Defense on out of bounds situations, even though they play Man to Man in the half court. Evidently, their half court man defense isn’t good enough to stop OB plays, or so they think; therefore, they try to eliminate the problem by zoning. Having a couple of good Zone Out of Bounds Plays besides Man to Man Plays is a must for teams too. Again, having a couple of looks to score inside before passing outside is your best strategy versus Zones. But what about your first OB play of the game, when you aren’t sure if the opponent will Man or Zone? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a good play that works against a Man or Zone Defense and eliminate the problem? I have one and I almost always use it to start a game. It’s fairly simple to run, can be used at any level, and gets an easy score quite often. I ran it with college teams, high school teams, and even my son’s 6th grade team. It works at any level and for any defense. Simple, yet effective.
I have always called my favorite OB play #5 because we line up with all 5 players in a vertical, straight line along the side of the free throw lane. The call of #5 serves as a reminder to my players that they should line up five in a row. To our opponents, #5 sounds like we have at least 5 out of bounds plays when in fact, we might only have one or two; especially early in the season. This play meets my criteria of starting with two looks inside, then a possible 3-attempt for a good shooter, and finally, a safety release pass out to mid court which leads to our half court offense.
I like having the “3” man take the ball out mainly because I have other plays for him later. There have been seasons when I pick the “1” to take it out, but not often. Whoever does take it out must be patient and look really hard for the “4” and “5” before throwing it outside to the “2” or “1”. The “2” should be the best 3-point shooter and the “5” the most athletic Big Man. The play is actually for the “5” man, so he needs to “get it” and finish. On the slap of the ball, “4” steps in, under the basket, crossing to the other side and loudly asks for the ball several times. (Diagram 1) Even if he is covered, he MUST draw allot of attention to himself. If he is open, he should get the pass and score immediately inside. If covered, he moves across and outside the lane on the opposite side. The “2” quickly moves to the corner and spots up, hands ready, for a potential corner 3. The “5” must patiently wait for the lane to clear as the defenders follow “4” and “2” out of that area. The “1” should also delay and then set a screen on “5’s” defender if it is a Man to Man Defense. If it is a Zone, “1” finds someone in the middle of the key and screens him. (Diagram 2) Now the “5” heads down the lane to the open area and looks for a pass (usually a lob over “3’s” defender) and the open dunk or layup. If “5” is not open, “1” heads toward mid court after “5” comes off of his screen. (Diagram 3) If the safety pass goes to “1”, he can dribble toward the weak side and look for a weak side Post Entry or 3 in the corner. (Diagram 4)
In a perfect world, I like to run this play three times and have the “4” score inside first, then the “5” because the defense overplays “4”, and finally “2” with a 3-pointer from the corner. When this play is executed correctly, you may not even need any other OB Plays in the course of a game. I always have others besides #5, of course. But just like half court offense, I add more OB Plays as the season progresses. I have had as many as six, including extras specifically for zone or man defenses.
Scouting opponents or studying college games on TV are great ways to find excellent OB Plays. You can choose to copy a play you have already seen, or use something you have observed as an inspiration to create your own play. Scoring quickly and easily on out of bound situations is a great way to build confidence in your offense. It establishes that your team is in control and does not fear any opponent’s defense, Man or Zone. Don’t be satisfied just getting the ball safely inbounds. Come up with ways to score in these situations and strike fear into the heart of your opponents.
Key Teaching Points:
1. This play works well at any age level, elementary school to college. I have used it at all levels with great success.
2. The (5) must start high, very high, up on the 3-point line, and then patiently wait until the lane opens before moving to the ball.
3. The “throw in” player must be patient and look for all options in order: (4), (5), (2), (1). He cannot miss a wide open option by failing to look for it.