One of the questions I am often asked is, “How do you get the guards to pass to the post players?” Besides saying, “Pass the ball to the Post,” I do have a few other tricks up my sleeve, or as coaches like to say, “Drills.” But I also think it is important to explain and sell the philosophy of an inside-out attack to all the players as you are drilling them. Let them know that a pass to the inside collapses the defense, thus creating space for cuts and open 3’s. Show them how a good post player can score high percentage shots and draw fouls. Remind them that a pass inside can always be passed back outside. But a coach must also develop post players that can catch and make plays without turning the ball over or missing a high percentage of their shots.
An important part of teaching guards to pass to the post is developing their confidence in what the post can do with his possessions.
- Can he catch a pass without fumbling it away?
- Can he make a good move and create a good scoring opportunity?
- Will he find open cutters or outside shooters when he doesn’t have a good shot?
Throwing the ball inside to a player who turns it over, shoots a poor shot, or never looks to find teammates is not the way to build confidence in the Inside-Out Philosophy of feeding a post player.
One of my strong considerations before asking perimeter players to pass to post players is the ability of those post players to receive passes and make good decisions. As their coach, I can make a difference in post players’ abilities as well as perimeter players’ passing choices. Teaching “Bigs” to seal off defenders, present good targets, and then go get passes is part of that process. Teaching those same “Bigs” how to score with high percentage shots and to make good shot selection choices is also my job. Getting those “Bigs” to pass to cutters and throw the ball back outside when they don’t have great scoring opportunities is the final step. When the post players make good plays and good decisions, it is much easier to get perimeter players to feed them the ball with confidence.
Most perimeter players are programmed at an early age to look for a shot or drive opportunity for themselves when they get possession of the ball. Getting them to look for any sized player in the low post area is a concept that needs to be taught and reinforced before it will ever become a habit. That’s where coaching and drills make a big difference. The fundamental known as “Triple Threat” is helpful in getting all players in position to make good decisions when receiving a pass. When a player on the perimeter catches a pass, he should immediately face the basket and read his three options. Some players know what Triple Threat means, but they have never been taught the right order of visual progressions. In fact, most are taught in reverse order of what should be done through training. 1. Pass, 2. Drive, 3. Shoot is the correct, but quick sequence that perimeter players should always “think” when gaining possession of the ball. The “shoot first” mentality makes no sense in training perimeter players when someone is wide open under the basket. Players can be trained to “scan” the vision field as they face the basket to see all three options. Through experience and practice, the decision making time can be shortened and a good all-around player will be developed.
Drill 1: “2 on 2” Feed the Post
Drills I like to use often early in the season are “2 on 0″ Feed the Post with no defenders (See Diagram 1), followed by “2 on 2″ Feed the Post using defenders (See Diagram 2). These drills involve perimeter players on the wing and “Bigs” at the low post area. The defender on the wing challenges the passer aggressively, but the low post defender plays behind his man and allows the pass into the Post. The post man must have a wide base, knees bent, both hands up and ready to receive a pass. I teach the pass up high where the post man can see it better and not down at his feet by way of a bounce pass. The wing must be a good pass faker to get the ball by his defender, which is the challenge of this drill to start out. Once the ball has been entered into the Post, the action is “live” and both defenders play straight up and hard. The offensive post man can make a quick move if he has the opportunity. The offensive wing looks at his defender to see which way he turns to see the ball. If the defender turns up, the offensive wing cuts to the baseline. (Diagram 1) If the defender turns toward the baseline, the wing cuts over the top looking for a return pass. (Diagram 2) It is important to run this drill equally on both sides of the court. I usually go 3 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the opposite side to allow players to get comfortable attacking from both sides of the floor.
Drill 2: “3 on 3” Feed the Post
A more advanced drill that I introduce later in the training season is called “3 on 3″ Feed the Post. A third offensive player and defender are added to the weak side. (See Diagram 3) The purpose of this drill is to give the post man another option besides the cutter or himself. We are working on the inside/outside attack using the possibility of a skip pass to the weak side player. Once the ball is skipped, the post should make a move to get open by crossing the key and sitting on his defender, hands up and ready to receive a pass. This gives the weak side player a chance to see if the post is open or if there is an open 3-pointer for himself. Obviously, we want the ball to go inside when the Post is open. If a pass goes inside, the passer checks his defender and cuts to his blind side just as the first passer (3) did. (See Diagram 4)
These two drills not only teach the wings to pass inside, but have the added feature of teaching them to read their defender and move after a pass is made inside. I start the preseason using the first drill every other day. Then, after the players seem to have the fundamentals down, I add the second drill, 3 on 3. I like to do each drill at least once a week during the regular game season to keep players thinking about passing to the post and for posts to pass back out or to cutters.
Drills 3 & 4: “5 on 5” Using the Post
The other two drills that I use to encourage passing to the post are usually only done in pre season practices. They are 5 on 5 drills with work on the half court offense. Drill 3 has the rule that no one can shoot the ball until a post man has received a pass. Drill 4 is similar only it has the added rule that the post man cannot shoot the ball. Thus, in Drill 3, the post gets the ball and can score or pass it to a cutter or back outside. But in Drill 4, the post has to get a pass and he cannot shoot at all, no matter how many possessions he gets. The Big has to find his teammates who are working to get open after he touches the ball. Early in the pre season, I will do these two drills even when a half court offense has not even been introduced. The idea is to get players to pass to the post and get good shots in a freelance situation.
Besides drilling in “2 on 2” and “3 on 3” situations, a Coach must also control the scrimmage play in practice. When a player passes too quickly or without seeing an open post player, play must be stopped and the situation reviewed and corrected. A turnover caused by a poor pass to the post must also be reviewed on the spot and corrected in a scrimmage situation. Any deviation from the fundamentals taught in drills must be reviewed and corrected if a Coach expects his team to successfully use the Post as a point of attack in games. You want no turnovers from bounce passes or forced entry passes, and no poor shot attempts. These are goals for your offense that can make your team more efficient and help you win more games.
Key Teaching Points:
1. Train your “Bigs” to be reliable pass receivers.
2. Teach perimeter players to look inside for open teammates.
3. Work with “Bigs” to shoot only high percentage shots.
4. Train passers to the Post to look to cut to the blind side of a defender.
5. Teach Post men not to force shots, but rather to look for open teammates.
6. Use 2 on 2, 3 on 3, and 5 on 5 drills to train Inside/Out Action early in preseason.
For more on the Development of Big Men and Post Play, check out my my book Power Post Play at http://coachbattenberg.net/books.htm