Drills for Handling Traps and Double Teams

Trapped Ball Handler

Set 4

This is the 4th article in my Drill Series for teaching players how to handle pressure in the backcourt.  In Set 2, I covered “1 on 1” Drills and how to get open and past a full court defender.  Set 3 covered passing to open teammates while dribbling against full court pressure.  This article will cover Dribbling and Passing out of Backcourt Traps.

Beating Traps

While continuing to work on Set 1, “The Basic 6 Dribble Moves” and Set 2, “Working 1 on 1″ against a pressing defender, your players also need to learn how to handle Double Team Traps like those used in Run and Jump or Zone Press Defenses.  Set 4 is the next progression in the process where you add 1 to 4 players to the action.  As in previous full court pressure drills, these drills can be run to mid court if Big Man Drills or other activities have utilized the opposite end, or run sideways on a smaller full court.

Drill #5 – 1 vs 2 – Trap Drill  

This drill sets up like Drill #2 (1 on 1 Live Full Court) from a previous article, but another  defender is now added as a Delayed Trapper.  In the first example, the extra defender (X2) starts out as if he is guarding the man taking the ball out of bounds.  He is in a position to execute a “Backside Trap” if all goes well.  (Diagram 1)

The player (1) receiving the inbound pass sets up in the middle or lane line position,  as described in previous articles, posting up his defender.  His job is to catch the inbound pass near the midline of the court and avoid getting pushed to the corner where he could easily be trapped.  His defender (X1) attempts to defect an inbound pass, forcing the offensive player (1) toward the sideline and making it hard for him to get a pass.  Once the ball is in, the defender on the ball (X1) cheats middle and encourages a sideline dribble, trying to keep the ball handler (1) out of the middle of the court.

The second defender (X2) drops back after the inbound pass is made, to almost the line of the ball.  He is there to help influence the dribble to the sideline by helping to plug up the middle.  The drill now becomes a “1 on 2” contest.  The offensive player (1) tries to beat his defender, but as mentioned previously, he should try to cross mid court as near to the center circle as he can.  Defender (X1) wants to get the dribble going to the sideline, then cut the dribbler off as (X2) comes over for a Backside Trap. (Diagram 1)  This is a Delayed Trap, so (X2) must wait until (X1) gets the dribbler going toward the sideline before he makes his move.  The offensive player (1) must use his dribbling moves to beat the two defenders by himself, with no pass options for this drill’s purpose.  He can use his back dribble to create space or a switch dribble to go around the trap or even split the trap.  His goal is to get the ball across the mid court line by avoiding traps, turnovers, and a 10 second count.

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A second situation that I liked to work on was the Delayed Trap from in Front.  (Diagram 2)  In this version, the second defender (X2) was positioned at mid court, as if he was guarding a player stationed along the sideline, but further up court.  Once the ball was passed in to the offensive player (1), his defender (X1) again influenced the dribble to the near sideline.  The Front Trapper (X2) attacked the dribbler as he approached the mid court area.  The offensive man again used his dribbling skills to avoid the trap and get across the mid court line safely.  Because there are no other teammates involved, this drill tested the ball handler to see if he indeed could handle two defenders on his own.

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I found it important to spend some time inbounding the ball on the left side of the court with this drill too.  That way, offensive players had to use their left hand to start out and they became more versatile in handling pressure anywhere on the court.  Some players even preferred starting on the left because they could back dribble and switch to their stronger hand while breaking the trap.  We usually practiced 2/3 of our time on the right side and 1/3 on the left, since most attacks seemed to go right side due to right handed favoring dribblers.

Drill #6 – 3 on 3 – Trap Drill

The next progression in learning to handle full court pressure adds three more players into the action.  A third offensive player (3) is added to the sideline area, around mid court, and a defender (X3) is assigned to him.  The second defender (X2) pressures the man out of bounds, then drops back after the pass is made.  (Diagram 3) 

Defenders still influence the dribbler up the sideline and try to trap him.  If the dribbler goes by his defender on the sideline, the new third defender (X3) is there to slow him down and possibly trap the ball along with his recovering defender (X1).   A special rule we use just for this drill is that the mid court offensive player (3) can only move 2 steps maximum during the action.  His defender (X3) has to prevent a release pass to his man (3) before gambling on a front trap of the dribbler.

The offensive inlet man (1) follows the same attack procedure as in the “1 on 2″ Drill earlier.  But he will now have release pass options to his teammate (3) on the mid court sideline (Diagram 4) and to his teammate (2) who is allowed to go anywhere in the middle of the court, from baseline to the mid court circle.  Again, as in the earlier drills, all dribblers will be trying to go “body to body” on their defender, while avoiding traps, looking for open teammates, and possibly dribbling the ball up the middle themselves.  This drill can continue with an attack of the basket at the opposite end or stop around mid court if the far end is already in use.  It makes a nice “3 on 3” Press Defense and Press Offense Drill when used this way.

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These two drills prepare players, especially point guards, to handle full court pressure and attack body to body so they can draw backcourt fouls.  Also, players will learn to break traps, and realize the importance of getting to the middle of the court while avoiding sidelines.  The more often players get to practice in these drills, the better they will be against full court pressure when it happens in a game.

The next drill in the progression would involve all 5 players on the defense and offense. (Set 5 – “5 on 5” Full Court)  To be successful against pressing defenses, your team cannot be intimidated by the pressure and forced into doing things they don’t really want to do.  By using the drills in Sets 1-4, along with plenty of “5 on 5” during the season, players will be much better prepared to control their own destiny in pressure situations.

Key Teaching Points:

  1. Rotate through Drills #1 through #6 in Sets 1-4 during the entire season.  Every week you should use at least two of the drills to keep your players ready for full court pressure in games.

2. You can and should rotate all players through these drills from time to time, but make sure your primary ball handers (point guards) get the most repetitions.  They will face the most pressure and opportunities in games, so make sure they know what to do.

3. Your full court Man to Man and Zone Trapping Defenses can also improve from using these drills.  Make sure the defense works just as hard to stop the offense as the offense is working to defeat the defense.  

4. Drills #5 and #6 prepare ball handlers to read the first couple of options in beating a “Man to Man, Run and Jump” type press.  After a trap, attacking the weak side of the court is covered in another Blog Article entitled: “Attacking the Run and Jump Press.”

For more on handling Full Court Pressure, you can also see Chapter 13, “Run Over the Full Court Press” in Coach Battenberg’s book, YOU CAN RUN WITH ANYONE.  To order a copy:





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