Philosophy of the Opening Tip Play
Because I generally had taller players in my programs, especially at my High Schools, I looked for ways to control the tip and score right away when possible. Controlling the tip means you first have to find a player who can get up and win it. The taller player does not always win the tip. A quicker jumper beats a taller player quite often. With that in mind, the first part of our Tip Play was to be quick to the ball and get there first. I would tell my best, big jumper that his job was to get up early, as soon as it looked like the referee was about to toss the ball. Get up first and you win the tip almost every time. And if our center jumper went too early, the referee would usually just call for a re-jump and we got another chance anyways.
We did learn to control a very high percentage of all jump ball situations, so I eventually came up with three Tip Plays that I used through the years. Sometimes we were so effective with them that opposing Coaches would have their four defenders all stand back in their defensive end, so we wouldn’t score so quickly and easily. When that happened, we just tipped back and went right to our Early Offense or a Set Play. But if they challenged us with a regular line up on the opening tip, we were always ready.
Tip Play #1 – Tip Forward
Our best jumper (5) was in the circle, as usual. The next biggest player, who had to be tough at getting tipped balls, was in the (4) spot with his back to our basket. The wings (2) and (3) were on the sides of the circle, seeking to draw attention. Our point guard (1) was back to defend our defensive basket in case we lost the tip.
The ball was tipped by (5) to (4) on the side away from his immediate defender. As the ball went up for the tip, (2) and (3) took off wide toward our offensive end. (Diagram 1 Below)
When (4) got possession, he turned and looked in the easiest direction for a wing cutting toward our basket. This would often result in a dunk, a lay up, or a pass to the opposite wing for an open layup or dunk. (Diagram 2 Below) The goal was for (2) and (3) to beat their defenders to our basket and out number the opponent’s safety.
If the (2) and (3) were not able to get an inside opportunity, they would wait on the wings for the (4) and (5) to come rumbling down the lane. This often led to a post up opportunity for one of our Bigs.
Tip Play #2 – Spread
This play worked the same as the first one, only we spread our wings out wide, near the sidelines. This often confused the opponents and left our players open for easy scores. Most teams line up with you on the circle, but what will they do if you spread two players out wide? Will they stay on the circle? Go out part way to cover a sideline player? Or just scratch their heads and do a little of both? The Spread actually made it easier for us to get the tip to (4) usually, because the circle was less crowded. The (4) would then just turn to a side and look for a teammate, just like he did in the regular Tip Play #1. (Diagram 1 Below)
Sometimes, our center jumper (5) would see the confusion of the opponents as they lined up. If he noticed an obvious open sideline, he would signal that teammate and tip the ball to the open area for a wing to get it. (Diagram 2 Below) Again, this would lead to the same possible 2 vs 1 attack, but eliminated the tip and pass through the (4) man.
Tip Play #3 – Back Tip Delay
The third Tip Play I did not use very often, but it was actually my favorite. It came in handy for some opponents who thought they would stop our Spread with a tighter match up on our wings. I also used it the second time through league if I thought the opponents would be geared up to stop our regular tip forward.
This play was specifically designed for the center jumper to score on a dunk or post up down low. The Wings can line up on the circle or in a Spread formation, it doesn’t matter. The play started with a tip back to our point guard (1). Safety Tip, right? At least that is what we hoped the opponents were thinking. (Diagram 1 Below)
After (1) got possession, the (2) and (3) ran wide to their offensive wing areas. This was designed to spread the defense and free up our key area. (Diagram 2 below)
After the tip back, our (4) back-screened the opponent’s center jumper (X5) as our (5) took off for the basket. (Diagram 3 Below) This one worked really well from the spread set, especially when the wings were closely defended. If the safety (X1) relaxed due to the back tip, and moved up to find his man dribbling toward him, that’s when a pass from (1) to (5) over the top would be wide open. The (1) dribbled toward our basket as he watched the defense and decided if he could lob the ball ahead to (5). The “surprise” is what makes this play work. That and the fact that we had our Bigs running the middle of the floor on every fast break, so they were use to gathering in a lob over the top of the defense.
If the pass from (1) over the top to (5) was not open, the (1) could pitch the ball ahead to either wing and the Big would post up inside. Since (5’s) defender is trailing the play, the baseline would often be open for a quick move to the basket. (Diagram 4 Below)
Tip Plays are an exciting and fun way to start any game. When your team can open the contest by scoring within 5 seconds, it sets the tone right away. Your team has come to play and play fast and hard. Work on getting your quickest leaper to jump just a little early so you get most of the tips. Have a Tip Play or two that you can use to start every game. It doesn’t take much time to put these in and they will add a little something extra to your offensive attack. That something extra might just be the two points that eventually wins the game for you.
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