Basketball Press Break: How to Inbound vs. Full-Court Pressure Defense

I appreciate that there are many ways to do the right thing in coaching basketball. However, when it comes to press break, and more specifically how to inbound the ball vs. full-court man-to-man pressure defense, I do feel there is one wrong way. Passing the ball inbound directly to the ball side corner creates a disadvantage for an offense.

I can say this with confidence because any full-court pressure man-to-man system I have ever learned about wants the offense to inbound directly to the ball side corner. When thinking about offense, I always reflect on what the defense wants me to do, and how I can counter their strength. There is no better example than passing the ball inbound vs. full-court pressure defense in a place other than the ball side corner.

There is an easy solution. When trying to pass the ball inbound vs. full-court pressure defense, try to pass the ball inbound to the weak side of the floor first.

Press Break

Why? A full-court pressure defense is loaded to the ball side. A direct entry to the ball side plays into the strength of the full-court pressure defense. An inbound pass to the weak side can counter the ball side strength of the full-court pressure. The inbound pass does not actually have to get passed into the weak side to make this strategy effective. The threat of a weak side inbound pass entry can cause the defense to distort to cover the weak side action. If the defense shifts to take away the weak side, than more space for a safe inbound pass to the ball side is created.

A ball side entry vs. full-court pressure is effective

  1. If the ball is passed inbound with space to make it easy to pass out of a quick trap.
  2. If the ball is passed inbound above the free throw line to force a longer defensive rotation to trap the first pass entry.

Running initial press entry actions to the weak side of the floor are not the only ideas that can help combat full-court pressure defense. Another effective strategy is to step the inbound passer behind the inbound pass.

Press Break Entry

A final strategy to help inbound the ball vs. full-court pressure is to inbound with an effective ball handler. There is no rule that a forward must inbound the ball, although if you do have a forward who can handle the ball effectively it does make breaking pressure easier. Ideally you choose a player could bring the break one-on-one pressure vs. any match-up, and a player who can pass inbound competently. 

Tips for the Player Taking the Ball Out-of-Bounds

Many of the same Passing Tips for the Basketball Inbound Passer apply to the player taking the ball out-of-bounds vs. pressure defense but here are some other tips.

  1. Read Advantage and Disadvantage – If your team is set up quickly on a live ball situation, and the defense is not, inbound quickly. If the your team is disorganized, and/or the defense is organized quickly, walk to the ball to allow your team to organize in press entry formations.
  2. Clear the Backboard to Pass the Ball Inbound – Never inbound the ball directly behind the backboard. It limits the deep pass option, and takes away spacing for an inbound pass to the weak side of the floor.
  3. Position Deeper than the Baseline – Whether it is a live ball or dead ball inbound situation, the playing taking the ball out-of-bounds should position themselves deeper than the baseline. This gives them space to take a step forward without stepping inbound. Remember to be proactive and take a position where you want, and not where the official positions you.

Tips for the Player Catching the Inbound Pass

The simple rule is that one player is not pressure. If we have a competent ball handler we want them to attack the one-on-one full-court match-up. If an additional player comes to trap than the goal is to advance the ball off the pass as quickly as possible to create an advantageous situation. In this case we want the ball handler to “welcome the trap” and not avoid it. This creates an advantage. When there is a quick trap, the player receiving the inbound pass can use a progression of reads to safely advance the basketball.

Inbound Receiver Tips

When deciding your philosophy of getting the ball inbound vs. pressure keep in mind why your opponent is pressing. They are pressing to speed you up, and/or, to disrupt your offense. The benefit might be a turnover, a later entry into a half-court offense or forcing a team to run an offense out of traditional positions. Your goal is to have your team prepared to counter these strategies so another suggestion is to have an offensive set or system that allows your team to flow quickly out of chaos into a purposeful possession.


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