The back pivot is used to create space. Why is this important to understand? The goal of the offense is to score. The easiest way to create an opportunity to score is to create space. The opposite is true for the defense. The defense’s goal is to prevent the offense from scoring. The defense’s best method of preventing this possibility is to take away the offense’s space.
This yin and yang are a key to understanding individual offensive and defensive decision making. An offensive player who understands how to create space will create, and convert a higher percentage of scoring opportunities. Learn more about offensive advantage here: How to Teach Players to Read Advantage and Disadvantage
The back pivot individual offensive scoring move can help an offensive player create space. This is particular important vs. good defensive teams because good defensive teams give up fewer uncontested lay-ups at the rim. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that a good defense rarely gives up a one foot lay-up in the half-court.
The rise of the back pivots importance to players of all levels is proportional to the improvement of team and individual defense. It is hard to score against good defense, but the back pivot can give an advantage to the offense at the rim.
Another important reason to teach the back pivot, especially to youth basketball players, is that it is a direct application of basketball footwork. It is a more “exciting” way to work on footwork. Important aspects of footwork are applied in the back pivot. These include running and stopping, dribbling and stopping, balancing, staying low in a ready position, maintaining a wide base, incorporating front and reverse pivots, movements into space, and creating a shoulder to chest advantage.
What is the Back Pivot
There are other names for this move. We have called it a “Nash” in the past after Steve Nash, who I first learned it from. The back pivot is by definition a front pivot on the back foot. A front pivot is when a player leads with their nose, instead of their butt like would happen with a back pivot. The move is applied from a shoulder to chest position with a defender or the basket. This means that the offensive player stops with their shoulder facing the rim rather than being square, or chest to chest with the basket.
Uses of the Back Pivot
The back pivot can be used to create space for a shot or a pass. It is most often applied on a dribble drive. It can also be used off of a catch or an offensive rebound. A cutter on an off the ball cut, or on a pick and roll can use a back pivot without a dribble to shoot. Similarly, without a dribble a player who gets an offensive rebound can rebound the ball and back pivot to shoot or pass.
When to Use a Back Pivot
The back pivot is best applied within the scoring area near the rim. You can define this however you want, but we generally say it is with at least one foot in the key. It can be used when the defender covering the ball cuts off the path to the basket. It can also be used the a help side defender rotates to cut off the offensive player’s path to the basket.
What is the Decision Cue to Apply the Back Pivot
Reading advantage and disadvantage comes back to understanding whether an offensive player has space or not. As discussed in a previous blog one of the decision cues for a player is to read whether they have a shoulder to chest or chest to chest relationship to the defender.
- If an offensive player who is dribbling gets cut off early by a defender, they apply a dribble counter.
- If an offensive player gets cut off late by a defender, either their check or the help side defender, they apply a back pivot.
Back Pivot Counters
A counter is a secondary move applied to an offensive move to counter a defensive coverage.
- If the defender jams the back pivot, the offensive player can apply an up and under or reverse pivot counter.
- If the defender recovers to take away the up and under move, the offensive player can apply a third pivot. A third pivot is a continuation of the up and under with another front pivot to a shot.
- If the defender recovers to take away the reverse pivot counter, the player can use a front pivot to come back to the shot.
- Lastly an offensive player can use a fake double drop to counter a defender who anticipates the back pivot move.
It is important to note that most of the time, and especially with younger players, the counters should not be taught immediately. Too often players fall in love with the counters when the initial back pivot shot is open.
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