Post Play: What to Teach and Why We Teach It

The game slows down when we get the ball into the low post.

It is one of two times that we emphasize jabs and fakes. The other time is in a ball screen. In a ball screen the game slows down to allow the offensive ballhandler time to set up their defender. This helps the ballhandler to get to the shoulder of the screen.  This creates better, and more effective decision making opportunities. In the post the game slows down to allow the offensive match-up to play and read out of one-on-one.

The goal of any offensive player who dribbles is to score, or if they can’t score, to draw help.

This is no different in the low post. In fact it is easier in the post because the dribble happens closer to the basket. If the defense wants to help then the defender’s must commit more to stop the scoring opportunity. Proper offensive spacing around the low post makes the defensive coverage even more challenging.

Your best post match-ups are rarely your biggest player. Don’t position your players based on size.

Position them based on effectiveness and match-ups. If our 6’2 guard is effective in the low post, has a passing awareness and has an advantageous match-up, then we will post them up. All our set plays are interchangeable when it comes to positions. The blueprint for a successful low post set play is simple:

  1. A skilled post passer.
  2. An effective post scorer.
  3. A skilled high low passer
  4. A weakside shooter.
Who fills those positions depends on the match-ups going into a particular game vs. a specific opponent. If you would like to keep those positions consistent then that works as well; as long as you put players in the most effective position, not the position that stereotypically fits their height.
Post Play Spacing

Ideally we want possession of the ball and deep positioning in the low post but if given a choice we want possession over position.

Since we value possession over position we teach the T-Up in the low post. We would love to get a deep seal drop step lay-up every possession. We find that it is rare against good defensive teams. The main reason is because there is too much physical contact allowed in the low post before the catch. This makes it difficult to fight for position even with the most effective technique.
Basketball Post Play

At some levels a player will have a real physical advantage. If that is the case then the deep butt seal is still helpful to teach and execute. But even in those situations we find the officiating advantage rarely goes to the size match-up. Usually a smaller defensive player is allowed to play a bigger offensive player more aggressively. If anything gets called in a bigger vs. smaller low post situation, it is usually an offensive foul vs. the bigger.

We also teach the T-Up because it is consistent with our basketball decision training (BDT) reads. Our BDT reads state that an offensive advantage is shoulder to chest positioning with a defender. The defensive advantage is chest to chest. In the low post an offensive player positions themselves so that they form a T with their defender.

Our goal is to get the ball into a low post match-up to force our opponent to react.

The T-Up allows us to get the ball to the low post more often. Since we don’t to have fight for perfect deep positioning each possession we can get the ball there more often. If our opponent commits to deny the T-Up, it puts them in a more vulnerable position for the high low pass or the lob pass. This is because the positioning of the T-Up is farther from the rim. So a 3’4 denial or full front defensive coverage occurs farther from the basket creating more space for a pass.

There are three ways to defend a low post match-up:

  1. One-On-One
  2. Dig
  3. Double

The reaction we are trying to force from our opponent is to either help on the low post match-up or to not help. If they help then we use a post reaction sequence to take advantage of their decision to help. There are many possible post reaction sequences. We have used many options through the years depending on the skills of our players. We prefer to send cutters to the rim to take advantage of the help defender’s natural reaction to stare at the ball in the low post.

Don’t complicate getting the ball into the low post.

I have watched so many teams run complex actions to get the ball into the post. I believe if you want to get the ball to the low post take the ball to the match-ups side and pass it into the post.

If the defense takes away the pass then make reads based on how the defense defends the low post. Your offense should flow into secondary reads such as a high-low pass, a skip to the weakside, a ball reversal or a ballscreen. If the defense plays behind the low post, enter the ball. If the defense fronts the low post, enter to the high low passer for a high-low pass. If the defense fronts and helps from the weakside low position skip pass to a weakside shooter.

These outtakes will provide some more ideas about what we teach in the post. 






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