Press Break Principles Before Teaching Press Break

I am going to use Quick Hitters to respond to questions I have gotten from coaches. I want to help as much as possible with real coaching challenges.

QUESTION via @pcortes64:

Hey, Coach. You’ve mentioned before that you think kids, especially early in the season, should not use a press break. Rather they should learn principles of how to beat a press and then be able to work things out on the court. I’ve always used a press break, but I’d like to try this this season. Early in the season, how do you teach principles behind beating the press. Is there anything specific you like to do—any kind of progression. I want to try teaching kids to break a press without a break.


I do teach a press break…eventually. It is a very basic one. I don’t teach the press break until well after we have spent time practicing vs. pressure. If you teach press break early it can become a spot to spot pattern, instead of a structure from which to make decisions. I also want our press defense to have success, or the opportunity to have success.

Pressing vs. random structure creates more opportunities for our press defense to develop. Our press defense working vs. different formations applies the concepts of random practice. Since our press break has no structure, our defense is forced to figure things out because players can’t memorize rotations and reads based on a predictable press break.

We do coach offense and defense at the same time. So while we don’t focus on a press break structure, we do focus on press break principles. This means we spend a lot of time on offensive decision making vs pressure. Here are the principles we coach every day in our press break.

Press Break Principles

  • One defender is not pressure. Attack the single defender in straight lines (Read more Warning: I Don’t Like the Zig Zag Drill).
  • Two defenders is pressure. The dribbler should invite the double team by creating space (usually using a pull-back dribble). They should then look to re-attack in space or pass out of the double team to a numbers advantage.
  • Never stand three in a row. Three in a row is when the receiver stands in a line between their defender and the passer. A receiver should move so they are visible to the passer.

3 in a row

Drills We Use (Member’s Only Access to Videos)

50 Trips vs. Pressure

  • The dribble moves we teach vs. pressure.

Steal the Ball

  • Increase our player’s confidence vs. aggressive pressure.

1 vs. 2

  • How we work vs. 2 defenders.

5-on-5 Press Trips

  • A look at how we use a games approach to develop our press break and press defense.

5-on-5 Chase Drill

  • A competitive 5-on-5 drill that works on our press break and press defense.
  • Multiple trips of the floor are used to simulate a game.
  • This drill can be done 4-on-4 or 3-on-3 depending on the learning phase and the number of repetitions you wish players to get using a small-sided games approach.

Check out more ideas on press break here:


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