The Basketball Podcast: EP120 Žan Tabak on Modern Post Play

RELEASE DATE : 28/10/2020

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, former NBA player and current professional head coach Žan Tabak joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss modern post play. Offensive and defensive concepts around post player development, decision-making in different situations, and scenarios for playing with different types of post players are covered.

Žan Tabak is currently serves as a head coach for Basket Zielona Góra of the Polish Basketball League and the main coach of the Slovak national team. His basketball career, spanning twenty years, was marked by several notable achievements, including being the first international player to play in the NBA Finals for two teams. 

Žan Tabak was chosen in the 2nd Round of the draft, (51st pick) of the NBA by the Houston Rockets. Between 1992 and 1994 he played in the Italian League where the best basketball in Europe was being played. In his two seasons in Italy, both Libertas Livorno and Olimpia Milano, averaged double figures in both points and rebounds. Žan Tabak spent 6 seasons in the NBA in two stages, playing in the NBA Finals twice and winning a championship ring, with the Houston Rockets. He played for four teams in the NBA – Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtic and Indiana Pacers.

His coaching career started as a scout for the NBA Houston Rockets. He worked as a technical assistant to Joan Plaza for several seasons, both at Real Madrid and in Seville, before becoming a head coach. As the head coach, Žan Tabak has coached in leagues such as LEB, ACB (3 teams), the Euroleague, the Polish League, and the Israeli League.

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Zan Tabak

Žan Tabak Quotes:

“I learned different approaches to sport and to basketball . . One thing I learned at the start of my coaching career . . coaches should never stop developing and coaches should never stop trying to get better.”

You can get the player that can play inside, but that same kind of a player on the defensive side of the court will usually have a big problem.”

Today . . the big man scores mostly off of driving and passing . . or from the quick pass in traffic without being able to dribble the ball . . for that, you need to have good hands . . good hand-eye coordination.”

“Today’s big men really need to have good lateral quickness . . height is an advantage, but if it is not followed by a good athletic part, the height cannot be used.”

“You should teach everybody how to play an outside position but, also, you should teach all your players how to play inside to be able to have a complete player.”

“When we are doing big man camp . . we are usually starting with a lot of our shots, with hooks, with jump hooks; doing everything without the dribble facing the basket, then doing everything without the dribble with back to the basket.”

“When somebody is setting the screen for you, I’m teaching all the player not to roll anymore by turning their back . . keep running . . do not peel back. The difference between beating your man or not beating you man, scoring or not scoring, is the first step after the screen. So, it’s important the first step is explosive.”

“Usually, when you have someone who is really good on the low post, the other team is not used to it. They don’t have the other post defender so usually they go with the double team. The most common double team we are finding in Europe is a double team from the last man on the weak side coming from the baseline.”

“Passing is a great ability but I always said if you are not dangerous and if you are not trying to score, you will not be able to pass.”

“The players who know how to finish with contact – every year there are less and less of them. That’s why I think there are a lot of shots where we are putting the body in between the ball and the defender . . a hook and a jump hook are essential if you want to play effectively in the post.”

“In the team shooting drills . . we say to the players. ‘Okay, let’s make 200 shots.’ Everybody is assuming, let’s take outside shots. On my teams, the people who are playing under the rim, they are required to take 50 percent of the shots . . with their back to the basket.”

“I always believe that exceptional players cannot be stopped 1-on-1. Stopping an exceptional player is a team effort.”

“I’m not the kind of coach who is playing conservative defense waiting for the other team t make mistakes. I prefer to force them to make mistakes.”

“From my experience as a player . . if you run 10 times . . twice you’re going to receive the ball; eight times you’re going to draw attention by running through the middle and some of your teammates are going to get a shot.”

“For the big men, . . it’s a question of the quantity . . you’re supposed to run every time and you’re supposed to go every time to . . rebound. There is no help; as a big man, a big part of the game is a working part. And, if you want to play as a big man, you need to take that for granted.”

“One of the things that I think is really, really important for the big man is a stance, the center of gravity. The center of gravity should be the lowest point possible all the time, not going up and down but staying low. That center of gravity will get you the win in many offensive and defensive battles.”

“If you are not ready to get hit and manage with the contact, you cannot play inside. So, if you are looking to teach somebody how to play inside, you should expect from Day One that he is willing to do that.”

Selected Links from the Podcast:

Basket Zielona Gora

Geoffrey Groselle


1:00 – How His Philosophy has Changed
2:30 – Changes in Post Play
7:00 – Modern Pick and Roll Players
10:30 – Value of Teaching all Players
12:00 – Developing Hand-Eye Coordination
13:40 – One-on-One in the Post
15:30 – Read and React
18:00 – Skill Development on the Perimeter
20:00 – Pick and Roll Catches
23:00 – Can and Can’t Score in the Post
26:30 – Double Team
30:00 – Imperfect Lineup
32:00 – Strategies for a Perfect Lineup
33:00 – Track Post Touches
34:30 – Improving Passing
36:30 – Finishing Ideas
38:30 – Scoring Around the Rim
40:00 – Dominant Low Post Scorer
45:00 – Importance of Balance
48:00 – Video Sessions
49:00 – Laying Foundation at the Youth Level
52:00 – Lateral Shooting

Zan Tabak:


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