All live ball moves begin from one of two basic positions—on the perimeter facing the basket or inside with your back to the basket. Regardless of your floor position, it is important to keep your game “tight”. Maintain a low stance, keep the ball compact to your body (triple-threat, chinned) and economize your motion (six inch shot fakes, short jabs, saving your dribble).
Ninety percent of the game is without the ball. Thus, you must learn how to move without the ball to get open. In doing so, consider the three things you can do on offense: 1) move the basketball, 2) move people and 3) screen. The first step in playing hard-to-guard is to move people, also known as cutting. Two basic cuts without the ball are a front cut and a back cut. More specific movements are the following:
1. V-cut / L-cut is a hard step or steps (2-step rule) taken in the opposite direction you intend to go. Angle of Return Rule: Take your defender away and when you return, cut across his path. In doing so, vary your speed (go in slow, come out fast).
2. Blast cut is a direct sprint to fill an unoccupied spot on the floor (i.e. wing to key). Such a cut is important to ensure floor balance and ball reversal options.
3. Basket cut often occurs after you pass to a teammate. Set your defender up with one or two steps (2-step rule) away from the ball, and then face cut your defender to the basket. If he takes this away, back cut!
4. Cut and replace yourself is also an option after passing the ball. If your defender sags too much and jams your cut to the basket, simply replace yourself.
5. Screening for a teammate is another excellent way to get open. Simply roll and seal, pick and pop, or slip the pick properly. Good players continuously look to screen for their teammates.
Sometimes when you V-cut or L-cut on the wing versus serious pressure, drag a foot. This enables you to outside pivot and go to the basket.
Triple Threat (RPA)
Assuming a triple threat position is the key to any live ball move. Catch and square up to the basket. Keep your game tight and look to the following: Rim, Post and Action.
Move the Ball
The ball is bait. Therefore, it is advantageous for the ball to be moved as long as it is tight with the body. We teach the following ball movements:
1. Sweep / Rip – Rip the ball from one side to the other (break off their wrist) as you make a live ball move.
2. Half Sweep / Rip – Fake the rip as you make a live ball move to that same side.
3. Shot Fake – 6 inches only! Remember: “Ball up, butt down.”
The blow-by step is one of two live ball moves used while in the triple-threat position. This direct drive is initiated with your free foot straight to the basket (go with the boards). The ball is pushed “long and low” to the floor before the pivot foot is lifted (chest over thigh). The most vulnerable side of the defender is the front-foot side because he must pivot before he can push-step.
The crossover move is initiated with a jab step using your free foot. If the defender reacts to the jab, cross the same foot over and attack his outside shoulder. Remain low (chest over thigh) and keep your pivot foot stationary until you begin your dribble. Remember to “go with the boards” and close the gap as soon as possible.
Jab Step Defined
A jab step, or foot fake, needs to be short and quick (about six inches). You can shoot or crossover if the defender reacts to the jab.
Coach Hueser’s “3-Pointer”
1. Good players are constantly aware of “S.A.M.” 1) Spacing. Always maintain proper distance between you and your teammates. 2) Angles. It’s important to cut at angles and create proper screening angles. 3) Momentum. Use your opponent’s own quickness (mo) to work against him.
2. Make a concentrated effort to pass the ball inside, communicate to your teammate, and split to the open area. This will help encourage good, inside-outside play.
3. As soon as you go by your defender, "close the gap”. Get him on your back, not allowing him space to recover. You must attack linear (“North to South”) as opposed to lateral (“Go with the boards”).
Getting Open on the Block
To begin with, learn to sprint from the defensive end to the offensive posting area in four seconds or less. It is also important to change speed and direction. For example, if you are flashing across the lane and the defender is above you, then take him a step higher and cut low (back cut). If the defender is below you, then take him a step lower and cut high (front cut). Make both cuts with a burst of quickness (go in slow and come out fast). Either way, assume position just above the low block. We term this area as the “landmark”.
Draw & Kick Spacing
When perimeter players penetrate, be prepared to fill the holes created from your man leaving to help.
1. I-cut or step up the lane when the perimeter player drives baseline.
2. If the ball is penetrated to the middle from the wing, step-out to the short corner.
3. If you happen to be a perimeter player posting up, we encourage you to “euro-cut”. This simply means you will replace the driver. Be ready to shoot!
Take your foot closest to the defender, step over the defender's foot and sit down on him.
Pin & Spin
Step between the defender's feet and then reverse pivot into him establishing position.
Seal In (Doleac Position)
The goal when sealing-in is to achieve a proper seal of the defender to the inside. At least one foot is to be in the paint.
Seal Out (Leg Whip)
If the defender tries to three-quarter front from the high side or even dead front, seal him out with a leg whip (reverse pivot) and direct the ball to the top for the proper high-low passing angle. When the pass is thrown, hold contact until the ball is directly above your head, then release and pursue the ball.
Establishing Doleac Position
Try to get your foot in front of your defender’s foot, and then lift up or push down his arm. With that position taken, always “show the ball your numbers” for two seconds. Assume a wider than normal base, low center of gravity, elbows out, upper arms parallel to the floor as extensions of the shoulders, and both hands up (you should be able to see the back of your hands). Hips and buttocks are used to sit on the defender’s legs and maintain contact. “Taking out the defender” is to allow the defender to take a position of his choice, and then take him further in that direction. We refer to this technique as “Doleac” position. It is important to use your legs and hips as much as possible.
Catch, Chin & Check (3 C’s)
First of all, call for the ball orally and with your eyes. You must shorten the pass by stepping to the pass. Get both feet in the air when the ball is in the air. Execute a quick jump stop and catch it with two hands (block and secure technique). Immediately "chin" the ball to protect it. Then read the defense by checking over your shooting shoulder, utilize a post move, or pass the ball back outside – sometimes engaging in "ping-pong". Keep in mind the closer you are to the basket, the slower your game should be.
Turn Around Jumpshot
Make a hard shoulder fake (show the ball) and front pivot away from the defense. Meanwhile, square up to the basket and shoot the jumpshot if the defender does not recover.
Chin the ball and make a half body turn (get perpendicular to the basket). Raise your shooting arm straight in the air (12 o’clock vs. 2 o’clock release). Finish the shot with a complete wrist flexion over the middle finger of your non-shooting hand.
“Jailing Your Defender” Defined
It is often advantageous to “put your defender in jail”. Using the rim as a second defender does this. For example, if you drop step to the baseline side you might find it helpful to go underneath the hoop and finish with a reverse lay-up.
Up & Under Move
Make a hard shoulder fake (show the ball) and front pivot away from the defense, all the while squaring up to the basket. If the defender does recover, up fake (ball up, butt down) and cross under the defense.
Find (feel or check over your shooting shoulder) the defense and drop the opposite foot (point your toe where you want to go). Meanwhile, hook and seal the defender with the hips and buttocks. Then take one power dribble, come to a two-foot plant and execute a power move (drop, hop and stop). Protect the ball with the body and score with the shooting hand away from the defender.
Double Drop Step (Advanced Move)
If you are unable to hook and seal the defender, it is recommended to take a power dribble and drop step to the opposite side (heal always hits the floor first).
The advantage to this move is its ability to create space between you and your defender. After you catch the ball, reverse pivot ready to shoot or use one of two live ball moves: wipe & go and/or half-rip crossover.
Coach Hueser’s “3-Pointer”
1. When you have a much smaller or weaker defender guarding you on the block, call out "Charlie" and every available effort will be made to get you the ball.
2. Some post players develop the reputation as a "black hole". Meaning, once the ball goes in it never comes back out. Be careful you don't earn such a reputation.
3. “Roll on pressure” is a teaching term encouraging you to find the defense and make your move accordingly.