PART 2: SKILL
What’s up everyone? This is Evan Lavery from Emporia State University (KS). Today, I am going to discuss what we focus on when we develop post play. In Part 1, I discussed having a motor and how you can impact the game by just competing as hard as you can on each possession. Click here to read up on winning plays you can make for your team from the post position.
There are many drills that can be used to develop post players. When developing a curriculum for a workout, we make sure to 1) combine motor-based drills that focus on being able to score points simply by outworking our defender with 2) moves/skills around the rim that will allow us to capitalize on any isolations. There are three things we really work to stress in these small group environments:
- The drills can change, but the skills remain the same. Focus on coaching the skill.
- Take time your time and get it right. We will get reps once we get the skill.
- Build everything into live action. If this won’t be done in game, we won’t do it.
*Ball Handling/Passing – We do not spend a ton of time on this, but we spend enough time on it. We will work on dribbling hard (“cracking the floor”) and passing crisp (“snap the ball”). We focus our dribbling to be no higher than knee level while dribbling “outside our foot” to keep the ball away from our primary defender, as well as perimeter players digging at the post to deter rhythm. As far as passing, our focus is on the standard outlet pass, as well as passing out of a double team (step through, skip, etc.). There is nothing fancy or complex here. We focus on what we need.
*Jump Hook Development – We use a plethora of drills at the front end of each workout to focus on finishing the jump hook. Whether we go with no dribbles or one dribble, we focus on 1) “blades” (elbows up), 2) “hiding the ball” (placed at the ear), 3) “closing the shoulder” (ball-body-defense), and 4) finishing with no rim. Focusing on no rim finishes helps foster touch around the rim.
*“2 Feet In” – You do your work early and bury your defender. You seal, roll hard, or duck in to the point of completely dominating the person guarding you. We spend time on the “anchor foot”, which allows our posts to seal their defender as they drop to the rim for a hook shot or dunk. For example, if you are posting on the left block, and the pass is thrown towards the middle of the floor (to your left hand), your right foot “anchors” while your left foot drops. If you get 2 feet in, you need 1) an anchor foot, 2) a shot fake, and maybe, 3) a crab dribble to score. Less is always more, especially when you do your work early around the rim.
*“1 Foot In, 1 Foot Out” – This is still good post position. If we get 1 foot in the paint, we believe that we can score the ball with 1 dribble; this is not an absolute, but it is a goal when we train so we can maximize what we do while minimizing the junk in our game. We work a few different finishes when we are 1 foot in, 1 foot out:
- Jump hook (get to the middle, hide the ball, score the ball)
- Up under or spin back (the counter)
- Quarter spin (take a dribble, fake the spin, close the shoulder, and finish)
Some moves are more natural than others. Some bigs like the up under more than the spin back. We are good with that! These moves are not one size fits all.
*“2 Feet Out” – In many instances, 2 feet out is face up territory. If we catch the ball with 2 feet out of the paint, we want to try and score the ball with 2 dribbles; again, this is not an absolute. In fact, it could be 3 or 4 dribbles depending on how far out we get the catch, as well as how good our spacing is due to the shooters on the floor. The finishes for 2 feet out are the same as above. We also add a face up option:
- Rip and go baseline (mix up the finishes, fakes, pivots, etc.)
- Jab and go middle (see finishes above)
For nearly all other positions besides the post, we work off of a primary pivot foot. For our posts, we almost always get to a reverse pivot so we can walk our defender in. We are not as worried about finding balance and rhythm to shoot a 15’ jump shot.
*Back In – The back in has been prevalent at the NBA level for quite some time. At the D2 level in the MIAA, the back in is becoming more and more common from wings, combo forwards, and post players. With an officiating emphasis on cleaning up post play, you need to be able to be “gently aggressive”. As awkward as that concept sounds, can you move the primary defender without completely displacing them? We work on reading the body position of our defender. If the defender is disallowing the middle, we walk our defender down towards the baseline. If the defender is allowing us middle, we walk our defender in towards the paint. The dribble stays no higher than knee height, keeping it outside our foot, all while maintaining good body balance. Once we get to scoring range, we finish with one of the many moves we work on daily.
*Perimeter Footwork/Skill – The game is displaying versatility at an all-time high. Positionless basketball is being used at all levels. We work with our bigs on shot fakes, foot fakes, direct drives, crossover drives, and more. Does this mean they are proficient in these areas today? No. Does this mean we focus heavily on this during our season? No. In the offseason, we will get the opportunity to expand on our skill set with our bigs. Driving in straight lines, absorbing contact, and finishing will be an area of focus as we look to take our group of young bigs to another level. The progression is very basic, starting with 1) stationary footwork into a finish, 2) footwork on the move (drifts/lifts, pick and pop) into a finish, and 3) live action.
Once again, this list is not the “end all, be all” of all lists related to developing post players. As I continue personally to develop the talent we have, I constantly remind myself of a quote by John Wooden, “You have not taught until they have learned.” BIG FACTS! Our guys are not finished products. I am not a finished product as a coach. Our players in our respective programs have all grown a lot, but still are not close to where they need to be. I guess that is what keeps coaches up at night, yet inspires us to run it back the next day to seize another opportunity to get better.
Evan Lavery is a college coach and clinician with Midwest Elite Basketball. To have coaches such as Coach Lavery come to your gym to work with your program, check out our Satellite Camps.