Post Play Basics

These notes about post play are from the Xavier Basketball Coaching Newsletter. To subscribe to their newsletter and to see the archives of their past newsletters, click here:

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Get Position

Before you can make a move on the low post, you have to be able to get the ball first. You want to post-up, or receive the ball, along the free throw lane, at the mid-post. You do not want to post up in the lane, or you may get the three second call. You may have to fight hard to get into position to receive a safe pass. Get strong, feet wide apart, butt out, and back straight.

Seal the defender off. If he is over-playing you from one side, keep that arm and elbow firm to ward him off, while extending the opposite arm and hand to make a good target for the passer. When the pass comes, move toward it, to meet it. After receiving the ball, keep it up at chin level with elbows out, to protect it. Do not actually throw an elbow; just keep them out to ward off the defender. When receiving the pass, it is advantageous to meet the ball with a jump stop. When you jump stop, you have the option of either foot becoming your pivot foot, so you can make a move either way, to the lane or to the baseline.

Two things to try if you can’t get open

    1. Move away off the low post a few steps, then quickly come right back.
    2. If the defender stays in front of you, move him up to the high post at the elbow. Then give the passer a hand signal, and quickly cut back-door for the lob pass to the hoop. These are some basic moves the inside player should learn.

A. Low post moves

1. Drop step to baseline.

a. After receiving the ball, feel where the defender is.
b. If he is on the lane, or high side, give a fake toward the lane.
c. Then extend your inside (baseline) foot backward, pivot quickly to the baseline and toward the hoop, and make a one-bounce power-dribble to the hoop.
d. Keep your body between the defender and the ball, and extend your arms forward toward the hoop.

2. Drop step to lane (jump hook).

a. After receiving the ball, feel where the defender is.
b. If he is on your baseline side, fake to the baseline, and drop your lane-side foot backward.
c. Pivot quickly on that foot, and jump hook and shoot with the hand opposite the defender.

3. Turn and face defender and jab step.

a. After receiving the ball, feel where the defender is.
b. If he is directly behind you, that is, not toward either the lane or the baseline, but right behind you, do this.
c. Pivot and face the defender, while protecting the ball.
d. Give a quick jab step fak, and see what his reaction is.
e. If he drops back, just shoot up the baby jumper, often off the glass.
f. If he does not back off the jab step, quickly drive around him.
g. This is a good high-percentage shot.

4. Up and under move

a. After pivoting and facing the defender, fake a shot to get him to leave his feet.
b. Once he has straightened up, or jumped, you can beat him.
c. Quickly duck under him on a straight line to the hoop.

B. Playing the High Post

When the high-post player has the ball, they are in excellent position to make a pass down to the low post or to the backside wing (reverse the ball) or to a back-door cutter. Also, they can find a teammate spotted up for a three-pointer on the wing or in the corner. So being a good passer and finding the open teammate is important here.

The high post player should look to score also. At the foul line and elbows, have them pivot and face the hoop, looking to take the open shot, or looking for the pass to a baseline cutter. If their defender is up close in their face, have them fake the shot and use their quickness to explode around them and take it to the hoop. So you see that even a big man must have the ability to shoot the shot from the free-throw line, or fake and drive, just like a perimeter player. A post player is so much more effective and versatile if they can shoot the shot from the free-throw line area consistently.

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