Handling Defensive Pressure

Clinic Notes from:


These are some of the notes I took at last spring’s PGC/Glazier Basketball coaching Clinic in Chicago.
The presenter was Tyler Coston, a full-time course director and clinician with PGC Basketball and his topic was “Handling Defensive Pressure.”

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2017 Fall Clinic Dates and Locations
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Mindset for facing pressure

  • Dick Devenzio, Founder of PGC Basketball and author of several coaching books, taught players that “Pressure is an illusion in the mind of the offense.”
  • It’s not the pressure itself that leads to most of the turnovers, it is the fear of the pressure that causes bad decisions and leads to turnovers.
  • Most turnovers against pressure are stolen out of the air, not taking the ball from your hands.
  • Fear of being pressured (fear of anything for that matter) is a “Mind Killer.” You can’t think when you’re afraid.
    Fear makes you frantic and flustered, agitated and confused.
  • As coaches, we must help our players to develop a mindset to get over the fear and be cool, calm, and collected.
  • Actually an opponent puts themselves at a disadvantage when pressing because they spread themselves out and have more territory to defend.

Getting open against defensive pressure

  • Running a 4 way race.
  • Players should run east and west or north and south, taking long strides, running in a straight line, and making sharp changes in direction.
  • If the defense is on the side, run north and south. Players get in trouble when the run in curves.
  • Get open by the 3rd or 4th step.

Spacing against defensive pressure

  • You cannot have 2 players running away from the ball against pressure.
  • Any time the ball is trapped, you need 3 available receivers near the player with the basketball and 1 at the basket to force the defense to guard the basket.
  • You can usually fix your spacing just by moving one player.

Power Position Holding the basketball when being trapped while looking to pass out of the trap.

  • Hold the ball with both hands and against the shoulder to establish 3 points of contact.
  • Makes it much tougher for the defense to dislodge the basketball.
  • Elbows wide, but not swinging. They are not swords to swing, they are spears.
  • Wide Feet.
  • Changing heights moving up and down-flexing and extending knees.
  • Be ferocious when you are trapped.

Passing Out of a Trap

  • Fake first before you attack the trap.
  • Pass out of the trap with a “Piston Pass” an explosive driving pass from the shoulder. Pass as if you are trying to break a window with your fist. “Break the Glass on the Pass.”
  • The windows to use to pass by a defensive player are directly over their head, by their ears, and by their arm pits.
  • Ball handler must move the defenders hands and arms where you want them to be to make the pass with your eyes & body.

4 on 4 passing out of a trap drill

  • Objective of the drill is for players to develop confidence in their ability to pass out of a trap while teammates learn the value of 3 nearby and available receivers.
  • A space in the middle of the floor works best for the drill. The receives should to to the pass and meet it, so the group will constantly be moving and adjusting positions and spacing.
  • Offense must hold the basketball for 5 seconds before passing out of the trap. The two trapping defenders count to 5.
  • 2 defenders must always trap the basketball.
  • Offense gets a point per completed pass.
  • If the defense gets a deflection, offense and defense switch.
  • Play to 10 points.

2 offense vs. 3 defense Full Court Drill

  • Rule for the offensive players. If you have one defender guarding you, beat them. If you have two defenders guarding you, pass to the defense.
  • Offense plays to score or get fouled at the opposite end basket from where they start. Make teams of 3 and make the drill competitive.

Closing Thoughts

  • The moment a pass comes out of a trap, attack before the trappers can recover.
  • Your mentality against a press is to get a layup, not just getting the ball across half court.
  • You get layups by attacking immediately when the pass comes out of the trap.
  • Your team’s mentality must be ‘You press us, you pay!

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