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Where to Catch the Ball on the Wing

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Like a lot of coaches I can be a real stickler when it comes to particular fundamental aspects of the game. I want certain things done a specific way and I want them done the exact same way every single time the opportunity presents itself. One such situation occurs when a player is getting open on the wing.

There are three specific techniques we teach our players to use when attempting to get open on the wing and to tell the truth, I really don't care which one of the three they use. However, what I do care about is WHERE or players catch the ball on the wing! I am adamant that the ball is caught free throw line extended and just outside of the three point line. If they catch the ball a couple inches (not feet) below the free throw line I usually won't say anything but if they catch the ball even one inch above the free throw line I've been known to go bananas!

Here are the 5 reasons why I insist the ball is caught in the proper position:

1. Spacing

The late great Rick Majerus used to teach the "offense is spacing and spacing is offense." When the ball is caught free throw line extended it is about fifteen feet from the corner, fifteen feet from the low post, and fifteen feet from the top of the key. That distance is far enough to keep the defense spread out and yet close enough to make quick, sharp, passes to teammates.

2. Triple threat

In our program triple threat not only means being in a position where you can shoot, pass, or drive but also means that you are in a position to be a threat from the three point line. If the ball is caught inside the three point line, then the three point threat is obviously not available. Likewise, if the ball is caught too far outside of the three point line then the defense can sag off and only needs to be worried about stopping the pass and/or the drive.

3. Post entry

I've been very lucky to coach several dominant low post players in my career and so jamming the ball inside has always been a huge part of our offense. Catching the ball free throw line extended is the ideal location to enter the ball into the low post. When a wing player has the ball at that exact spot, the low post defender is forced to play either directly in front or directly behind the offensive post player. If the ball is caught only a few inches above the free throw line, the low post defender can prevent a post entry pass by simply playing on the high side of his man.

4. Skip passes

As I just mentioned, when the ball is caught in proper position, the defense must play directly in front or directly behind the low post. If they play behind they are conceding the pass into the post where a lot of bad things can happen to them defensively. However, if the defense chooses to play directly in front they must drop off someone on the weakside to help stop the lob. When that happens, the skip pass from the free throw line extended to the exact same spot on the other side of the court is virtually unstoppable.

5. One dribble to the rim

If you don't play with a strong side low post catching the ball in the ideal wing spot allows the offensive player to attack the rim going either to the right or to the left. Advanced players can get to the rim is as little as one dribble which put tremendous pressure on the entire defense.

Sometimes the offensive problems faced by teams and individuals are not so much with the offense itself but come as a result of player positioning. Catching the ball on the ideal wing spot will help alleviate a lot of those problems.

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