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How to Handle a Defensive Trap

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Some teams are very aggressive on defense and try to pressure the ball as much as they can. When this happens you could easily find yourself in a situation where two or more players are chest-to-chest with you trying to get the ball after you have picked up your dribble. This is called a defensive trap. This article explains how effective players should handle trap situations.

#1 Avoid the Trap

Why even get trapped in the first place? Traps are typically set to happen at certain spots on the floor. If you notice those spots and avoid them then you are in good shape. I know that sometimes it can't be avoided and we'll cover those situations, but for now realize that most situations can be avoided by being smart and knowing what the defense wants to do. Most teams like to trap in corners so try to keep the ball in the middle of the floor. If you find yourself nearing a sideline try to make a pass or make a quick dribble getaway.

#2 Don't Panic

You have teammates to help you. When in doubt you can probably call timeout. But teams want to force you to panic and make a poor choice. Don't give in. Stay in a basketball position and learn to pivot. Every good player should be able to pivot in all directions without losing position. That means you stay low to the ground and maintain your space. I was watching a professional player during the playoffs get trapped and the player didn't pivot correctly at all. He simply leaned back and lost his position and turned the ball over. This was a PRO player. It should never happen.

#3 Know the Rules

Once you pick up your dribble you have 5 seconds to make a decision. That may seem quick but you have teammates there to help you. Like I said earlier, most traps are done in the corners. I tell my players to attempt to keep their dribble if they can because it creates more options. If you give up your dribble and you are trapped then you are relying on everyone else to assist you out of the situation. You don't want that if possible.

#4 Split the Trap

This is where you go in between the two players that are trapping. This isn't done by everyone and needs to be a strong move. If you are afraid of contact then it won't work for you. Make sure you are low to the ground and push right in between the defenders using your body to protect the ball. Be strong with the ball and don't shy away from contact.

#5 Back the Ball off

This is my favorite way to avoid the trap. When I see the defenders in their trap position I simply take two hard fast dribbles backward and change direction. It works and it forces the defense to shift focus. Often it causes the defense to chase the ball and can create easy offensive opportunities if done right. If you learn to back the ball off to avoid pressure and you'll be very hard to press.

#6 Score

When you beat a trap it creates an offensive advantage. Take advantage and score the ball. The more easy buckets you get the quicker the defense will come out of the trap in the first place. Punish them for what they are doing and force them to change. The point of offense is to score as many easy points as possible and that happens by taking advantage of situations. When a team presses you and traps you and you beat it, then you need to score quickly to get them to change. Nothing beats a trap like scoring 12 points on 6 layups in 6 possessions.

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