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Answers to Common Questions Post Basketball Players Ask

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My defender constantly fronts me and I struggle to get around him. What can I do to get open? The way I am being defended is slowing down the offense and I want to know what ways I can make him pay so that he'll play me normally.


I am a huge Illinois basketball fan. One of the many great coaches they have had is Bill Self who is now the coach at Kansas. One thing Bill Self does very well is coach the high low offense. He wants defense to front his post player and his offense is predicated on it. When  Brian Cook was at Illinois teams would play behind him and let him catch it because he was so good at sealing his man. Let's talk about this in detail...

Some defenses play to front the post, meaning they will place the defender directly in front of the post player so that a lob pass must be made to get it to him. Lob passes are slow and teams can help relatively quickly on those. So how do we beat it or establish position as a post player? Let's assume that your offense isn't predicated on the front style defense and it is just your defender that has chosen to do this.

First, try what is called a step around to get the ball. This is just plain working hard and stepping around him to get the ball. Usually this works but it also forces you further from the basket. I coach my posts that if the defender keeps trying to front you then let him front you and you seal him. This means that you hold him off. Use positioning like you would if you were boxing someone off or if you were trying to receive a post pass from the basket. Get low, one elbow sealing and one hand showing for the ball. The key though is to attempt to push your man higher and higher to create more space and a better angle for yourself. This makes it so the pass to you doesn't have to be a lob.

I coach my guards not to pass to the hand but to pass toward the hoop. If the player is led to the basket then more space is created and a scoring opportunity is created without a dribble. If you do this successfully 3-4 times then the defense will play behind you each time. Coaches, please work with your posts on this drill because many defenses try to force this and lack of preparation will really hurt your chances.


I can't get the ball. My coach keeps yelling at me to get down low but I struggle getting position and I don't play well with my back to the basket. What can I do?


I hate to say it but if this is how you think, you really need to toughen up and take control. You have to do whatever it takes to make sure you are comfortable playing down low. Fear or insecurity comes from lack of preparation. It sounds like you are perfectly comfortable when you are playing towards the basket. You got that way for a reason and that is by working on it.

Now do the same and learn what it takes to be a good post. You will only be adding to your game and helping your team win. As a coach, either you do what I want or you're on the bench. You don't want to be on the bench. Practice and work at it. You'll thank me for this later.


I'm a post player and I struggle getting open. I get pushed out to far away from the basket where my drop-step isn't very effective. What can I do?


There are a number of ways to get around this. Be smart and understand what the defense is doing. More than likely they are letting you get position and just pushing you out away. Most of the time the defender will get his leg right into your behind and just try to ride you out of there. Let's come up with some solutions.

One idea is to start gaining position closer to the basket. I do this a couple of different ways. One is to walk my defender to the spot I want to go to. Do what Shaq does and just raise your arms up and walk straight ahead until you get to where you want and then turn around strong and get position. Doesn't that sound easy? It isn't that easy because the defender won't just let you walk down to the hoop.

He'll bump you or cut you off. When he does I pretend that I'm going to set a pick. I'll even call out a guy on my teams name and relax for a split second before I get position. Don't be afraid to push back or be physical with the defense. I coach players to pretend that they are going to the opposite block before they dart back into position. Be smart. We all know what we should do but we think too much sometimes and make it more difficult than it really is.


I'm learning how to get open while facing a zone defense and struggling with it. Do you have any ideas that I can use? Can I still post up?


Of course you can still post up. When the ball is on the baseline then someone has to guard the ball and you are able to post your man up by the block.

Zone defenses present opportunities all over the place but you have to understand how to create and then attack those openings. Zones have gaps and those gaps need to be attacked. Against a 2-3 zone you'll have two areas or gaps to go after. You have horizontal (side to side) or vertical (up and down) gaps. The main gap against a 2-3 is the area between the top and bottom defenders and is horizontal. The vertical gap is right at the top between the top defenders.

Gaps are important to understand because they force defenders to make choices and many times, more than one defender will try to stop the gap. Against a zone, post players can gain position by getting help from the other offensive players. The ball needs to move quickly and the post player needs to understand where the openings will be. I suggest watching teams play against Syracuse University because they only play 2-3 zone and teams prepare for them very thoroughly.

If you see a game on ESPN Classic or just on television then take some time and watch it to see how the post players play against that type of defense. Look for opportunities and create opportunities. If you just walk around the key thinking you'll never get the ball then that is probably what will happen.


When the ball is passed to a wing my coach keeps yelling at me to seal my defender and I don't understand what he means?


Sealing a defender against a zone is one of my favorite plays to teach. Especially when playing against younger teams. I teach my big guys to make their cuts against the zone either before the zone shifts or after the zone shifts. In zone defenses when a pass is made, the defense can lose sight of players and can lose a little bit of intensity.

In a 2-3 zone I coach my post players to seal off the outside defenders on the bottom. Keep them away from the basket. In a 2-3, that defender will have to be outside of you to guard against the outside shot. So when a pass is going from wing to wing the defense will shift. Keep that defender from shifting by sealing him off.

I've already covered how to receive a pass as a post player and sealing is no different. Get the player on your backside and maintain position so that an easy lob pass can be made or a hard pass from a good angle can be made. For coaches of young players, take the time to teach these kids how to hold off defenders and how to maintain that position. Get your point guards to reward big players by getting them the ball.


What tips can you give me for contesting a shot without fouling or being called for a foul?


I was never a shot blocker. I only block shots in dunk ball games with my friends and even then it is rare. One thing that I've been paying attention to a lot lately is how coaches are teaching players to contest shots. First thing is to jump straight up without your arms flailing forward.

If you can't jump very high, then use a trick that I learned a long time ago. Refs watch the shot and the arms. They usually don't watch the legs. When a player goes up to shoot the ball, keep your arms and hands straight up. But while the player is shooting the ball simply slide forward a little bit to get into his legs.

It causes the player to go off balance and create a missed shot. It has been done to me many times and is very effective. The best way is to combine getting into the legs with getting one hand directly into the face of the shooter. If you can block the shooters vision then you should be able to force some more missed shots.

These won't force misses every time but you are giving yourself the best chance possible by doing so. It's important to note that if you try to get into the legs make sure it's very subtle. Make sure when your opponent comes down you are out of the way so they don't fall down on your feet.

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