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The Importance of Proper Spacing in Basketball

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I'm writing this article out of frustration on my part. Having played basketball at a high level, there is nothing I enjoy more than playing with people who understand the game of basketball.

I HATE driving to the basket and running into my own player or my own players defender that he brought into the key. Drives me crazy.

I wanted to put something together for young players and coaches so that they can learn this.

By understanding spacing you will get many more open shots and more open shots for your teammates. You'll frustrate defenses as well.

Let's make this simple. NEVER be in a situation where one defender can guard two players. That's easy enough. How many times have you been running a zone offense and you are literally 5 feet from another guy on your team? Terrible. One defender can guard two players. The goal is to be in the opposite situation. We want two defenders to guard or be forced to guard one offensive player. This is done when proper spacing is created.

The Chicago Bulls and Tex Winter created an offense called the Triangle and many of you have probably heard of it. This offense is predicated on creating space for players. When any one of the Bulls players had the ball, whether it was Grant, Pippen or Jordan it forced a man to man situation that the Bulls knew they would win most of the time. Are we the Bulls? No, but we don't have to be. Let's look at some of the basics of understanding spacing.

Ball-Man Relationship 
This applies to defense as well but is just as important on offense. If a player has the ball make sure that you are enough of a distance away that if your man were to help he would have to make an effort.

Moving Without the Ball 
If your teammate starts to dribble toward you, unless it is part of the offense, move out of the way. Keep the spacing correct. Never take your man to where the ball is as this causes unsuspected problems and leads to turnovers. Make your defender make a choice, but never lead him into a trap. MOVE.

Don't Stand Still 
Rick Majerus called me a statue once. I won't say what type of statue he called me because kids can read this but my excuse was I was attempting to preserve the spacing. He basically told me that if I just stood there they didn't need me on the floor. By moving around, space is created and holes open up. Defenses can rest when you are resting and that shouldn't be happening ever. Doing something is better than nothing.

Understand the Play 
Many times a play is called that requires getting the ball inside. You decide to move without the ball and cut through the key. This leads your defender right to the action. Always remember the key to offense is to get the best shot possible and play that way. Force the defense to make choices. If the defense decides to double team the ball then someone will be open for a good shot. If the spacing isn't correct the double team will be very effective.

Court Realization 
Understand where you are on the floor. Why would someone guard you away from the basket if you can't shoot? This relates to spacing. You must be in a space where you can score or be a threat. If you are standing at half court, your defender will go help out the teammates. Don't be too close, but don't be too far away either. Be a threat so that your spacing matters.

I hope this helps you understand how to create better spacing for you and your teammates. Don't be afraid to lead your team and direct them in this regard. It isn't uncommon at all to remind your players to maintain spacing so the offense can be as effective as it needs to be.

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