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Step Back to Get Your Shot Off

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To understand the concept of creating enough space to get our shot off, it helps if we consider what our defender is trying to accomplish. Most defenders are taught to stay in front of their offensive players and to remain about an arm's length away.

This positioning and distance allows the defender to contest any jump shot while still maintaining the space necessary to stop the drive to the rim. Therefore, in order to keep his spacing, the defender must constantly back up and then slide forward so he can maintain his arm's length positioning.

When we drive hard at the defender he has no choice but to immediately back up or he runs the risk of letting us get all the way to the basket. As the defender is moving back on his heels we have the ideal opportunity to step back ourselves and create some additional operating space.

Once we step back we can do one of two things. First of all we can take advantage of the extra space and shoot a wide open jump shot off the dribble. This is best accomplished by using a "pound" dribble, where your last dribble is so hard that the ball bounces right up into your shooting pocket, making your shot just a little bit quicker.

Secondly, when we step back we put the defender in a precarious close out situation. If he closes out awkwardly or merely lunges back out at us, a simple head fake will let you use the dribble to go right around him once again.

To execute an effective step back move use the following four steps:

1. Dribble hard right at your defender in order to get him to back up. He has to be convinced that you are going to the rim so a half speed effort will just not work.

2. This move is even more effective if you can initially neutralize your defender by making contact with him. This can be done with either your inside shoulder or with an arm bar but you must make sure that you don't extend your arm and push off.

3. Once your defender is moving backwards stop and execute the step back. Either plant on one foot and then jump back and land on both feet (kind of a backwards jump stop) or take an extra slide dribble while you're stepping back. The first technique will result in a jump shot while the second technique is necessary if you want to create a close out situation. (A very effective offensive strategy is to use the first technique during your first step back. The next time you are in the same situation the defender will anticipate the jump shot but using the second technique will then get you a layup.)

4. Always keep your eyes glued to the rim. This will not only make it easier to get your shot off quickly but will also help you sell your shot fake.

Once you have mastered this move it can be used nearly anywhere in the half court and is also very effective in transition. As with all good attacking moves make sure you work on the step back while going both right and left.

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