- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches….And People, Too by Lason Perkins
- 5 Spain PNR Plays for Your Playbook by Lason Perkins
- Three Skills Every Guard Needs by Derek Brown
- 5 Strength Training & Plyometric Drills to Improve Rebounding by Alli Williams
- Tips for Running and Handling the Ball in Transition by Brandon Ogle
- The Art of the Outlet Pass by Frank Kilinski
- How To Play Off-The-Ball At A Young Age by Brandon Ogle
- 4 Tricky Basketball Moves That'll Keep You On Your Toes by Fran Kilinski
- Communication Between Coaches and Players by Kyle Ohman
- 56 GREAT BASKETBALL COACHES AND TRAINERS TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER by Alex Kirby
- Drills To Improve Speed And Endurance With And Without The Basketball by Fran Kilinski
- 5 Strength Training & Plyometric Methods to Improve Rebounding by Alli Williams
- Text from Parent to Coach by Derek Brown
- 13 FUNNY BASKETBALL GIFS by Alex
- Game Day Guide: How to Prepare for a Basketball Game by Brandon Ogle
- Coaching Generation Z by Derek Brown
- Top 4 Pre-Season Basketball Drills by Derek Brown
- My Failure as a Coach by Tom Kelsey
- How can I improve as a coach? by Tom Kelsey
- 3 Reasons Steph Curry Has Separated Himself in the NBA by Derek Brown
- By Brandon Ogle
Everyone wants to be the guy with the ball in the closing seconds.
However, after watching many great teams, I’ve realized that too many
of these “players” can have a significant negative impact for the team
overall. With this understanding, it’s not difficult to conclude that young
players need to develop the ability to play basketball without the ball in
their hands. There are so many situations throughout each game where
this comes into play.
MMA athlete and current UFC star Conor McGregor once said, “I stay
ready so I don’t have to get ready.” Although MMA is much different
than basketball, this concept of always being ready doesn’t change. Both
sports require you to make decisions quickly. This idea relates perfectly
to being a better off the ball player. Even when you don’t have the ball in
your hands, you need to constantly be moving and working. When
players start standing around, the offense quickly becomes stagnant.
Unfortunately, this happens far too often at the youth level. Young
players don’t see a need to move around if they don’t possess the
basketball. Whether you’re an outside shooter, a rebounder or a mid-
range player, keep working and stay ready!
Wings/Guards: Roll Off Screens
When I make the claim that players need to play better off-the-ball, this
statement has different implications for various types of players. I’ll
start off with wings and guards. One of the best actions they can do is
run off screens. In doing so, make sure you run off the screen so there is
no space between yourself and the screener. This will ensure you create
enough space from the defender. Then immediately after running off the
screen, get your head up and create an open passing option for the ball
handler. As I mentioned earlier, stay ready!
A second piece of advice is to cut at different speeds. You don’t want to
create an environment where your defender knows where and how
you’ll cut. This is easy to defend against! Always try faking them out by
taking a step one way before sprinting off a screen. In the end, from each
of these recommendations, the central interlocking element is this idea
that you must be constantly be moving.
Keep in mind that after you receive the pass, you’ll need to be thinking
about getting a shot off if you manage to get open. This video from
former NBA assistant coach, Hal Wissel teaches the basics on shooting
off the catch.
Bigs: Set Screens
Due to the nature of the position, bigs are often asked to set screens for
the wings and guards. Often times, it will result in opportunities for the
cutters and not the screener. All of this goes back to the concept of doing
actions for the greater good of the team. In the terms of the actual
screening process, make sure you stand firm and avoid falling victim to
a moving screen turnover. This will quickly draw the ire of your coach!
Sometimes, the screening process will result in chances for the actual
screener. In these, you may set a screen and then roll. Think of a pick-
and-roll offense here. In order to be effective with this, bigs need to
work on catching the ball, putting a dribble or two down and shooting
the ball. Conversely, it can be useful to take a step back to the three-
point line before executing a catch-and-shoot situation. Again, as was
the case with the wings, you need to always be on the move and ready
to make a play.
As I alluded to earlier, one of the biggest downfall for teams can be too
much stagnation. Players are just standing around and the ball handler
doesn’t have any open passing lanes to find a teammate. Frequent cuts
can eliminate this detriment. When cutting, keep in mind that the ball
handler might not always see you when you get open. Don’t let this get
in your head and affect your game, just keep working and fighting out
there. This is particularly important at the youth level. Young players
might start to get frustrated when the point guard fails to see them
when they’re wide open. Rather than letting this frustration boil, go and
tell your point guard where to look, in what might be a soft spot in the
Better Chemistry Amongst Teammates
Teams filled with players willing to play off-the-ball often possess great
chemistry in the locker room. Even at the youth level, every team will
probably have one or two players that are slightly more talented than
the rest. However, not everyone will possess the skills to handle the ball
a lot and distribute it amongst their teammates. This is why I sort-of
consider great off-the-ball players to be terrific role players. They
understand their role and are always willing to do whatever it takes to
come out of a game with a win. Although, some great off-the-ball players
are truly stars (think of Rip Hamilton, who will be discussed later), you
need everyone on the court to be willing to be a great off-the-ball player.
When players are playing for the greater good of the team, they start to
enjoy playing with each other since there is a greater sense of equality
amongst their teammates.
Rip Hamilton Example
In all my years watching nearly every level of basketball, one player I’ve
always loved evaluating is Richard “Rip” Hamilton. The former Detroit
Piston NBA Champion was a dynamite scorer, amassing a 17.1 scoring
average over his 14-year NBA career. A lot of these points came from
the topics I’ve discussed above. When playing with the Pistons, he had a
point guard in Chauncey Billups who had great vision of the court.
Hamilton was always rolling off screens and creating passing
opportunities for Billups. Upon receiving the pass, Hamilton wouldn’t
hesitate to pull up mid-range for the jumper. You’ll likely never find a
better mid-range shooter than Rip.
Playing off the ball ultimately boils down to always being on the move.
Defenses are going to look to get in a rhythm to where they are always
in the right place. Conversely, offenses want to disrupt this and keep
them thinking. Whether you’re a forward, center or guard, there is
always something to be doing. For young players, acquiring this skill
and knowledge can pay serious dividends as you progress in your
Other recommended offensive courses: