Basketball Articles
3 Essential Moves Every Player Must Know

A good basketball player will be able to shoot, pass, and handle the ball. That's the norm, I would think, when we consider what a good ball player can do, and I doubt any coach will put up much of an argument against the importance of their players being able to do these things.

But these skills all assume one very important thing: that the offensive player has the ball. Consider that there are five players on the court at any one time, each of them wanting the ball, with another five players trying desperately to keep the ball away from them, and we now have a whole new problem:

how do our players get the ball to begin with?

Wayne Gretzky once said, "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be." I know I'm mixing sports here, but the principle still stands - ball players can't wait for the ball to come to them; really effective ball players will move to where they can get the ball.

There are three offensive basketball moves that players need to be able to do if they want the ball:

1. Cut.
Simple, right? You have to move to the ball or to the open space on the floor. But a good cut is actually a good fake and a quick sprint, not just a lazy jog to a spot on the floor. A good cut is a quick movement away from where the player wants to go, so that his defensive player starts in that direction, and then a burst of speed back in the opposite direction. Done right, the defensive player will be left a few steps behind, and the offensive player will be in position - alone - to get the ball.

Check out Fundamentals of Cutting and Faking

2. Give 'n Go.
It's a funny thing about playing defense - most players are really on edge when their man has the ball, but the moment the ball is out of their man's hands, the defense relaxes. When the offensive player passes off, the defensive player will often look for a moment in the direction of the pass, and/or straighten slightly out of his defensive stance. Either reaction signals an opportunity for the offensive player. A good fake in the opposite direction and then a quick cut to the basket will often set the offensive player up for a return pass and good scoring opportunity. And the crowd loves it.

Check out Fundamentals of the Give 'n Go

3. Pick 'n Roll.
A two man play - the player without the ball sets a pick for the player with the ball; after the player with the ball drives past the pick, the player without the ball rolls out - i.e., pivots away from the man he picked so that the ball carrier can pass him the ball.

Done properly, this is a devastating little play. It results in either an offensive man wide open in good scoring position with the ball, or in a mismatch that sets the offensive player up to take the ball to the hoop.

Check out Fundamentals of the Pick 'n Roll

Besides being necessary skills for players to get the ball, these three movements constitute most of the movements you will find in set offensive plays - every set play I can think of is simply some combination of these movements spliced together. Knowing how to do these moves translates into knowing how to run a play effectively, and should be the first introduction you give your players at the beginning of the year to offensive movement.

Check out Basketball Offensive Moves for more explanation and practice drills for coaching these fundamental skills to your players. If your players can master these three basketball offensive moves, they'll be effective in any game situation.

“We try to stress the little things. Because little things lead to big things”

– Steve Alford