Fundamental Basketball Skills
3 Offensive Moves Every Player Needs to Know

The offensive basketball skills a good player will be able to execute are fairly obvious: shoot, pass, and handle the ball. That's the norm, I would think, 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 player has the ball.

Considering that there are five players on the court at any one time on offense, with four of them wanting the ball, and 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 Gretzy 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 movements that players need to be able to do if they want the basketball.

Fundamental Basketball Skill #1: Cutting

Simple, right? You have to move to the ball or to the open space on the floor. How many times have we yelled this from the bench?

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 in the other 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.

Fundamental Basketball Skill #2: Give 'n Go

Basketball SkillsSetting Up the 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. And thus opportunity is born.

When the offensive player passes off, the defensive player will often look away 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 - the give 'n go.

And the crowd loves it.

Fundamental Basketball Skill #3: Pick 'n Roll

Done properly, this is a devastating little play that can be used again and again and is almost impossible to effectively guard against.

A good pick and roll 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.

Besides being necessary skills for players to get the ball, these three movements constitute most of the movements you will find in offensive plays - every set play I can think of is simply some combination of these movements spliced together.

If your players can master these three movements, they'll be effective in any game situation.

There are plenty of basketball offenses you can use to organize your team on the court, but every set play will almost certainly be some combination of these basic moves. Teach your players these fundamental basketball skills early on and their offensive abilities will soar.

"In life, as in sports, you will try, and you will sometimes fail. There will be no apparent reward except to know that you did your best."
- Charles Lawrie