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How To Improve Basketball Skills
For Post Players

All players need to constantly work to improve basketball skills in all areas. We all know players spend lots of time shooting and ball handling, but few players really spend the time necessary to develop good defensive play - after all, good defense usually doesn't make the highlight reel, so most players don't place a great deal of importance on it. Of course, it's good defense that wins games, tournaments, and seasons, so maybe a little more emphasis on defensive basketball skills wouldn't be a bad thing.

Post players, in particular, need to play solid defense, in every game, making defensive skills a major focus for them. After all, if a guard or wing gets beaten on defense, someone can usually help them out and pick up the offensive player. But if a post player gets beaten, it's very likely there will be no other player in position to help out, and that means a basket scored against him.

There are several defensive skills that post players need to know, and to constantly work to get better at.

Improve Basketball Skills of Your Post Players:
Denying the Ball

Post players need to deny the pass in from the wing.

Proper denial position means one foot in front of the offensive player and one foot behind, with one arm stretched out in front of the offensive player.

The idea is to have a hand in the passing lane, so that the passer doesn't see a clear pass or, if he does try to pass it, the defender can swat it away - an offensive player is a lot easier to defend without the ball than he is with the ball!

Also important to remember: the defender must always have his body between the basket and the offensive player - a necessity that can cause problems if the offensive player cuts across the key and the defender has to follow - see the Deny Across the Key drill in the Defensive Drills section, as well as other practice drills to improve basketball skills such as this.

Improve Basketball Skills of Your Post Players:
Providing Help on Penetration

Not only do post players need to play defense on their own men, they also need to watch for teammates' men driving through the key.

If a guard or wing beats their defensive player, they're likely going to drive hard through the key to the basket. The only person to stop them then becomes the post player.

This is a difficult situation, because if the post player leaves his man to pick up someone else' man, that means the post player's original man is left open under the basket - not something we like to do.

What has to happen here is one of two things:

Post Feint

improve basketball skills - post feint
  • The post player feints toward the driving guard/wing, as if he is going to play defense on him.

  • One way to do this is for the post player to reach quickly toward the ball while stepping directly into the path of the player's drive, as if he is trying to steal the ball, before pulling back quickly to remain on defense on his own man.

  • The feint will hopefully cause the ball carrier to pick up the ball prematurely, either out of reaction or because he thinks for a moment that he can get a pass to the post player's man.

  • But when the post player quickly retreats to his original player, the ball carrier is stuck. What we are hoping for is a travel, bad pass, or at least an off-balance, poor percentage shot.

Defensive Rotation

improve basketball skills - rotation
  • The post player steps in to pick up the driving guard/wing; at the same time, the weak side defensive wing rotates down to pick up the post player's original man. The weak side wing's man may be left open for a moment, but a shot from the wing is better than a layup underneath.

  • Everyone else on defense rotates to cover open positions.

  • This will likely leave someone open for a moment or two, but if everyone on defense sees what is happening, communicates to everyone else and moves quickly, that player will only be open for a moment and hopefully the offense won't have enough time to recognize or capitalize on it.

The Post Feint can be done at any time, by anyone - it is a good strategy for trying to help on defense without giving up position to your own man. To use the Defensive Rotation successfully, it needs to be practiced by the whole team so they understand it well. Communication is key, as it is in most defensive situations, so that everyone knows what is happening and can react accordingly.

Improve Basketball Skills of Your Post Players:
Boxing Out and Rebounding

When the shot goes up, it will be the post players who are most likely to be in position to rebound. But too often, post players turn to the basket as soon as they see the shot released - bad move, since their opponents can push past them to get position and snatch the rebound away.

Post players need to box out their opponent before they move for the rebound. This is a fairly simple skill in that all the post player really needs to do is hit the man hard enough, in the right spot, to slow him down for a moment or so - to freeze him while the post player gathers the rebound. And since the post player - playing good defense - is already between the offensive player and the basket, he is in perfect position to box him out.

See the Defensive Rebounding page for a discussion of this, as well as the practice drills in the Post Drills section and the Defensive Drillssection for drills to improve basketball skills such as rebounding and denying the pass.

Post players need to work constantly to improve basketball skills such as these. There are more skills post players can use to improve their game, but these are a few of the basics and if post players know these, they'll be able to play a solid defensive game.

More ways to improve basketball skills for post players here

Go to the Better Basketball Coaching home page

"The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot."
- Bill Russell

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