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Basketball Strategies:
The Run and Jump Defense

Good basketball strategies are simple. I want my players acting, reacting, contributing constantly - not lost in thought trying to remember what happens next in the play. That's why I like simple basketball plays.

The Run and Jump isn't exactly simple, but it isn't very complex either. It is essentially man to man defense with a twist.

It will not work for every team, but if you have the right set of players, it can be devastating to your opponents. It was, I believe, developed by Dean Smith at North Carolina, and can cause lots of panic, chaos, and turnovers when done properly, and can easily result in your team getting a few breakaway baskets.

If you have five players on the court who are able to react quickly and be aggressive, this is something I would recommend you use. It can be a great basketball defense with the right group of players.

Basketball Strategies: The Run and Jump
Starting Off

  • players begin in man to man defense, picking up their assignments at 3/4 court

  • while everyone is playing tough defense on their man, they need to also be watching the rest of the court, so they'll know when the action starts and be able to react accordingly

  • defensive players on the ball or close to the ball need to play tight defense, denying the ball; defensive players farther from the ball should be leaning away from their men, prepared to move in the direction of the ball

Basketball Strategies: The Run and Jump
The Set Up

  • the defensive player on the ball (#1) needs to play hard defense on the ball carrier, pushing him to the side in the direction of a teammate

  • the teammate (#2) must deny the ball from his man very well - there can be no possibility of a pass getting through

  • the next closest teammate (#3) must also deny the ball, but can lean a little in the direction of #2.
basketball strategies - run n jump 1

Basketball Strategies: The Run and Jump
The Jump

  • when #2 judges the distance between himself and the ball carrier is appropriate - and before the ball carrier reaches the half court line - he flashes to the ball carrier, momentarily creating a double team with #1

  • the double team must be unexpected and very solid - the idea is to take the ball carrier by surprise, and make him fumble the ball, force a quick and bad pass, or at the very least, to pick the ball up and be stranded on the wrong side of the half court line

  • #3 immediately flashes to pick up #2's man, while the other defensive men adjust to pick up offensive men that have been left unattended to

  • note that there will be one offensive player momentarily left unguarded - this should be the man farthest from the ball - if the defense on the ball carrier is solid, the ball carrier should have great difficulty even seeing this man, and if a pass is attempted, it should be a high, lofting pass that can be picked off by the defense.

  • once the ball carrier has picked up the ball, #1 leaves him and finds the open offensive man to guard
basketball strategies - run n jump 2

Basketball Strategies: The Run and Jump
Scoring Possibilities

1. Steal the Rushed Pass

The ball carrier makes a panicked pass to the closest teammate - but the defense has adjusted, is able to pick off the pass and break down the court to score.

In this example, the ball carrier tries to pass to the off guard, and #3 steps in and steals the ball, driving to the hoop to score

basketball strategies - run n jump 3

2. Steal the Long Pass

The ball carrier passes long, thinking there is no one guarding the player farthest down court - but the defensive player guarding him forces the pass to be high, allowing a defensive player time to intercept it. The defense fast breaks to score.

In this example, the ball carrier tries to throw the ball long to his teammate in the far key, but #1 has recovered and intercepts the pass, leading a fast break back up the court

basketball strategies - run n jump 4

3. Ball Carrier Doesn't Cross Half in Time

The ball carrier is tied up by the defense, has picked up the ball and is stranded on the wrong side of the half, can't see a teammate open because of the solid defense being played, and time runs out. The defense takes the ball at the half and sets up their offense.

basketball strategies - run n jump 3

And I'm sure there are other possibilities as well, but you get the picture. This basketball defense depends greatly on the element of surprise - throw it in a few times during a game to rattle the other team, get a few points off them. But, similar to a press, you don't want to use it all the time, especially against a good team - they'll figure out eventually how to break it. Use it intermittently.

This is a great basketball strategy for a quick team - be sure to practice it well beforehand, so everyone understands what will happen - you don't want someone freezing and leaving an opponent wide open. But executed well, this will create turnovers and instill a little fear in the hearts of your opponent.

Find more Defensive Basketball Strategies here

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