The chances are pretty solid that at some point during the course of your season you will go up against a team that will press you in the full court. As you scout any upcoming opponents who employ a pressing defense, the following questions should be asked. Once you can answer these questions, you can plan your attack accordingly.
- Is it a zone or man-to-man press defense?
This is the most important thing to know. If it’s a zone, study what type of zone so you’ll know how to attack it. If it’s man-to-man, learn whether you can simply clear out and dribble against it or if you need to prepare for some jump double teams.
- Where does pressure start?
Is it full court? Halfcourt? 3/4 court? Do they attempt to deny the inbounds pass or let you pass it in?
- When do they press?
Do they press only after made baskets or will they press after missed baskets as well? Do they only press out of time outs? Do they press the entire game or situationally?
- Do they defend the inbounder?
Does someone harass the inbounds passer or not?
- Where is their safety defender?
If they don’t defend the inbounder, they might utilize a safety. Is this player all the way back on defense or does he line up somewhere else?
- Where are they attempting to force you?
Are they trying to force you into a trap along the sideline? Do they jump the inbounds pass? Do they attempt a trap once you cross midcourt?
- Is the intent of their press to steal the ball and cause havoc or to simply control tempo and force your offense to start high?
Most pressing defenses are designed to force you into mistakes by playing at a pace you don’t want to play. Some, however, don’t force the action. They simply attempt to control your offense by forcing you to start out higher than you probably want to.
- Where are the holes or weaknesses in the defense?
Pressing defenses, especially zone presses, have holes in them. Most of the time, if you can get the ball to the middle, you take away their trapping and can attack with greater success. Is their a hole or weakness in the middle? Or is there another area to attack?
- Where are the double team areas?
This has been kind of touched on, but it is important to know where they look to trap. Do they trap the first pass? Do they trap in the corners? Will they attempt to trap anywhere on the court?
- Are they good at pressing?
Even though teams will press, not all are good at it. They may not have to be very good if, by speeding you up, you make mistakes. You can determine if they are good by how quickly they get into the press and how organized they are in execution. Do they seem well-conditioned to press?
Once you can answer those 10 questions, you will better be able to plan your method of attack. The biggest point to be made about attacking pressure defenses is to be prepared … scouting and determining how best to beat their pressure will get you on your way!
Are there any other tips or questions you ask when scouting teams that press? Please share in the comments below!