You may not be a ‘pressing’ team, but it is good to have the ability to press at different points in a game. You may simply need to press towards the end of a game in order to come back from a deficit. You may also like to mix it up once in awhile to catch the other team off guard. Whenever you decide to press, the following points should be stressed to your players.
- When to Press
It is possible to press at any time but it is most effective to press after a made basket, after a free throw, after a time out, or when the opposing team is inbounding the basketball (after a turnover, etc). Applying pressure following these situations allows enough time to get set and organized.
- Control the Tempo
The press is generally used to speed up the opponent; to get them playing faster than they desire so they will make mistakes. Don’t just run around to speed them up. Give yourself an advantage by being tough and aggressive.
- Fake Press
This tip may get the opposing players and coaches thinking and preparing for something that won’t be relevant. A few minutes before halftime, throw in a press or a different press. If you rarely press, play a man-to-man press for a couple of mintues. If you zone press, change to a man press. If you man press, play a zone press. It may cause some immediate confusion but you may also get the opponent wasting time during the half preparing for a ‘different’ type of press than they will see in the second half. This will make your main press defense even more effective.
- When they Score
Whoever inbounds the ball for your team should grab it immediately out of the net, step out of bounds and look to pass it in quickly to the outlet or midcourt area to start your transition offense (fast break). This is often effective because many players will forget their defensive responsibilities after penetrating the press.
- General Press Defense Rules
- Assume a good defensive stance.
- Keep hands active and high. Force the passers into throwing high lobs.
- Defend the cross court pass. Don’t let those passes go unmolested.
- Stop the dribbler. ‘Guide’ him into a doubleteam.
- See the basketball at all times and anticipate the pass.
- Never pass up a doubleteam situation.
- Don’t let the ball beat you to the basket. If the ball gets behind you via the pass or dribble, hustle back.
Applying a pressure defense isn’t always about getting steals. The press can change the tempo and style of the game. It forces an opponent to play a type of game they may not want to play and may not have practiced against. An effective press can also increase your players confidence and change the momentum of a game.