Baseline out-of-bounds situations are very important. Good inbounds plays can win you games. Bad inbounds plays can lose games. At the very least, you need an inbounds play to be effective enough to get the ball back into play. You can, however, often get an easy basket from your inbounds set.
I’m guessing the chances are pretty good that you don’t spend a lot of quality time on your inbounds plays. Sure, you might spend some time early on teaching the plays but after they have been learned, you might only squeeze a few minutes at the end of practice. That’s quite understandable if you have a dozen different plays from a dozen different sets!
Out-of-bounds plays from under the offensive basket are quite possibly the only situations where you know how the defenders will react. Regardless of whether they defend with a man-to-man or a zone defense, you have a pretty good idea of how they will react to your various screens and cuts.
With that said, I think that it is important to decide on utilizing a set or two that are similar in set-up. You might have one versus man-to-man and one versus a zone … or you might have a set that can be used against either. You might even have a special play or two that do not fit with your ‘normal’ set up. A lot will depend on the level you are coaching the ability of your players.
The biggest factor in choosing out of bounds plays or in designing your own is your personnel. Some plays simply won’t work with your current players, while some will work wonderfully. What follows is a list of important criteria you should use in determining what type of inbounds plays you will use:
- Fits your personnel
Your inbounds plays should be tailored to fit your players. For example, if you don’t have a 3-point shooter on the court, why would you run a play to get a 3-point shot attempt? Or, if you have a bunch of small guards, do you think a play designed to get the ball in the low post area will work?
- Similar initial set-up
By utilizing out-of-bounds plays that begin from a similar initial set-up, you are making it more difficult for the defense to know what you are running. If you run several plays from very different sets, teams that have scouted you well will know what you are going to do. Instead, if you have different plays from the same set, they won’t know for sure which movements you will make.
- Keep ’em simple
Too often as coaches, we try to come up with the perfect inbounds play and we wind up outsmarting ourselves. More cuts, more picks, and more screens does not mean more better! The simple plays, well executed, often work the best. The key is to execute them well!
Make sure your plays/sets have counters built in to them. If a defender is cheating in the direction you might be trying to go, use that to your advantage and break the other way. Having an intelligent inbounds passer and incorporating good eye contact with teammates can go a long way to getting an easy scoring chance.
- Safety outlet
All inbounds plays should have a safety valve. The safety valve is the player who winds up floating to the top to receive the pass in case the play fails. The safety valve is also in defensive position in case the ball is stolen and the opposing team breaks the other way. It’s also important to remember that the baseline inbounds pass can be caught in the backcourt and it is not an over-and-back violation.
- Easy-to-use signals
It may be a good idea to go beyond simply calling out the play from the bench. With youth teams, that might be okay as the opposing players probably won’t figure out in time what you are doing. Older, wiser players might recognize if it’s a play you called out previously. Also, if you play games where the crowd can get loud, you may want to use hand signals or even ‘flash cards’. You or an assistant can hold the card up for which play you want to run.
- Offensive rebounding potential
The best inbounds plays will put players in a spot where they are automatically in rebounding position. A good play will keep your bigs down low. On a play for a perimeter shot, it will put a player in weakside rebounding position. Baseline inbounds plays often create easy 2nd chance opportunities because a few defenders may be in scramble-mode trying to recover on the play. If you’re in position and attacking the glass, many points can be scored from these 2nd chances.
- Balanced floor
Keeping the floor balanced makes sense from the offensive perspective. It also makes sense from the defensive perspective. Similar to the safety outlet in #5 above, keeping your players balanced helps to deter a potential break going the other way off of a turnover or missed shot.
- Best passer to make the inbounds pass
This is common sense. Your best passer should be making the inbounds pass. Being the best passer is also about making the right decision. So your best passer should be a player that can make the pass, but also make the ‘right’ pass.
These ideas above will help you properly utilize and/or design your own inbounds plays. Are there any other criteria you can add to making inbounds plays more successful? Please share in the comments below!
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