One on one skills are critical to a basketball player, especially when in a basketball man to man offense set. The simplest basketball offense in the world calls for you to be able to go one on one against a defender. On the pro level, to accomplish a move and then finish the play is like an equation that must be broken down into parts to practice and ultimately master.
To explain further, a pro level player will break down the game into parts, such as, getting open (x) + triple threat move (y) + Side Dribble (z) + floater (c) = 2 points. All parts to a move must be practiced until becoming second nature. Before you can do anything else, you must master the art of getting open to receive the ball. Remember that as a guard getting open on the perimeter, you must always try and catch the ball exactly on one of the five perimeter spots. Do not let the defense dictate where you catch the ball. When you practice your shooting, always make sure it is on one of the five spots. When you get in the game you want to catch the ball on one of those spots, and you are now at the exact location of where you practice. Eliminating variables and making constants to every move, shot, and pass is what will lead to consistency.
Too often, players get the ball but the defense has pushed them out five feet behind the three point line. This is not ideal for several reasons: you are not a threat to score and you'll have harder passing lanes. You always want to receive the ball (in the half court set) where you are able to shoot the ball accurately. You will know your range the more you practice. Another thing to remember is that it should not take more than three seconds to get open, and that is pushing it. At the pro level in contrast to college the shot clock goes from 35 seconds to 24 seconds so for a pro it should never take more than two seconds. You must get open quickly, efficiently, and most importantly in timed rhythm with the passer. Do not start to make your move, or cut, too early. It takes practice and timing with your teammate but to get you started, do not make the cut to get open until you see that your teammate is prepared to pass it to you, otherwise you will go to make the move and the passer is not ready. The defender will catch up to you and denies the pass. (However, there is a way to get out of this dilemma which we will go over later).
The change of speed that a player creates on offense is extremely important. A player who drives down the court dribbling the ball as hard as they possibly can and then finally deciding to take their drive to a higher gear and explode even faster will not be very efficient. However, a player with the ball on offense who is driving down the court at a much slower pace, in relation to their fastest speed and leg turnover, and then decides to explode to a faster speed will be much harder to defend. It will make their fast look even faster.
Furthermore, many players let the defense get them out of rhythm when the defender gets physical, so as an offensive player you need to accept the fact as soon as possible that on offense,you, the player, must make physical contact with the defender. Sometimes when the ball is stolen, it looks like a bad pass, but, often times it is because the player trying to get open does not make contact with the defender and/or hold him off from stealing the ball. Remember not to make contact by using your forearm to push off, but instead use your shoulder by moving your feet into and away from the defender without raising the arm.
This brings me to my next point, which is to give the passer a target (hand farthest away from the basket) to throw to you. You should remember as a side note that your goal when catching the basketball is to always put the ball into triple threat position and face the basket like you mean to score. If you keep the ball up and do not look towards the basket you obviously are not a threat to score and so that will make the defender push up and pressure you more. Always face up the basket and look as if you mean business. At the last possible second, before it is time to catch the ball, remember to come to the ball instead of letting the ball come to you. Almost jump to the ball insuring that it is yours and this helps the pass not to get deflected at the last second by the defender. Always try to catch the ball with two hands, to ensure you do not commit the worst sin in basketball…a turnover. The guys in the NBA have been doing this for years and most of them have massive hands so that is why they catch the ball sometimes with one hand.
Getting Yourself Open
Now it's time to go over how to get open. The most basic of all cuts is the “V” cut. It is called the V cut because you literally make a v with your path if watching from an overhead view. Now, with all cuts you need to read the defender and see how he is playing you and where you need to get open on the court. If you are running a play, and you must get open on the right wing to receive the ball, in order to hit the big man posting up on the right block, and you are being overplayed, you cannot simply back door cut on the wing because it is too congested and you will run right into the big man and his defender. So, you must understand the offense, how the defense is playing with help D and rotation, and how your defender is playing you. Before that you need to know the proper ways and moves to get the ball where you want. With that said, at any point in your movement of the cut, if the defender is holding you, grabbing you, not letting you move, simply pause and then swim move the defender by bringing the arm closest to the defender going over the defender’s back in a circular motion while simultaneously bringing that same side’s foot over the defender’s legand backdoor. However, if there is no room for that you can get open against anybody anywhere on the floor if you do these cuts right. So, if you are on the right or left wing jog to the elbow (1 to 1.5 seconds) then burst hard off the elbow (like running a suicide) and get almost back to the same spot. You should be receiving the ball as you give the passer a target by your third step. Immediately bring the ball into the triple threat position. If you are v cutting from the top of the key, then cutting to the free throw line is a good point of reference to make your cut.Remember to stay balanced, efficient, (no extra steps or unnecessary movement.Should execute straight line cuts and not rounded cuts) and stay low. If you remember only two things about making cuts remember to make contact with the defender and change your speed. Do not make the initial cut as fast as you can and then back out as fast as you can because that is one speed. Going slower to fast is much better than going fast to faster because going slow to fast will make your fast look much faster. This concept also applies to your approach to off the dribble moves and many other things in basketball!
Next is the L Cut, which is great if you are on the wings and need to get open on the top of the key or vice versa. Why is it called an L cut you ask? Your path makes the letter L. Instead of making a sharp angled return to the spot where you started. This cut makes a 90 degree angle and so making contact with the defender is important, as well as change of speed. Another trick is not to give away where you are going on the floor by staring at the top of the key, in fact, work on your acting skills as you get to the point in the cut where you need to change directions and cut 90 degrees look the other way of where you intend to cut, or even talk to an invisible teammate on the opposite side of your desired cutting location and say something like, “I got your pick”. Take your forearm closest to the basket and use it to bring into the defender's chest before you cut, without pushing off! Already have it up so when you cut it is there, and you are not lifting it at the time of your cut. This is important, do no raise your arm in the least, use your feet to bring your forearm into the defender. At this point, push off the leg closest to the hoop and just like the V Cut explode to the top of the key in as few strides as possible. Right before the ball gets to your hands (on the last couple steps of your cut) try and turn your hips so that your feet are facing the basket squared up on the catch, and all that needs to follow is your upper body once you catch the ball by twisting your hips and ripping the ball immediately to triple threat position! Think of the twisting motion on the approach of the pass as how you approach a cut if you are running line drill sprints like suicides or seventeen’s. Just as you twist last second in these runs so that you can get a good explosion out of the gates, this is the twist I am referring to when catching the ball and facing up fast. Again, get right into a triple threat position and face the basket.
Next, is the Seal off and Seal off reverse. The Seal off reverse is not so much an actual cut as it is an important move you can do in coordination with any cut, and you can simply do it within a few feet of space, if you need to receive the ball and have no time to make the cut or if the defender is playing so tough and hard and holding you that you cannot even get going on your cut, simply step in between the defender’s legs with your foot closest to the passer. Take that shoulder on the same side and bring it into the defender without rising up that forearm, pivot off that step you did in between the defender’s legs and pivot spin with it opening up to the passer. It almost looks like a box out away from the basket. The Seal off then is taking the foot farthest away from the passer, and doing the same thing, take that foot step in between the defender's legs and then keep that forearm on the same side up and flexed parallel to the ground and into the defender's chest. Now, use your butt to box him out of the way of the path of the ball as it is passed to you and give the passer your opposite outstretched arm as the target. Seal off the defender until the last possible second before it is time to catch the ball remember to come to the ball instead of letting the ball come to you. Almost jump to the ball insuring that it is yours and this helps it not get deflected last second by the defender.
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