OFFENSIVE FUNDAMENTAL PRECEPTS
BYCOACH ARI FISHER
FORMER HEAD BOY'S BASKETBALL COACH AT UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL BATON ROUGE, LA LOUISIANA CLASS 2A STATE CHAMPION 2002
Having coached at every level of basketball with the exception of professional; I have concluded there are four fundamental precepts of effective offensive play. These precepts are necessary regardless of the offensive scheme or the pace at which you might play.
BALL MOVEMENT: Any offense automatically has a built-in advantage because they know the play, pattern or concept while defense must react to the unknown. When offensive players hold the ball or dribble in place; that eliminates the advantage. In any offensive system; the ball should only be held for a count of two. A player should catch the ball and square up to the goal; but should not dribble the ball unnecessarily. A dribble is most effective when used to: attack the rim, improve a passing angle, or to get out of trouble. Efficient ball movement involves getting touches in the post/paint area in addition to the perimeter. Middle penetration is one of the most effective ways to destroy a defense. The ball should never ‘stop’ with one player. When the ball is reversed side to side it forces the defense to shift. If the defense has to shift continuously; the chances of a slow shift or breakdown becomes greater.
PLAYER MOVEMENT: Closely related to ball movement is player movement. A stationary player is easy to guard. In offensive basketball, players should be ‘hard to guard’. However, players must move with a purpose. Activity does not equal achievement. Cuts should be precise and players should wait if they are receiving a screen so they can take full advantage of the screen. Cuts should be fast and hard to ‘create help’ which can further isolate a defender.
SPACING: Chuck Daly said “Offense is spacing and spacing is offense”. Effective spacing requires players to be anywhere from 12-18 feet apart at all times unless someone is setting a screen. Good spacing allows for better penetration lanes and execution of 1-1 moves. Even when employing a pattern offense (flex, UCLA High Post, Princeton), set plays (NBA sets), or running the various types of motion offense- solid spacing is paramount.
HANDLING THE BALL WITHOUT MISTAKES: For every offensive turnover, potentially four points are left off the scoreboard. In regard to offensive basketball, basic fundamentals of passing, catching, dribbling, cutting, pivoting, screening, and shooting should be practiced daily at game speed. Victory favors the team that makes the fewest mistakes. Less turnovers means more shooting attempts. I have always thought that the team that takes the most shooting attempts in a game has a higher chance at victory. Turnovers should not make up more than 10% of total possessions in a game.