Strategies to Counter Defensive Pressure

There are two areas in which coaches can prepare their teams to counter defensive pressure: (1) drilling certain fundamentals and (2) integrating pressure release schemes within your system. Individual defensive pressure can be thwarted through mastering ball skill fundamentals. In particular, executing ball handling drills and passing routines with heavy ball pressure and contact. Be sure the players are equally skilled with both hands by getting reps of ball skills on both sides of the floor. A simple but effective passing technique is to always have your players “fake a pass to make a pass.” The receiver of the pass must likewise create a lead with a v-cut and he/she should always meet the pass with two hands.

As defensive pressure relates to a trapping double team, drill the options of attacking two defenders. A dribble “crab-out” into a pass or into turning the corner on the slower defender are both effective ways to handle a perimeter double team. If trapped in a dead-ball situation, drill the skill of chinning the basketball to split the double-team with a step-through pass. If a post is doubled at the low block, teammates should communicate “double” and the post player should skip pass to the weak-side diagonal wing.

Another way coaches can help their team counter defensive pressure is to incorporate schemes or strategies to relieve pressure. For example, creating an offensive situation in which there is on-ball action of a post setting an on-ball for a guard (“big on small” on-ball screen). A systematic pressure release also involves back cuts. A general rule is to utilize a dribble entry whereby offensive player dribbles at their teammate on the wing, triggering a back cut. In addition, within your press breakers integrate a ball reversal trailer commonly dubbed a “point forward.” This post player has size and decision making skills to see and pass over traffic and/or the handles to attack the pressure off the bounce. Coaches should also remind their players to avoid dribbling into corners and picking up their dribble. This is an automatic trapping read for defenses. We also teach our players to avoid “two-point turnovers.” For example, when trapped and no alternative for a pressure release, the lesser of two evils is to take the five count. We never want to force a pass that’s an automatic two points for our opponent. Remember to regularly drill the ball skills and incorporate offensive schemes to effectively handle defensive pressure – the ball is golden…value it!

Monarchs' Heleyna Hill receiving a pressure release screen from Taylor Todd.
Monarchs’ Heleyna Hill receiving a pressure release screen from her teammate Taylor Todd.