This article was written by University of West Florida Assistant Coach Brian Benator.
While the game has changed and evolved over the years to become more spread out offensively, I am a firm believer in having a strong inside presence that can take pressure off outside shooters. Having a low post scoring threat is key to a balanced offensive attack. Here are some key concepts that I think are paramount in post player development.
Run, Run, and Run
More and more teams want to play an up-tempo style, so it is important to be in great shape and be a good runner. Whether you are a longer 6’8” and 215 pounds or a bulkier 6’5” and 240 pounds, you need to be able to run the floor. Most of the time you will be a rim runner, but sometimes you could be filling a lane or running to the trail spot.
Especially on a missed shot, your guards are going to want to push the ball so you need to be able to keep pace. Being a great runner should be able to get you anywhere from three to four baskets per game. Think about that for a second. That is anywhere from six to eight points or more just by running hard. That can go a long way in close games.
Keep It Simple
It would be nice to have a Kevin Garnett or Hakeem Olajuwon where you are blessed with a variety of low post moves. It takes those guys hours and hours of gym time to do that. For our players, I like to keep it relatively simple —at least initially. I want them to master two or three moves and become nearly unguardable while using those moves.
Every day during our individual workouts and breakdown segments during practice, we focus on three moves. We work on these from both sides of the floor so we cannot be scouted easily.
Middle Jump Hook: We work on this with and without a dribble.
Counter: I don’t specify what their counter can be. It might be a drop step. It might be an up-and-under. Once we start our workouts, we will try a couple of them out and let the player decide what he is most comfortable doing. Once he figures that out, we stick with that counter and work to master it.
Turn and Face Jumper: We work on both reverse pivots and front pivots. We’ll also add a jab step to help create additional space.
Expand Your Range
In today’s game, it is crucial that forwards are more than just a low block scorer. While having an efficient low post scorer is always a great part of your offense, if you can make perimeter shots and become more versatile, now you have something very potent.
Now with that said, I do not mean that they must shoot 40% from the 3-point line. We work every day with our forwards on 15-18 foot jumpers. Primarily, we work from the short corners and the elbows.
Those are the areas from which we feel our forwards get a lot of touches and have opportunities to shoot. We will also work with our forwards on the trail 3-pointer. Again, it is not a shot that we expect them to make at a high clip, but we want them to have it in their game when the opportunity presents itself.
This one skill will translate no matter what level you play. Some of the best rebounders in the NBA are not great scorers, but they carve out terrific careers because they are relentless on the glass. One of Pensacola’s own, Reggie Evans, played 13 years in the league and never averaged more than 5.9 points per game. However, he made a long career out of being a great rebounder.
Rebounding comes down to positioning and most importantly, your heart and effort. One of my favorite drills we do with our forwards is the “2nd Effort Drill”. This is for offensive rebounding, which again can steal you two to four baskets per game.
I will have a ball at the free throw line. Our forwards will start at the elbow. I will shoot off the rim and they must chase the ball off the glass while one or two managers hits them with a pad at the basket. Once they get the ball off the glass, there are 5 finishes they must make.
- Score – Catch go right back up with the ball.
- Shot Fake and Score – Catch, strong shot fake with your eyes at the rim, and finish.
- Power Dribble and Reverse – Catch, use a low and strong power dribble to get you to the other side of the rim, and finish.
- 180 – As you run for the rebound, once you jump to catch the ball, you angle your body to where when you make the catch; your back is now facing the sideline towards the middle of the floor. Once you come down gather the ball, use your inside foot as your pivot, and step to the rim and score.
- 360 – Like the 180 finish, as you jump to catch the ball, you are imagining as if you got pushed off your spot by the opponent. When you catch the ball, you are almost facing the opposite basket. Now establishing your outside foot as your pivot, you turn towards the rim with a shot fake, then step through to a finish. This is the move that our players take a little time figuring out.
I always seem to catch our players scoring a bucket or two per game where they have gotten an offensive rebound and used one of the “2nd Effort Drill” finishes.
Having great footwork can really impact your positioning and how your score around the basket. Again, we start slow with our footwork drills and keep them simple. We do a lot of jumping rope and ladder drills throughout our pre-season workouts and during the course of our practices.
One of the best centers in NBA history, Hakeem Olajuwon, had arguably the best footwork in basketball. There is a terrific video that we show our forwards during the spring and summer months that shows a number of drills that can help your footwork in the low post. Here is the link to the video – Attention to Detail: Hakeem Olajuwon
I would rather work on a few drills and concepts repeatedly, than teach many different moves a few times here and a few times there. We work on the same low-post moves and perimeter shooting drills EVERYDAY.
Yes, sometimes a player may get a little discouraged or bored with doing the same things, but that is what makes the great players great. They master their craft to the point where it becomes unguardable. That’s what we strive for with our forwards.
Don’t Forget The Basics
It is so important to not forget about basic skills that all players, both guards and forwards, need to have. For example, you can have a deep seal and have great position to score the ball, but if you can’t catch it, then you lose that opportunity.
You may have snatched a tough rebound and need to outlet or even use a dribble bust out to start your fast break, but if you cannot pass or dribble then you might lose that opportunity. We work on dribbling, passing, and catching every day with our forwards.
It is so important to be able to have those basic basketball skills. No matter what position you play, you must be able to dribble, pass, and catch.
Playing off ball screens is all the rage in today’s game. If you watch the NBA and college basketball, so many teams are using ball screens. We work on playing out of ball screens every day. Along with the rest of the things we teach, we keep it relatively simple.
We use a lot of sprint screens in our offense, so anytime we do ball screen work in our breakdown drills, we use a sprint screen. We work mainly on four moves out of the pick and roll.
- Sprint screen, roll to the rim, finish.
- Sprint screen, roll to the rim, secondary move – we usually simulate this with a manager acting as weak side help, forcing our forward to catch, use a dribble to make a secondary move and score.
- Sprint screen, pop to short corner, jumper.
- Sprint screen, pop to shorter corner, shot fake and drive the rim – we use a manager to simulate weak side help to make the drill more realistic.
Like our low post moves, we work on these from both sides of the floor.
I hope you could pick something up that will help you as a coach and help your team. Our practices and workouts are always open so we would love to have you stop by if you are in the area. My contact info is email@example.com, so please feel free to reach out.
University of West Florida Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach
Brian Benator has been a part of the University of West Florida basketball program as an assistant coach since 2015. Coach Benator has also spent time at Young Harris, Fishburne Military School, UT Chattanooga, North Georgia College, and State University.
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