Effective Low-post Moves in Basketball
Having a repertoire of effective low-post moves is essential for a big man to play efficient offensive basketball. Mastering these moves allows you to use them at will, based on how the defender guards you. But developing these skills requires hard work in practice, along with toughness, strength, excellent footwork, and desire for the ball.
Low-post moves are worthless without first learning how to establish position and receive a pass. Many times, establishing position on the low block is a greater challenge than the actual offensive move that you follow with. It’s also important to post up in the correct area of the lane, between the low block and elbow along the side of the painted area.
When posting up, the goal is to seal off your defender. To do this, you must have strong offensive position, with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, your butt out and low to make contact with the defender, and your back straight. If the defender overplays you to one side, raise your shoulder and arm to maintain the seal that you’ve created with your body.
You have options when you’re being defended aggressively in the post. The defender will often work to move you away from your comfort zone on the low block. Try any of the following strategies to create a seal down low:
- Re-establish position: Move away from the low post, then quickly re-enter and start over again.
- Screen and roll: Cross the lane and set a screen for your teammate on the low block. After setting the screen, roll to the opposite side of the paint and seal your defender.
- Face the defense: Turn and face your defensive man and step into him with one foot between his two feet. Turn and pivot, putting your butt into him to seal him off.
- Raise your hand for a lob: When your defender is fronting you, seal him away from the paint and raise your hand for a lob pass. A good pass will lead you right to the basket.
After sealing off the defender, make yourself a big and easy target. Your hands should be up and you should slide to maintain the seal if the defender’s working to get between you and the ball. Receive the ball aggressively by moving to meet it. It’s a good idea to catch the ball on a jump step, landing on both feet. Be sure to secure the ball beneath your chin once you catch it. From there, you can use either foot as your pivot foot and move in either direction.
The drop step is a simple move that’s used when a defensive player overplays. If the defender is overplaying to either the baseline or the elbow side, begin with a solid fake to that side before drop-stepping and pivoting.
However, if the defender overplays the elbow side, drop the foot that’s closer to the baseline a half-step toward the basket and pivot toward the baseline with one hard dribble for an easy bucket. If he overplays the baseline side, drop your foot closer to the elbow and pivot with a hard dribble.
It’s also a good idea to dribble with both hands to a jump stop. You should have an open baseline lay-up, or an easy middle-of-the-lane jump hook. Don’t be afraid to take it up strong the first time.
Hot Tip: Adjust on the Fly
Be willing to adjust to the defense and vary your moves. If you use a pump fake twice for an easy basket, your man will probably be ready for it the next time. Don’t be afraid to rise up for the baby jumper when the defender lays off the pump fake.
When the defender isn’t playing to either side, turn and face the basket, being careful to protect the ball. Based on how the defense reacts, you’ll have the following options:
- Jab step: If the defender reacts to a quick jab step, be ready to take an open jump shot.
- Baseline drive: If the defender’s playing you closely, take a hard dribble toward the baseline and go right around him. Be ready for contact and be willing to draw a foul.
- Pump fake: Show the ball to the defender with a pump fake. If the defender leaves his feet, simply step through the vacated space for an easy basket. This is a great way to draw a foul by creating contact as the defender lands into you.
For right-handed players, a quick pivot and turn on your left foot can lead to a quick jump hook. A quick pivot and turn on your right foot can lead to a turn-around jump shot. In both cases, you must practice this shot extensively in order to master it. A post player who can knock down a jump hook or turn-around jumper is a dangerous weapon on the low block.
Both moves begin with a quick fake in the opposite direction to get the defender off-balance. A good jump hook requires a half-turn on the pivoting left foot to square your shoulders with the baseline. Land with both feet, collect yourself, and then go up strong with the one-handed hook shot. Use your off-hand and shoulder to ward off your defender.
A good turn-around jump shot isn’t easy to develop and requires great agility to master. For right-handed players, pivot off of your right foot and square your shoulders with the basket. Fading away from the basket and releasing the ball over your head at the apex of your jump creates separation from your defender.
Take Your Time
A common habit for young players is to rush a quick shot, assuming the defense is collapsing. Instead, a post player usually has time to secure the ball, feel the defender, and collect himself before initiating a move. There’s usually no reason to rush a quick shot. Take a moment after receiving the pass to secure the ball under your chin and feel for the defense. Use your position to your advantage before deciding which move to use.
Post Moves Review
When in the low-post position, remember to do each of the following in the half-court offense:
- Establish position on the low block by sealing off the defender.
- Create a target for a good pass by raising your hands.
- Catch the ball on a jump step and secure it beneath your chin.
- Feel for the defense to see how they’re playing you.
- Collect yourself and make your move based on how the defense plays you.
If a low-post player follows each step without rushing, he can create scoring opportunities in the low block on a regular basis.