Contributed by Brett Ayers. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, this is not going to be a diatribe on ways to insult or things that are offensive in description. When I speak to getting offensive, I am talking about first the getting open to get the basketball then when getting the basketball, regardless of your position, making yourself at least appear to be a threat from anywhere and everywhere on the court in the half court offense.
I see a lot of kids at all levels who simply are first running around sort of like a spinning top. They move at the same speed running in big loops round and round with little or no hope of either getting open and or scoring. Often this is a function of the fact they don't want to do either. Which to me is something I will never understand. I always wanted the ball because I always wanted to score and or help someone else on my team score.
I would rather a kid fail being aggressive than fail for being too passive with the ball and when procuring the ball when they are on the court. Nothing will bring my wrath when I coached quicker than a kid getting the ball and getting rid of it as quickly as possible. You can just see it in some kids eyes. They want to get rid of that ball like it is some kind of hot potato.
First thing to remember is this; no matter what position your play you should always be aggressive when receiving the ball. If you are a 5 man and get the ball at the top of the key putting it above your head and getting that look like your mother just yelled at you for catching it there and having this pained look like you will die if you don't get rid of it immediately is not a good thing.
Once you receive the ball the question is often asked by many coaches how and or what pivot foot should you use. It is actually rather simple. You use whatever foot is opposite of your shooting hand to pivot on towards the hoop when receiving the ball. This is very key.
One of things you see at least 3 to 7 times a game is a kid getting the ball on the perimeter and pivoting on the foot that corresponds to his shooting hand. So when he clears the ball through and makes a jab at his dender with his off foot he will have his feet backwards from where they usually are when he drives. He will then from habit will do that shuffle to bring his shooting foot forward and his off foot back so he can shove off his back foot to drive of course never dribbling the ball when doing this shuffle and thus traveling. It happens more often than it is called in the college game and in the pro game it is almost never called unless you are a rookie who was not drafted.
For example, if you are right handed and are catching the ball on the left wing, if you are looking at this facing the basket, you will execute a left front pivot into the pass if your defender is off of you and or you are on the move. But, if you are on the right side you will step into the pass planting your left foot first, then execute a left reverse pivot.
The key is first the pivot, the the clear. I see, once again, a lot of guys who catch the pass and do one of two things they should not do. They put it immediately up above their head and or they stand with the ball half facing the basket with one foot way behind the other. Once you step into the pass and make the needed pivot you have got to clear that ball through the defender creating space. You either bring it through low and underneath his arms and or right over the top of his arms. But you do it with authority and with power. I swear that if half the teams that faced Duke and Florida would just do this their lives would be so much easier offensively than to be afraid even before they catch the ball. Teams like that are often tough initially, but you clear the space and you get aggressive with them they will get back on their heels and will be vulnurable. A guy wants to crowd you, a nice swipe through with the ball around the nose area a time or two will do wonders for your spacing once you catch the ball subsequently.
Now, you have caught the ball and pivoted and you have brought the ball strong. What next? Triple threat position. I hear a lot of different things on this, but for me I have always found triple threat to be having the ball around and or right off of your shooting shoulder. From here you can go right up with the shot if you feel inclined to, you can pass and or you can drive.
Once you come around strong and put the ball in triple threat the next thing I like to see kids do is take a jab at their defender with that shooting foot out about four to six inches. First off it puts the offensive players in perfect position to rock right under the ball and shoot it if the defender backs up enough and or if he has his hands down by his side and not up. You also will be in perfect position to have your head up but still be able to, with a lot of practice, read his feet. If he is switching them you attack his up foot. If he is shading you one way or the other you attack the off side. The way you do this is being down in good basketball position, arse down and jab step taken you push off that back leg and in one motion put the dribble down. You explode off that back leg like a coiled spring driving out as far as you can.
Also, from this position you can and will be able to do all things team related a lot better, even if you are not going to shoot the ball from where you catch it. You will pass to cutters and to the post a lot better. You will certainly occupy your defender and maybe even get another defender or two to jump as well.
Being offensive no matter what position you are or what shots you possess is of paramount importance.