Sideline Out of Bounds (SLOB)

Notice: This article was written by Steve Jordan, Coach's Notebook. Email the author at

The plays in this section cover one of the most common, predictable, recurring events in basketball - the sideline out of bounds situation. It happens on numerous possession awards after the ball leaves the playing area, follows most time out calls and occurs when the second, third and fourth quarters begin. Your team will have the ball at least ten times per game in a sideline out of bounds situation. You can be content to merely get the ball inbounded safely, or you can plan to score on the play. Basketball is such a dynamic, unpredictable game. Why not master the elements that happen again and again?

Below are four sideline plays to consider. They can be used all game. But, if one works particularly well, its a great "quick hitter" to have in your toolbox when you have the ball and call time out with seconds to go in a close game. When you really need the game's last basket, it's nice to know you can call time out and start from a known formation.


Flat Four SLOB

Try this play first and see how the defense reacts to the flat four deployment. Some teams will follow each man to the baseline and leave the whole floor open for you.

The three takes the ball out of bounds. On command, B1 and B2 do a baseline cross. B1 breaks first looking to get open near the top of the key. If he gets the pass, the play unfolds easily. About the time B1 goes under the basket, B2 should follow his path to the opposite wing.

B3 should cut to the near wing position. Remember, the in-bounder is often the forgotten and may be wide open. B1 passes to whomever has the best shot. Thanks to Coach Steve Bruning of Stanton, Iowa, for pointing out that B2 must stay inbounds as he crosses the court.

Sometime B1 will have an excellent 1:1 opportunity if all the defenders are spread out. Look at the article Flat Four Play to see how this situation can be exploited.


The Escape Clause

All plays fail sometimes even if they are run well. In this diagram, if the pass is well covered, B2 can run by B1's screen and B5 can screen for B4 to provide more pass options. Remember, once the passer received the ball from the ref, there are only five seconds to get the ball in your other players' hands.



The Fence

The geometry is pretty clear. If the play becomes extended, make sure 3 and 4 don't camp in the key.
This play was born in a meeting where I was bored and started doodling. Your big guys, 3, 4 and 5 make the fence on the light blue line. We want B1 to get the ball, so we position him as far as possible from the ball.  If the ball is on the other side of the court, hold this drawing in front of a mirror. Practice it from both sides.
Here we added a defense in a possible m2m formation. If they elect to sit back in a zone, take a nice open outside shot. You don't need this play. B2 is our most desired shooter, so he will in bound the ball and get it back.

B1 should be easily open if he goes through the gate.
This play is called "The Fence" because B1 is going through the fence by using a gate - B3 and B4 (left). B3 and B4 can face B1. The trick is allow just enough room for B1 to pop through, then shut the gate and force B1's defender to go around the fence.

The defense may react in different ways after the ball is on the court. That's fine. We have the ball so we can make them do what we want.

B1 should pass the ball right back to B2 if B2's defender is slow to follow. This happens more often than you might think. Also, there will be a vacuum in the upper left area of the court. Can 4 slip in there?

If a mismatch develops, give B5 the ball. If Y4 sags  off his man to cover B2, give B4 the ball.
OK, let's say B2 was well covered after passing the ball in. B2 goes around the fence to the far corner using B5 as a screen. This presents the defense with a dilemma.  Either Y4 must pick up B2, or perhaps Y2 and Y5 switch. If Y2 tries to follow B2 around the fence, he will be left behind. No gates for Y2!
Let's say B2 reaches the corner and the defense didn't break down yet.  B5 uses B4 as a screen and rolls in.  If Y4 switches, B4 is open.

The defense is still holding? Man, they're good! So, B1 and B3 are in prime position for a pick and roll.  As B1 drives off the screen by B3, options will present themselves as the defense struggles to keep up with the ball handler. Possibilities include a shot by B1 or passes to B3, B4 or B5.

B2 must rotate to the top for fast break prevention and to preserve balance. If the ball is kicked out to B2, resume your normal offensive pattern.

Box Plays

Sideline Play 1

A few different opportunities develop in this play, so the in bound passer needs to keep his or her eyes open. The passes are rather long on this play, so choose the passer wisely.

1. 5 and 2 set picks away from the ball.
2. 4 hopes for an early shot, then moves out to corner.
3. 2 and 3 establish a double screen (or staggered).
4. 5 after screening for 4, continues on using 2&3 screen.

If 5 is not the player you want shooting a 3, switch accordingly.

Instead of shooting a jumper from the corners, give the in-bounder a chance to sneak in the key. Often this player is forgotten and may be wide open.

Sideline Play 2

This play uses high/low screens instead of side to side. Start with your big people on the top (elbows).

1. On break, 5 and 4 pick low for 2 and 3.
2. Sometimes the opponent will switch early. Watch for mismatch low right away.
3. 2 and 3 go high. Pass to either. If time is short, shoot now.
If you have a few seconds, there is a surprise finish.

4. 5 picks for the in-bound passer.
5. In bounder use screen for opening at wing.
6. If defense covers in-bounder, 5 will be open after the screen - like a pick and roll situation.

Stack Plays

There are a hundred variations of the stack at sideline. Use this as an example, then add variations. For instance, #2 breaks to his left 3 steps, then reverses to the basket going exactly between 4 and 5, who open the door for him then slam it shut for the defender.

1. 2 goes left for easy out
2. 3 uses 2's vacuum to go to wing
3. 4 rolls around 5 for lob pass at basket
4. 5 screens for 4 which is tricky because 4's man may just drop back. If so, 5 may have an opportunity if 4 draws 2 men on defense.