(English) There are some techniques that may help players to be more successful inside “the paint” and the coach may provide feedback to players on these techniques at an appropriate time. This type of instruction is usually most effective in response to situations that the player has been involved in.

“High 5” Follow through

Around the basket players will often shoot from various angles and positions. They need to be proficient with both left and right hand but literally will shoot sometimes facing the basket, sometimes side-on to the basket and at times with their back to the basket.

Some players struggle with the release of their shot, which we traditionally teach as a “snap” (where the wrist bends and fingers point down). Instead, around the basket, players may find it easier to release the ball with their fingers pointing up and their wrist finishing straight.

This type of release (a “High 5” follow through) should still put backspin on the ball, as this is important to “soften” the shot. It is particularly useful when not directly facing the basket.

Shooting off wrong foot

The key is often a congested area and the less dribbles and steps a player makes will often lead to a better result. This is also means that sometimes they are not able to use “perfect” lay-up footwork and instead need to jump off the same foot as they are shooting with.

Coaches should not automatically correct an athlete for incorrect footwork, although should check that the footwork was legal. Similarly, a player may shoot with their right hand on the left hand side of the basket and although we do not teach this, it may have been the appropriate shot to make having regard to their position on the court and the position of any defenders (for example, on a baseline drive, the player’s left hand may be behind the backboard!).

If the coach believes that the technique has disadvantages they can speak to the athlete about that or may even design an activity to “test” the technique. For example, a player may reach around a defender with their arm to release a “scoop” shot, which would be unlikely to be successful if there were a second defender nearby. The coach could design an activity that has a second defender, without telling the players. If the offensive player attempts again to use the move and is blocked the coach can speak to the defender about why it was unsuccessful the second time.

If the player learns that it will work in one circumstance (no help) but not in another (with help) and they learn how to identify each situation, then they should be allowed the freedom to use the choose as necessary.

Pivots, Fakes and one foot shooting

One cause of needing to shoot off the “wrong foot” is the pivot foot which the player started on may not enable the player (in the congestion of the key) to take the same number of dribbles/steps to do the correct footwork.

It is very important that offensive players learn the importance of using pivots and fakes to create space to shoot (or pass). Often pivoting on the heel and turning the foot, will make it easier for the offence to step past a defender. Being able to shoot off one foot is very important once the player has a dead ball, as they may still take one step past the defender. In the confined space of the key they may not have the opportunity to bring their feet together as they normally would before shooting.

When pivoting or stepping, the offensive player should keep their upper torso high and not crouch down. This keeps their vision up (which is important for identifying possible passes). It is equally important that they keep their knees flexed and their weight down. If they straighten their legs they will not be as balanced nor can they take as big a step in order to get past a defender.

Moving away from the basket

Often pivoting away from the basket will help to create space to be able to shoot because they are now side-on to the defender (so the “width” of their body separates them from the defender) and it is very important that they are able to shoot with either hand from within the key.

Defenders in the key may also “chase” or reach for the ball when the defender pivots away, and this creates an opportunity to then step past them (often using a reverse pivot).

Fake Slowly, Move Fast

Shot fakes in particularly can be very effective inside the key as the defenders are often keen to attempt to block the shot and will jump to do so. Once they have left their feet, they are no longer able to defend the player. A common mistake though is to make the shot fake:

  • Too fast – moving into their next move before the defender has had time to react to the fake.
  • Too small – not lifting the ball above their head (which becomes obvious to the defender!). If the fake is too small it may not be seen by the defender and accordingly they will not react to it.

Keep the ball high

Perhaps the most important thing in the congestion of the key is to keep the ball high. Having the ball at shoulder height (or at the forehead) will ensure that it is difficult for defenders to slap the ball away or get a joint possession. If the ball is held high, it will also tend to make the offensive player’s elbows stick out, which will help to keep defender’s away.

Importantly, the offensive player should not throw their elbows and attempt to make any contact, however having them up (and in their cylinder) is legitimate and will help to relieve pressure.

Without doubt, the more coaches create contested situations at practice the better the players will develop their skills of inside shooting. That pressure may be relatively passive (standing in front of a player so that they must step past) through to “game-like” pressure.