Things to Consider

Some additional items for consideration are:

  • Ensuring that players know where on the court the ball can be passed and, in particular, whether it can be passed into the backcourt. Players need to be particularly aware when passing to a player near the middle of the court, as a badly thrown (or poorly timed) pass may lead to
    a violation if it is caught by a player moving from the front court to the back court.;
  • Knowing from where the sideline pass will be taken, particularly in the last two minutes of the game where an offensive team can call a time-out to “advance” the ball to the front court;
  • There is often more scope for defenders to aggressively deny the inbound pass, and offensive players using back cuts can be effective.


Safety Areas

There are two “safety” areas in the context of a sideline play, which, particularly for young athletes will be where most passes are made (see diagram 1) – to the middle of the court or toward the wing on the side of the court the ball is passed from. Few junior players can accurately pass the ball across the court.

(English) Diagram 1

(English) Diagram 2

(English) Diagram 3

(English) Players should particularly take note of how the inbounds pass is being defended. In Diagram 2, the defender (x3) has their back to the baseline which means they are preventing the pass toward the basket or wing, so that a pass to the middle of the court may be easier. Whereas in Diagram 3, x3 has their back to the opposite sideline, which makes the pass toward the wing easier.

(English) Another defensive method is for x3 to have their back to the inbounds passer so that they can see players cutting toward the ball and can deny those cuts.

This method is often used when the defensive team want to particularly deny the ball getting to one player. Here, x3 may strongly deny 1 from getting the ball, but not 5.

In this situation, having both players cut at the same time can help to have one of them get open.

(English) There are many structured sideline plays, and coaches that want to use a structured play with junior teams should make sure that they emphasise:

  • Players should “read and react” to the defence. For example, if a player is meant to set a screen, but their defender loses sight of them, then they should look to receive the ball;
  • It is usually more effective for a player to catch the ball whilst they are moving, rather than standing still. If they stand still (or cut toward the ball and stop), the defender will often be able to steal the ball;
  • After cutting to the ball, if a player does not receive the pass they need to move away from the area so that another player can lead to the ball.

Below is a simple structure that can be used with junior teams to inbound the ball from the sideline.

(English) Players 1, 2, 4 and 5 start in a loose”box”alignment.

4 cuts hard toward the ball, while 5 screens down for 1.

1 cuts off 5’s screen and 4 moves to the corner (to give 1 space to cut into). This movement away from the ball will often provide the opportunity to pass to 4.

(English) If 1 does not receive the pass cutting to the ball, they also move toward the corner, and 4 moves out of the corner.

2 cuts to the ball, and may move around 5 to create some “traffic” that may make it hard for their defender to continue to deny the ball.

(English) As 1 moves to the corner, and 2 moves toward the wing, 5 cuts toward the ball. This pass is often open because the defender on 5 is not as adept at denying a pass. If they do deny the pass then 5 can stop and “seal” to receive a lob pass.