Looking for simple basketball plays (esp. to get big man an open look)

m0ckduck

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
2,010
Hi all,

I've recently gotten pressed into coaching my son's basketball team (14 year olds). There was a problem with the original coach, so I had to jump in and get involved without really having time to properly prepare.

One of our more promising players is a tall, wispy shy kid. He shoots well and often dominates in practice, but lacks confidence and disappears in games against big, physical opponents. I want to build him up, since he's our best chance at generating easy offense. In particular, I'd like to introduce a simple play designed around getting him (and our other bigs) an 8-12 foot look at the basket. Something like a pin-down-screen-play where he can come off, catch a pass, turn, face the basket and shoot, rather than trying to establish himself in the post where he tends to get pushed around and psyched out.

If anyone has a link or diagram to a play like this they can recommend, I'd appreciate the help. Edit: and, more generally, if anyone has simple plays of any kind that they swear by for this level (14 year olds, most of whom have never run a play before) that would be great.
 
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joe dokes

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SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
31,405
Hi all,

I've recently gotten pressed into coaching my son's basketball team (14 year olds). There was a problem with the original coach, so I had to jump in and get involved without really having time to properly prepare.

One of our more promising players is a tall, wispy shy kid. He shoots well and often dominates in practice, but lacks confidence and disappears in games against big, physical opponents. I want to build him up, since he's our best chance at generating easy offense. In particular, I'd like to introduce a simple play designed around getting him (and our other bigs) an 8-12 foot look at the basket. Something like a pin-down-screen-play where he can come off, catch a pass, turn, face the basket and shoot, rather than trying to establish himself in the post where he tends to get pushed around and psyched out.

If anyone has a link or diagram to a play like this they can recommend, I'd appreciate the help. Edit: and, more generally, if anyone has simple plays of any kind that they swear by for this level (14 year olds, most of whom have never run a play before) that would be great.
As a tall, skinny kid once . . . 2-person plays, like backdoors and pick and roll, were always best to start. Fewest moving parts.When the bigger defender pushes(ed) him(me) out, he takes a step in the same direction like hes gonna get the ball out there. Pump fake by the passer, defender bites, your guy goes backdoor.
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
25,421
Hi all,

I've recently gotten pressed into coaching my son's basketball team (14 year olds). There was a problem with the original coach, so I had to jump in and get involved without really having time to properly prepare.

One of our more promising players is a tall, wispy shy kid. He shoots well and often dominates in practice, but lacks confidence and disappears in games against big, physical opponents. I want to build him up, since he's our best chance at generating easy offense. In particular, I'd like to introduce a simple play designed around getting him (and our other bigs) an 8-12 foot look at the basket. Something like a pin-down-screen-play where he can come off, catch a pass, turn, face the basket and shoot, rather than trying to establish himself in the post where he tends to get pushed around and psyched out.

If anyone has a link or diagram to a play like this they can recommend, I'd appreciate the help. Edit: and, more generally, if anyone has simple plays of any kind that they swear by for this level (14 year olds, most of whom have never run a play before) that would be great.
Clear out one side (send three other guys to the other side) and have him post up between the low block and the foul line. The passer hits him from the wing or just off the top of the key (whichever is easiest) and as the passer relocates (thus occupying his defender, who can't leave or double because then it leaves the passer wide open for a three), your big reverse pivots and faces up. It's extremely simple to execute and suddenly he's face up towards the hoop in exactly your desired distance.

Obviously for this to work you need:

1. The other three guys to understand their roles.
2. The passer to be both a pretty decent (and smart) passer, AND a pretty decent shooter (if he's terrible, they can leave him and double your big with no repercussions).
3. The big needs to be able to execute a reverse pivot and be able to both drive and hit that jumper from 8-12 feet.

Here's a bunch of moves he can do off this set. Not included in this series is an up and under and a host of fakes he can execute. And this player in this video is further out than you're talking, but the principles are exactly the same.

Modern basketball says the 8-12 foot shot is a bad one. I don't agree. I think if it's a good shot for him, it's a good shot. Especially at lower levels when threes aren't made at a very high rate. A good look at a midrange two is a good shot when guys don't hit threes at a high rate (which is usually how it is at this age).
 

m0ckduck

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
2,010
Clear out one side (send three other guys to the other side) and have him post up between the low block and the foul line. The passer hits him from the wing or just off the top of the key (whichever is easiest) and as the passer relocates (thus occupying his defender, who can't leave or double because then it leaves the passer wide open for a three), your big reverse pivots and faces up. It's extremely simple to execute and suddenly he's face up towards the hoop in exactly your desired distance.

Obviously for this to work you need:

1. The other three guys to understand their roles.
2. The passer to be both a pretty decent (and smart) passer, AND a pretty decent shooter (if he's terrible, they can leave him and double your big with no repercussions).
3. The big needs to be able to execute a reverse pivot and be able to both drive and hit that jumper from 8-12 feet.

Here's a bunch of moves he can do off this set. Not included in this series is an up and under and a host of fakes he can execute. And this player in this video is further out than you're talking, but the principles are exactly the same.
That's a nice simple action, and I can see us incorporating it soon. The problem is, at the moment, this kid's confidence is so low that by the time he's been jostled in the post by a stronger player and catches the ball with the defender draped on him, he's almost always bailing out and passing the ball back out to the guard. I'd still love to find something involving an off-ball screen where the screener effectively does the physical, dirty work and gives him a little space for a look at the basket, to help build his confidence and rhythm. From what I can see so far, most of the bigs on other teams are much stronger, but slow and not highly skilled, so it feels like we ought to be able to spring him loose.

Edit: to give you an idea of where this kid's head is at: during last weekend's game, somebody in the crowd said something mean about him and he wanted to sit out the rest of the game. So, I need to do some very basic confidence-building around game situations. As bleak as it is right now with his mental state, he has real Porzingis-type potential with his height, lateral movement and shooting touch. (Plus, he's just a good kid, so I'd like to see him succeed competitively.)
Modern basketball says the 8-12 foot shot is a bad one. I don't agree. I think if it's a good shot for him, it's a good shot. Especially at lower levels when threes aren't made at a very high rate. A good look at a midrange two is a good shot when guys don't hit threes at a high rate (which is usually how it is at this age).
Yes, I should clarify that this is a lower level team, so 8-12 feet is a necessary range to look for shots from.
 
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Otto

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Aug 30, 2001
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Anytime, USA
I will preface my response by saying that most of my guys (7th grade and 12-13 y/o) have been playing together for at least 2 years - and this will be the 5th year together for a few of them. And 90% of the time, I'm not having them run plays. We have different sets we use, depending on what the defense is doing (MTM, 2-3, 1-3-1, etc.) and run lots of different things from those sets. We see what's working and what isn't and we hone in on stuff from there over the course of the game.

That being said, one way I like to get my two bigs involved is by getting one at the elbow and one running the baseline - short corner to short corner. As the ball moves on the perimeter, the elbow guy will flash to the ballside elbow and the baseline runner will flash to ballside short corner, where he can catch on the move and face the basket from the short corner. The ball side block should always be clear - that means either three wings out wide or if we're two out, the other player below the FT line needs to stay weakside. Once the ball goes to the guy in the short corner, he can shoot, shot fake/drive, or he can pass from there. Once he hasn't shot or driven, he can hit the guy on the elbow, or that guy can cut to the front of the rim for a pass (if he doesn't get it, he needs to keep cutting weakside/away). If the elbow guy doesn't get it, one of the away wings can cut right behind the elbow cutter at the front of the rim. That gets us lot of good options.
 

DominicJD

New Member
Jul 23, 2005
23
Vienna, VA
Most of my coaching experience is with 8-12 year olds -- but you mentioned that these kids don't have a lot of play-running experience, so sharing what worked well at the lower level for me. If you've got a decent point guard / dribbler / passer who can bring the ball over half-court confidently, I like to run a simple 1-2-2 formation (putting people at the corners of the lane) and then do simple up-down or left-right picks to free up 2 passing options for the guard. Teach the whole team to clear out space for whomever gets the ball in the paint to avoid defender traffic -- and if the defense crashes down on the ball handler, have that handler pass out to to whomever has cleared out for a shot. When clearing out, have 2 people go out to the lower wings for easy pop-shots, while one person goes to the foul line as a rebound ball-hawk and one person moves back to between the top of the key and half-court to prevent breakaways.

Another option off the 1-2-2 set is to pick the point guard defender from the left or right to allow the point guard to drive the lane. The picker rolls behind the guard for a return pass / layup while everyone else clears out for potential outside shots.

Most opponents either play man too-tight which enables these pick plays to set up good free lanes when cleared out -- or they start to play too loose, which should then lead to easy outside shots on the left-right picks.

Good luck and have fun!
 

NomarsFool

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Dec 21, 2001
8,815
I’m facing a similar situation. I’ve worked on the pick and roll many times in practice, but we never, ever seem to be able to execute in games. I’m not a good enough coach to be able to tell you exactly why we can’t execute it. Sometimes it’s a situation where we are facing a “zone” defense. Many times we aren’t truly facing a zone defense it’s just a bad defense where kids aren’t staying with their player (I’m in a low level league).

Much of the time I think the kids aren’t confident with their footwork on the roll, and I personally have never done a pick and roll in my life so I’m not the greatest person to teach them. Is the footwork a super important factor here? Are there some drills or YouTube videos you’d recommend that reinforce the footwork? The other challenge I face in trying to teach this, and this is a challenge I find with drills in particular, is that without defense it doesn’t feel real but in a drill the defense knows exactly what you are doing so they hack the drill.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Mar 26, 2005
31,922
I’m facing a similar situation. I’ve worked on the pick and roll many times in practice, but we never, ever seem to be able to execute in games. I’m not a good enough coach to be able to tell you exactly why we can’t execute it. Sometimes it’s a situation where we are facing a “zone” defense. Many times we aren’t truly facing a zone defense it’s just a bad defense where kids aren’t staying with their player (I’m in a low level league).

Much of the time I think the kids aren’t confident with their footwork on the roll, and I personally have never done a pick and roll in my life so I’m not the greatest person to teach them. Is the footwork a super important factor here? Are there some drills or YouTube videos you’d recommend that reinforce the footwork? The other challenge I face in trying to teach this, and this is a challenge I find with drills in particular, is that without defense it doesn’t feel real but in a drill the defense knows exactly what you are doing so they hack the drill.
Yes footwork is key. Does this help (turn down the sound)? Lots of stuff on interweb about drills/concepts.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lNiTD0khv8