The days of sky-hooks and Dream shakes seem to have been replaced by 7-foot stretch 4’s and never ending lobs to the rim.
Guard play has unquestionably become the main focal point of basketball. We see it even at the youth level.
No one wants to be a big man anymore and kids and parents will lobby hard to become a point guard… “my kid is gonna end up being ONLY 6’9” anyway!”
And with the AAU style of pressing and fast breaking all game, every game, you don’t see a lot of teams taking the time to run offensive sets and feed the post.
There is no wonder we are seeing less skilled post players! Maybe I’m naive, but as the son of a 1970’s NBA 7-foot center and a former 4-man myself, I still like to believe that there is room in the high school, college and NBA games for a back-to-the-basket ass-kicker. Hopefully we’ll see a game changer drafted #1 next month.
All that being said, here are 5 keys to playing the low post position in basketball that can help younger players learn to become more effective on the court. Now if we could only get these AAU run-and-gun games to slow down and guards to feed us the ball!
How to Play Low Post in Youth Basketball
#1 Play Low and Wide
This may seem counter intuitive, but effective post players need to be comfortable in a down, athletic position. No, this will not take away their height advantage and if players are properly taught to be strong with the ball, this will not set them up to be stripped by smaller guards.
With the amount of contact that takes place under and around the basket, if a post player is not down and in a strong balanced position, the inevitable bumps and pushing will render a post player completely ineffective.
Young players must get used to having a wide, low stance. Yes it is uncomfortable at first and yes legs are gonna burn, but playing too upright is a great way to be one of those players that people label as a big softy.
#2 Don’t Be Afraid to Slow Down
We always teach guards moves that help them to change speeds and change directions. Those guards that are effective scorers have a tremendous ability to quickly change speeds and be deceptive.
A player that plays at the same speed all the time is easy to guard and the same goes for post players. Even before they catch the ball, post players should be deceptive when they work to get open.
Getting in a low post position shouldn’t be a non-stop wrestling match. With proper post footwork, reading angles and having a little deception in your game, post players shouldn’t have to pile drive someone to get the ball.
Coaches, please teach your post players how to get open!!! Young players also need to be taught that when catching the ball with their back to the basket, sometimes it’s better to slow down, be strong with the ball and survey the scene.
Believe me, I know what young post players feel like when they catch the ball and they have a bunch of aggressive, gnat-like defenders reaching and slapping. But if properly taught, young players can catch and keep their heads up before making a post move.
Even after making a move, it is ok for post players to make fakes and pivot. There is a fine line between playing too slow and waiting too long versus being deceptive, and this is a line that players have to learn themselves. But man, I miss seeing the fakes and footwork from players like Hakeem!
#3 Use Both Hands
This is a lesson that I was slow to pick up on. Even when I got to college, I was predominantly a turn over my left shoulder, right hand finisher.
In the college ranks, this was figured out by my opponents pretty quickly and my game suffered because of it. Young players need coaches that push them to practice weak hand post moves and encourage them to push through the struggles of missing shots in practice…and do it over and over and over and over again!
#4 Embrace Contact
As crazy as this sounds, growing up in Texas, if I wanted to play basketball in middle school, I was pretty much forced to play football.
I didn’t like it and my parents tried to fight it, but to no avail. As it turns out, football had a huge effect on my basketball game. I no longer feared being hit, pushed or slapped on the basketball court.
I came to love that under the basket contact and I began to initiate that contact most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think basketball should be played like football, but basketball is a contact sport and post players are going to get pushed, elbowed and slapped.
Those post players that learn to embrace that contact have the best chance at being effective offensively and defensively. Again, it is imperative that young players are taught to be strong with the ball and play in a balanced position.
#5 Run the Court and Crash The Glass
Ok, I realize that’s two keys, but both are strictly determined by effort. We hear it all the time, “the guards aren’t feeding me the ball”, “no one passes to my son when he posts up” and blah, blah, blah.
On one hand I respect the concerns and agree that young guards should be taught how to make a post entry pass, but on the other hand, I was taught from a young age that if I wanted the ball, I would have to go get it.
Throughout my career, coaches would praise my “ability” to run the floor. This was hammered home by my parents and only reinforced when I watched Karl Malone play (definitely watch the 0:50 mark!).
Sprinting the floor got my team and myself countless easy baskets and made me feel more involved in the game. But, it was something that I focused on and made a strong commitment to be good at….and it’s only running!!
Lastly, crashing the boards for offensive rebounds not only lifts up a team, but can lead to game changing plays. Good offensive rebounders refuse to be boxed out. Nothing is more frustrating than to see a big man take the contact from a box out and then give up.
“Well Coach, he boxed me out.” Bull! If you are truly hungry to get a rebound, one effort is not going to cut it! We try to teach post players the swim move to avoid a box out or spin off the box out or use footwork to get around a box out. Whatever it is, truly great rebounders REFUSE TO BE BOXED OUT!!