Drill of the Week: Playing Off-Ball
In the last edition of Drill of the Week, we worked on improving our shooting. That article touched on the nuances of a pump-fake, dribble-drive, or kick-out and how those movements with the ball can lead your team to success. Those strategies are fantastic if you have the ball, but, of course, that can only belong to one player at a time. So, what is one to do when they don’t have the rock? Stand in the corner and wait for it? Watch the rest of your teammates?
Wrong! Have you ever watched Stephen Curry move off the ball? Sure, he’s electric with it — but he’s just as fun to watch without it. Running around screens, finding space, and executing the play to its best ability is often more rewarding than isolation basketball. But how can you join this elite club? As usual, try checking out our Training Center Article on the topic and figure out how you can start making things happen without the ball. Here’s our favorite excerpt from the article:
“Work to get open for easy passes and scoring opportunities. Depending on the offense you run, you may have specific sets, but work to keep moving. Run V-Cuts to keep your defender honest, look for the opportunity to go back door, and set off-ball screens to free up your teammates.
Make the defense work, whether they are in zone or man defense. Keep an eye on the ball because you may make a move that allows you to get an open shot. Too often, players make a great cut, but don’t look for the ball and the pass is never made. Maintain spacing on the floor to limit the defense’s chances for an easy double team or steal.
Keeping your head on a swivel to know where the ball and your teammates are is key to proper spacing. But make sure you don’t forget to talk to your teammates!”
Head to the link and you’ll find one final piece of advice: play like the San Antonio Spurs. It may seem simple, but it’s true — if you want to watch a full, complete basketball team, find yourself a Spurs game and kick back.
For over a decade, the Spurs have been tearing up the NBA with their succinct, generous, and hard-working offense. Nobody is ever standing still, waiting for a pass, or letting the defense dictate the game. Through screens, cuts, and perfectly run plays, the Spurs often get any look they want and that’s not an accident.
At the end of the day, your offense will live or die based on the efforts you make without the ball. Ultimately, that’s why you see so many isolation teams fail against team-centric game plans. With the most crucial part of your season on the horizon, make a promise to become a harder working off-ball athlete — believe us, it’s what fuels the very best teams towards victory.