‘The Hawk’ press keeps offenses at bay
“The Hawk” is a great press to use when you want to surprise your opponent. It’s different from most full-court presses, since The Hawk puts all five players where most offenses want to break the press: lane one or the middle of the court.
Presses usually put one defender over the ball and the other four in different areas, depending on the press. Instead, The Hawk tries to give the look that the sideline is wide open.
X1 and X3 have to move quickly to the ball and trap. X2 is the free safety and tries to intercept the pass back to lane one. If the ball is dribbled or passed out of the trap, X1 and X2 sprint to set another trap on the ball. X3 then switches to the free safety position. X4 has ball side responsibilities. That player is responsible for any opponent from the half-court line down to the baseline on the defensive side. X5 is responsible for any player going to the basket.
If the ball is skipped from one side of the court to the other, X4 and X5 stay with their defensive responsibilities. Once the ball crosses half court, move into a man-to-man. When in The Hawk, don’t allow the offense to relax for a second.
DIAGRAM 1: Defenders are positioned in the middle of the court (lane 1). They can set up in a full or three-quarter press.
DIAGRAM 2: X1 and X3 are the keys to the trap. When the ball is passed to either side, X1 and X3 must trap the ball. X2 plays safety and looks for a steal. X4 guards a ball-side player, and X5 guards the weak side.
DIAGRAM 3: If the offensive player passes across the court, X1 and X2 trap and X3 rotates to the middle. X4 and X5 guard their opponents in the assigned area.
DIAGRAM 4: Once the ball crosses half court, your players must know what defense they are in.
Use The Hawk early and late in your games. It surprises opponents because most teams have never seen this formation. You don’t need to have the greatest athletes, but you should teach players how to trap, proper foot movement and positioning.
Try not to use it too often, as with any other press the offense eventually breaks it. But if your team picks and chooses the right spots, The Hawk disrupts your opponent and leads to many forced errors.