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Posted July 11, 2016

Owning the paint: Improvement for post players

By Kevin Sutton, assistant men's basketball coach, University of Pittsburgh

Own the paint. Don’t just take up space or clog the lane, but rather, have your players dominate this area of the floor. The better your team is on the interior, the more high-percentage shots you create and, consequently, it opens up your squad for three-pointers due to the need for the defense to collapse.

However, “owning the paint” is a phrase coaches toss around and players hear all the time. A player “owns” the paint when he or she dominates the interior with deep post-ups. A player “rents” the paint with simply posting up on the block. And, a player “leases” the paint by posting up off the block. To actually own the paint, a post player must do the following things:

  • Have the proper mentality
  • Be legally physical
  • Score against contact
  • Be efficient with post moves
  • Get to the free-throw line
  • Be a relentless rebounder

Terminology Sets Stage
We use 12 different 1-on-1 games in practice to drill our post players. During these drills, we touch on many themes, which are covered with the following terminology. Learn these definitions, then use these words when working with players during the 1-on-1 games.

* Mini-Lane. This is the most desired area to be as it as deep in the post as possible. Players need fewer skills when they are closer to the basket. 
* Mid-Line. The line that runs from rim to rim in the middle of the lane is the mid-line. It is a perfect area to attack.
* Post Across — Not Up. Post players must be big and wide to post across the defender and across the lane. Posting “up” loses the idea of being wide and makes it seem more like a height position. 
* Post Location. The post location is when players straddle the first mark above the block. 
* Fist Fight & Foot Fight. Players legally use their bodies and feet to be as physical as possible with the defender to gain position. 
* Leverage. The low player wins in the post. 
* Chin & Check. When receiving a pass, a post player needs to place the ball under the chin and check for defenders. 
* Pound Dribble. This is a low, explosive dribble used to improve the angle or position for making a pass or scoring the ball.

We also use professional players’ names to indicate the positioning on the court and the moves used for certain post-player series. The post players we use by name are Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. We use a chair as a defender.

* Shaquille O’Neal Series. Place a chair close to the block to work on the power and physical post game. 
* Kevin Garnett Series. Place the chair to the side of the block. The player catches the ball, steps away from the defender, faces up to the basket and uses either a front or reverse pivot.
* Tim Duncan Series. Place the chair off the block to practice reverse-pivot moves.
* Dirk Nowitzki Series. Place the chair in the high post to practice facing up and the triple-threat game.

12 Games Of 1-On-1
During the skill-development sessions of practice, teach and drill players on basic post moves such as the jump hook, drop step, turn-around jumper, dribble stop, Tim Duncan Series, Kevin Garnett Series and Dirk Nowitzki Series. These are the moves players need to use in the following 12 1-on-1 games.

After working on these moves, transition into some of the following twelve 1-on-1 games for post players. Choose games that force players to utilize the skills just taught in your practice to drive home the point of their importance. Be sure the 1-on-1 battles simulate game conditions, implement the moves learned during your skill-development drills and develop competitiveness.

In all instances of the following 12 games, once the ball is controlled, players go 1-on-1. You also can stipulate what post move to use (this works well if you were just drilling players on certain post moves).

1. “Baseline Touch.” Place one player at each elbow. Place a ball on a chair in the middle of the lane. On the command, both players race to touch the baseline, then fight for the ball. The first player to control the ball is on offense.
  
2. “Baseline Touch With Direction” Score Once. Place one player at each elbow and place a ball in the middle of the lane on a chair. The players race to touch the baseline. Upon touching the baseline the coach calls a direction. The players react to that direction, then race to the ball on the chair in the middle of the lane. The first player to control the ball is on offense. The game ends with either a made or missed shot.

3. “Baseline Touch With Direction” Score Twice. This is the same as the first two drills. However, if the offense scores, then that player remains on offense for another turn. If the defense stops the offense, then the defender is on offense for the next turn.

4. “Leverage” Score Once. Both players start in the middle of the lane standing shoulder-to-shoulder. The players begin to become legally physical by using their arms and legs to gain positioning. The coach points in a direction — right or left. The players react to the direction indicated, then race to the ball. The first player to the ball is on offense. The game ends with either a made or missed shot.

5. “Leverage” Score Twice. This is the same format as Drill No. 4 except that if the offense scores, then that player is on offense again. If the defense stops the offense, then the defense becomes the offense for the second go-round. 

6. “Chuck” Score Once. Both players start in the middle of the lane and stand shoulder-to-shoulder. The coach yells a direction (either right or left). The player on the side the direction has been called is on defense. The defense is allowed one chuck or hit while the offense does not allow the defense to make that chuck or hit. The offense gets the ball and they play 1-on-1 until a shot is either made or missed. 

7. “Chuck” Score Twice. The same rules apply from Drill No. 6 but if the offense scores, then that player remains on offense for a second turn. If the offense is stopped, the defender becomes the new offense for one game. 

8. “X” Score Once. Use this game to simulate zone post movements. Place one player on the block and one player on the elbow. On the coach’s command, the player on the block must touch the top of the key and the player on the elbow races to touch the baseline. They then race to the ball in the middle of the lane. The first to the ball is on offense. 

9. “X” Score Twice. This is the same as Drill No. 8 but if the offense scores, then it stays on the court to play offense again. If the defense stops the original offense, then the defender becomes an offensive player for this turn. 

10. “The Game.” An offensive player starts with the ball at half-court. That player passes the ball ahead to the coach. The coach returns the pass to the player for a shot. The player then rebounds the ball and passes out to a coach. The coach passes to the next player in line at half-court while the player just on offense turns into a defender. The two players go 1-on-1 until a shot is made or missed. 

11. “Backboard Touch To High Post.” The two players start on opposite blocks. The coach yells “Go!” and both players touch the backboard, then race to the ball located on a chair at the top of the key. The first player to the ball is on offense. The offensive player uses a reverse pivot to move into the 1-on-1 play with the defender. 

12. “Backboard Touch To High Post To Low Post.” This is the same movement as Drill No. 11 except after touching the backboard, the players race to touch the line at the top of the key, then sprint to the ball waiting in the low post in the lane. The first player to reach the ball 
is on offense.

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