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Basketball Defense - Match-Up Press Defense

By James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook, @ http://www.coachesclipboard.net






The match-up press is a more complicated "system" of presses than simple zone presses. The match-up press was developed and fine-tuned by Coach Rick Pitino, originally at Kentucky. It is more difficult to learn and involves a fair amount of practice time. But it has the advantage of always having pressure on the ball no matter what press-breaker alignment the offense uses.

The match-up press is different from a zone press in that we have our defenders all match-up with someone when the ball is inbounded... much like man-to-man defense, so it doesn't matter what press-breaker the opponent uses. One tall defender is on the inbounder trying to tip the inbounds pass. The other four defenders match-up man-to-man behind their man (unless we are in a full deny pressing situation).

Rather than playing an area or "zone", our defenders follow a set of press rules. In addition to putting pressure on the ball at all times, we use helpside rotations and interceptors and several other tactics.... (1) force sideline and then "cut and double", (2) "run and jump", and (3) "run and double". Let's first discuss these tactics.

Keith Haske's uptempo basketball system

"Cut and Double"

We use the "cut and double" tactic along the sidelines. X5 will try to force O1 to speed-dribble up the sideline, and will then sprint ahead of and "cut" (stop) O1 somewhere along the sideline... this could happen either before or beyond the half-court line. X4 runs along with his/her man, even with the ball. As soon as O1 is stopped, X4 will immediately sprint over to trap O1. Oftentimes, O1 will spin backwards away from X5 and toward the sideline, and this is a great time for X4 to trap and actually steal the ball, since O1, while spinning, is "blind" to the trap coming from behind.

cut and double run and jump, and cut and double run and jump, and cut and double

"Run and Jump"

"Run and jump" techniques can be used not only in full-court presses, but also in half-court trapping, man-to-man defenses. We use it in our match-up press too.

One of our press rules is to run at and double-team the ball anytime the ball is being speed-dribbled toward you. This could happen in the middle of the court, or along the sideline. Ordinarily, we only trap along the sidelines, not in the middle of the court. So, in the middle, it's usually a "run and jump". In diagram A, O1 is speed-dribbling toward the middle, at X1. X1 sprints at O1 and contains the ball. If O1 immediately passes to O4, the defenders switch and X5 "jumps" to cut and contain O4, while X1 now has O1.

It is easier for X5 to jump to O4 because X5's momentum is going in that direction. It would be nearly impossible for O1 to turn around and sprint back to O4. So a "run and jump" is basically a defensive switch that occurs when the ball is being speed-dribbled at someone, and then passed. Now if O1 had stopped the dribble, we would have both X1 and X5 stay in the trap (a "run and double"), until the ball is passed out of the trap.

The advantages of running at the ball when it is being speed-dribbled at you are: (1) it may cause the speed-dribbler to turn the ball over with a ball-handling error or a bad pass, (2) it helps slow-down and contain the dribbler, (3) it could result in a dead ball and a trap, and (4) gives us a chance to "turn" the ball back to the sideline or the opposite direction. In diagram B above, we see that after the "run and jump" (diagram A), O1 kept (did not pass) the ball, and X5 has jumped to O4. Now X1 is containing the ball (O1) and has forced O1 to turn back to the sideline where we once again can try to "cut and double".

Here are several situations where we will "run and jump". See the diagrams below. We may trap the inbounds pass. If O1 immediately passes out of the trap back to the inbounder O3, X5 "jumps" to O3, because X4's momentum is going away from the ball. In the middle diagram, we have already seen above how to handle the "run and jump" in the middle of the floor. In the right hand diagram, we may at times "run and jump" the sideline dribble. Sometimes, our X5 is just not quick enough to cut O1 speed-dribbling up the side, so we may have X1 "run and jump" O1 instead. If O1 stops the dribble, X1 and X5 both stay in the trap, if O1 passes ahead to O4, X5 sprints forward and "jumps" to O4.

run and jump situations run and jump situations run and jump situations

"Run and Double"

A "run and double" can also occur when the ball is being speed-dribbled at someone. Since we don't usually try to trap in the middle of the court, we will use this more along the sidelines. As the ball is speed-dribbled up the sideline, our X1 defender comes up and "hits" O1, and X1 and X5 trap O1. Our X3 helpside defender will rotate over to intercept the next pass up the sideline, while our X2 helpside defender will sprint back to defend the paint (see the rotations below under "1-Up").

There are a few situations where we may "run and double" in the open court... (1) the speed-dribbler stops the dribble and we stay in the trap, (2) when the ball-handler is not a great dribbler and folds under pressure, and (3) at times, we will "run and double" whenever their best player receives the ball, just to make him/her work harder and give up the ball.

Note that a "run and double" becomes a "run and jump" as soon as the ball is passed out of the double-team.

run and double

You can imagine that with using the tactics described above, the match-up press entails some risk and you have to be willing to accept that you might give up a few lay-ups in transition. But, overall when run effectively with energy, you will gain in turnovers, interceptions, and your own lay-ups. Additionally, over the course of the game, the opponent will become fatigued. Thus to run this press, your athletes must be well-conditioned, and it helps greatly to have a deep bench.


Post Players as "Frontline" Defenders in the Press

Many coaches are at first surprised that we use our two post players in the back-court guarding the inbounder and the player receiving the inbounds (first) pass, rather than two quicker guards. The reasons for this are:


Already we can see things are a lot different with this press than with a zone press. I will discuss the various alignments and adjustments later, but first there are basic press rules that apply to all of the variations.

Basic Press Rules



Specific Match-up Presses, Numbering System

We break the court into four segments. Full-court = "80", 3/4 court = "60", 1/2 court = "40", and 1/4 court = "20". An "80" press would be a full-court match-up with a man defending the inbounder. A "60" press would have the man guarding the inbouder drop back to the free-throw line (3/4 court press). A half-court press would be a "40" press. A standard half-court defense would be your "20" defense. Our "80" match-up press may be setup in a 1-Up, 2-Up, 3-Up, or 4-Up alignment depending on how the offense is positioned in their press-breaker. Additionally, our deny presses are "81" (full-court deny) and "61" (3/4 court deny). We also have an adjustment called "Staggered".

"80" Match-up Press vs "1-Up"

See the 1-Up diagrams below. Use the press rules described above. We will allow the inbounds pass into the corner. Usually we will not trap the corner in 1-Up since the offense can easily reverse the ball back to the inbounder. Diagram A is the more common situation... as the ball is passed in, X4 sprints to get above the ball. X5 tries to get O1 to speed dribble. If the dribble goes up the sideline, X1 sprints up to double team along the side with X5. In this case, X3 moves to the ball-side sideline to become an interceptor of the next pass up the sideline, while X2 now sprints back to become the helpside safety (X3's original spot).

Match-up press defense, 1-Up Match-up press defense, 1-Up Match-up press defense, 1-Up

If instead of going up the sideline, the dribbler goes around X5 toward the middle (toward X4 who is above the ball), X4 should be in excellent position to "run and jump" and "hit" (stop) the ball, and X4 and X5 look to trap, while X2 and X1 become interceptors. X3 stays back as safety.

We may occasionally trap the first pass in the corner if the inbounder is not a good ball-handler and we want to make him/her handle the ball (see Diagram C). Diagram C, if the ball is passed inbounds below the block in the corner X4 and X5 will trap the corner, while X2 and X1 become interceptors. X3 is back.

There may be times when X5 is containing well up the sideline and we want to "cut and double". If X4 follows the rule of "staying above the ball", he/she can watch to see if X5 is able to cut (stop) the ball or causes the ball-handler to spin or turn to the middle. If quick enough, X4 can anticipate this and immediately "hit" the ball there on the side with X5. In this situation, X2 has to understand the situation. If X3 has rotated over to the ball-side sideline, then X2 must be the back defender. But if X3 "stays", X2 can become a middle interceptor when the ball is trapped on the sideline by X4 and X5.



"80" Match-up Press vs "2-Up"

Here the offense has two players up at the free-throw line area. Following our rule ("play someone"), we match-up accordingly, and X2 moves up to the free-throw line. All the same press rules apply. X3 may have to move up to half-court to play his/her man, but realizing that if someone goes long, X3 must get back to prevent the layup. If the inbounder runs the baseline and the ball moves up the X3's side, then X1 becomes the safety.

If the ball is passed into the corner below the block, we will definitely trap this with X4 and X5, while X2 plays the gap between O2 and the inbounder. If X2 can get the interception back to the inbounder, that's great. But X2 has to be sure he/she can get it, or the press is beaten. If X2 recognizes that he/she cannot get the reverse pass, X2 should then just contain the ball while all other defenders rotate.

If the ball is speed-dribbled up the right sideline, the same press rules apply with X5 containing or chasing, X1 will "hit" looking to trap up the side with X5, while X3 rotates over looking to intercept the next pass up the sideline. Notice that X2, once he/she sees the ball going up the sideline, must immediately sprint back as once again X2 becomes the helpside back safetly.

Match-up press defense, 2-Up


"80" Match-up Press vs "3-Up"

Here the press offense has three players up at the free-throw line area... (more)

"80" Match-up Press vs "4-Up"

This is how we match-up with the 4-across press-breaker... (more)

Sometimes we see a "double-stack" press offense... this is still a "4-Up" situation... (more)

"Staggered" Match-up Press

This an adjustment we make when the offense shows "2-up" and also with two players deep... (more)

"Deny" Presses

There are times when we want to deny the inbounds pass, looking for the steal or 5-second call... (more)

"81" Deny Press

"81" is a full-court deny press with X4 playing the inbounder trying to tip the inbounds pass (see diagrams below)... (more)

"61" Deny Press

"61" is a 3/4 court deny press with everything the same as in "81" except now X4 moves off the inbounder... (more)

"41" Trap

"41" is a half-court trap that we might run in special situations, like after a missed free-throw. We try to trap the ball as it comes across half-court, in the half-court corner on either side... (more)

"88"

"88" press defense is simply a full-court man-to-man defense where each player matches up with his/her person man-to-man over the entire court... (more)

Become a Premium Member or get the Deluxe CD or downloads to get the complete article and animation. This complete article also includes these press tactics:

In summary, this match-up press system is complicated and requires a lot of practice time. To use this system, you must be fully committed to being a pressing team, most of the game and most of the season. Like any press, there are risks and rewards. When run aggressively with energy, you are on the attack and setting the game tempo. Coaches must learn how to make press adjustments during the course of the game, depending on the opponent's press offense. For example, sometimes changing from "80" to "61" can have a big effect.


Related pages: Match-up Press Drills

Drill Progression for Teaching the Match-Up Press Defense



Helpful DVDs:


Coach Donovan teaches the matchup press

Billy Donovan: Mastering the Full-Court Match-Up Press
with Billy Donovan, University of Florida Head Coach; 2007 & 2006 NCAA Champions, 2000 NCAA Runner-up; One of only two people ever to serve as head coach, assistant coach, and player in a Final Four
This defense has been the cornerstone of one of the most successful coaches and programs in the country. Coach Donovan walks you through his 2-2-1 full-court man press with stunting, and the 1-2-1-1 pressure defense. Using on-court demonstration and game film Donovan details each player's responsibilities, when and how to trap, and transitional coverage once the press has been broken. Included are basic coverages for all press breaks and breakdown drills... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now from the Coach's Clipboard Basketball DVD - Video Store!


Simplified Run & Jump Press

Simplified Run & Jump Press
with Forrest Larson, Lake Geneva Badger HS varsity coach
Coach Forrest Larson teaches the run and jump press with 10 drills that make the defense easy to teach. The basis of the run and jump is traping the ball down the sideline and jump-switching in the middle. Coach Larson emphasizes the teamwork involved in executing this man-to-man press. The defense is taught with drill work for the different methods of defending and attacking the inbounds pass to the techniques, strategies, and rules used to defend the ball all the way down the floor. The defense will force your opponent to play at an uncomfortable tempo... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now from the Coach's Clipboard Basketball DVD - Video Store!


Coach Pitino teaches the matchup press and much more!

Rick Pitino 4-Pack (including the Matchup Press)
with Rick Pitino, University of Louisville Head Coach; former University of Kentucky Head Coach, NCAA Championship and three Final Four appearances; former NBA Head Coach (Boston Celtics and New York Knicks)
This is a two-disk set with four sections, including the Press Defense, Offense (Ball Handling), Offense (Shooting Skills + Fast Breaks), and Man-to-Man Defense. Coach Pitino explains how the press works at all levels of basketball, how pressing basketball can force turnovers, and confuse and fatigue opponents. Also shown are how to create shots with pressure basketball and when to use the press. A variety of teaching progressions explain how fouling negates hustle, the 1-2-1-1 all out steal press, and the match up press. Included among the several drills are 1-on-1 full court, 2-on-2, 3-on-3, 4-on-4, and much more... (more info)

Price: $79.99
Buy Now from the Coach's Clipboard Basketball DVD - Video Store!


Coach Gonzalez teaches the matchup press.

The White/Black Full-Court Match-Up Press Defense
with Bobby Gonzalez, Seton Hall University Head Coach; former Manhattan College Head Coach
Coach Gonzalez teaches how to force turnovers, confuse and fatigue the defense, and how to create and capitalize on scoring opportunities using a relentless full-court man press. Using markerboard presentation and extensive practice and game footage, Gonzalez details the match-up principles, alignments, and trap options for the White press (run out of a 1-2-1-1 set) and the Black press which emphasizes all out ball denial. Gonzalez discusses how to use the White and Black presses to speed up the offense, get them off-balance, and force non-ball-handlers to bring the ball up the court. He also covers... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now from the Coach's Clipboard Basketball DVD - Video Store!


Coach Williams teaches the press.

Gary Williams: The Complete Guide to Full-Court Pressure Defense
with Gary Williams, University of Maryland Head Coach, 2002 NCAA Champions, Seven "Sweet Sixteen" appearances

"Full court pressure is the ultimate weapon in basketball." - Gary Williams

A game-tested, baseline-to-baseline method for trapping and applying pressure defensively! Coach Williams gives you an insider's look into one of the most potent and aggressive full-court defensive systems. A large part of Williams' success has come from his aggressive and intense style of play, which includes the full court pressure defense... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now from the Coach's Clipboard Basketball DVD - Video Store!



Copyright © 2001 - 2014, James A. Gels, all rights reserved.

Copyright © James A. Gels, all rights reserved.
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