HomeBasketball DrillsFull-Court Transition DrillsMatch-up Press Breakdown Drills
HomeBasketball Press DefenseMatch-up Press Press DefenseMatch-up Press Breakdown Drills

Basketball Drills - Teaching the Match-up Full-Court Press - Breakdown Drills

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

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See the page on the Match-Up Press Defense. First we'll review the basic press rules.

Press Rules

This article shows how to teach the press using several breakdown drills. First we start with 1-on-1, then 2-on-2, then progress to 3-on-3, 4-on-4 and finally the 5-on-5 match-up press. Generally, we use these break-down drills more often early in the season when we are first teaching our match-up press system. Once our players get the general idea and understand all the press rules, we will mostly go 5-on-5 as the season progresses. Still, if we see problems with our press, we will go back to these basic breakdown drills any time we need to.


1-on-1 Drill

The defender makes the ball-handler speed dribble and tries to "cut" and contain the dribbler.

Stay on your half of the floor as we run the drill on both sides of the floor and other players will be coming back the opposite side in the opposite direction. Use an assistant or a manager on the opposite end to make the inbounds pass.

Match-up press 1-on-1 drill

2-on-2 Drill

See the diagrams below. Here we trap the corner with the ball passed in below (or even with) the block. We want our trappers knee-to-knee (so that the offense cannot split the trap), and we want our hands to be at the same height as the ball, without reaching-in. The ball will be passed out of the trap to the inbounder, who speed dribbles up the floor. The trappers try to tip this pass. In this drill we have a rule that the inbounder must receive the pass even with, or just a little above the trap. Our defenders now must sprint out of the double-team and try to catch or back-tip the dribbler. This drill is important because oftentimes when the ball is passed out of a trap, the trappers just stand there and watch for a moment... we want to teach them to immediately sprint out of the double-team and "stay-in the press". If our trappers will pursue, sometimes they can "back-tip" the ball from the dribbler.

Stay on your half of the court as we will run another group back the opposite side.
Match-up press 2-on-2 drill


2-on-2 Cut and Double Drill

See the diagrams below. Here we let the ball go inbounds in the corner. X5 will force O1 to speed-dribble up the sideline. O4 stays even with or a little above the ball. X5 sprints with O1, beats O1 to a spot along the sideline and "cuts" (stops) O1. This often occurs just beyond half-court, but could be anywhere along the sideline. As soon as X5 cuts O1, X4 sprints over and traps O1. Oftentimes O1 will give up the dribble and reverse pivot right into O4. In a game situation, X2 will be an interceptor of the pass out of the trap to the middle, and X1 will intercept the pass up the sideline.

Match-up press 2-on-2 drill cut and double


2-on-2 Run and Jump Drill

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 below, O1 is speed-dribbling toward the middle, at X2. X2 sprints at O1 and contains the ball. O1 passes to O2 (diagram B), the defenders switch and X1 "jumps" to cut and contain O2, while X2 now has O1.

It is easier for X1 to jump to O2 because X1's momentum is going in that direction. It would be nearly impossible for X2 to turn around and sprint back to X2. 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. For the purpose of running the drill, O2 will pause a moment with the ball while O1 and X2 move up the floor a little. Then O2 will dribble at X2 (diagram C). X2 sprints at and contains O2, while X1 jumps to O1. And so it goes up the floor, doing usually three "run & jumps" before the offense tries to score.


Match-up press 2-on-2 drill run and jump

3-on-3 Drill

X4 tries to tip the inbounds pass and does not trap the corner. Instead, X4 moves quickly above the ball (Diagram B) to (1) trap the dribble toward the middle (Diagram D) or (2) to become an interceptor of the pass to the middle. If X4 does not get above the ball, O1 could easily dribble up the middle of the floor. Also, if the ball is passed back to the inbounder, X4 goes up and plays the ball.

X5 tries to make the O1 speed-dribble. X1 goes with his/her man (Diagram B), but if the ball comes up the sideline, will come back and "hit" the ball with a double-team (Diagram C).

In this drill, the offense will get the long pass for lay-ups, but this shouldn't happen when we are 5-on-5 and have our safety back.

Stay on your half of the court.

Match-up press 3-on-3 drill


4-on-4 Drill

Now we use the entire court. This is the same drill as 3-on-3, except now our safety X3 will rotate over to intercept the sideline pass. Again, we may give up the long pass and lay-up in this drill. But when we go 5-on-5, our weakside defender (X2) will sprint back as our safety to intercept that long pass (see the Match-Up Press Defense for details).

Match-up press 4-on-4 drill

5-on-5 Drills

Now we work on our complete match-up press. We drill and match-up against various press offensive formations... 1-Up, 2-Up, 3-Up, and 4-Up. We also drill our "81" and "61" presses, which deny the inbounds pass. Depending on who our next opponent is, and what type of press offense they use, will determine which of these we are going to drill in practice that night. It's very helpful to know in advance what kind of press-breaker your opponent uses, because then we can drill against it and make adjustments... (more)

Get the 5-on-5 match-up press drills and several other "special" matchup press drills by becoming a Premium Member or get the Deluxe CD or downloads.

    Get these additional drills in the members section and on the Deluxe Playbook CD:
  • 5-on-5 Drills
  • Deny the Inbounds Pass
  • Switch and Deny on the Inbounds Screen
  • Deny Diagonal Pass
  • Defending the "Florida" Press-Break (diagonal cuts)
  • Defending the Point-Guard "Clear-Out"
  • Rotating for the Trap Beyond Half-Court
  • Recovery in Transition Drills (3-on-2, 4-on-3, 5-on-4)


Related pages: Match-Up Press Defense, Drill Progression for Teaching the Match-Up Press Defense


Several helpful DVDs...

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!


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!


Mike Anderson: '40 Minutes of Hell' (Vol. 2)
Mike Anderson: '40 Minutes of Hell' (Vol. 2)
with Mike Anderson, University of Missouri Head Coach.
Hard play and pressure defense are the backbone of Coach Anderson's teams. Stance, hands, balance and closeness to the offensive player are very important principles to Anderson. Using an overhead, Anderson diagrams his defensive system. Ball pressure, anticipation, rotation and trapping are key terms in this system. On ball pressure, trapping corners on the baseline, making the sideline an extra man, using the half court line, trap with opportunity, and rotation round out the keys to this defensive. The progression of this defense starts with 1-on-1 defense by using the zig-zag drill. The run-and-jump can be added to the 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 drill. Other practice drills shared by Anderson show transition situations, sliding drills, 2-on-2, run and jump and 4-on-4. Areas covered, many of which are reinforced with game clips, are full court pressure, trapping, and half court man pressure. (more info)

Price: $39.99
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!