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Basketball Offense - Attacking the Diamond 1-2-1-1 Full Court Press

By Dr. James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
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First see "Attacking the Full Court Press" for general pointers. Realize that the weakness of the 1-2-1-1 full-court press is up the sideline at mid-court. Use a 1-2-2 setup (diagram A). Stack two guards on the free throw line side by side or in a stack formation.

Two are at half court, near the sidelines. Oftentimes, you often like to go up the middle against the press, but in this case, always have a receiver along the ball-side sideline near mid-court. The point guard looks to the middle and the ball-side sideline for the pass.

1-2-1-1 press-breaker

1. Have one of your post players inbound the ball as quickly as possible after a made basket, before the defense gets set. Have the same player take it out each time and make sure he knows his assignment.

2. Get the ball into the hands of your best dribbler and passer. Optimally, your point guard O1 gets the ball in the middle, where he/she can dribble, pass up the middle or to the left side, or dribble and draw the defense and dish off. But often the center pass is not possible, so let's say O1 cuts toward the right corner. O1 looks immediately to the middle, or up the right sideline for the quick pass, and not dribble with head down into a trap.

3. The forward at half court who is opposite the ball-side comes toward the ball in the middle for the pass, and is a good target for a pass because of this movement toward the ball. A pass to a player moving away from the ball is often intercepted. The ball-side forward at half court should be in position to receive the pass along the sideline (see diagram).

Once O3 gets it in the middle, he/she pivots and faces up-court and looks to pass to O2 cutting up the left sideline, O5 on the right sideline, or back to the point guard cutting up the right sideline. Once you get those passes back to the sideline cutting guards, think "attack" and lay-up.

4. If the middle pass is denied - look up the ball-side sideline and pass to O5. Notice that usually one defender covers both O3 and O5 and will straddle between them. Teach your passer to make a quick pass fake to one, and then pass sharply to the other. The pass fake will get the defender leaning one way, and will open up your intended passing lane.

5. If nothing is open, you may have to pass back to O4 (diagram B). O4 passes either to O2 on the left side, or O3 in the middle, or maybe back to O1 on the right sideline. You usually don't want O4 dribbling unless he/she is one of those exceptional post players who has good ball-handling skills. But assuming O4 is not a great ball-handler, teach him/her to look first to make the quick pass left, and not just start dribbling.

1-2-1-1 press-breaker

6. The defense may change to a 1-2-2 by bringing their "prevent" man up to help cut off the sideline passes. In this case, the middle might be more open, and the defense is more susceptible to getting beat by the long pass. In this case, O5 goes long to the basket and O2 and O3 are at the sidelines at half-court. Use the "80" press-breaker.

Another way of beating the full-court press is to use your secondary press break (see "Secondary Break").

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