Basketball Play - Opening Tip Play

By Dr. James Gels, From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
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Jump ball plays used to be more important when every jump ball was actually "jumped". Now with the changing possession arrow, getting the opening tip is not a big advantage since you will get the next possession anyway. If you have little chance of getting possession off the tip, just set up around the circle in a defensive line-up (maybe even two guards back) and concede the tip, but not a lay-up.

Tip off!

But, if you do have a strong advantage in getting the opening tip (a tall center or a good leaper as your jumper), here's a play you can try to get off to a quick start. A quick lay-up in the opening seconds can be a good psychological boost for your team. In a close game, little things like one additional possession and two extra points can be the winning difference.

See the diagrams below. Have your best jumper obviously jump center. Have your players practice this against each other to find out who is the best "tipper". Have a strong post player (O4) line-up on the circle on the offensive end of the circle. Have two quick players (O1 and O2) line up on opposite sides of the circle at the half-court line. One player (O3) stays back to prevent the opponent's fast break.

Opening tip-off play Opening tip-off play

As the ball goes up, O1 and O2 quickly release up the sides into the forecourt. Caution... if they leave too soon, the ball will be awarded to the opponent. I believe this is a risk worth taking because the refs won't usually make this call (and you get the breakaway lay-up). And, if the call is made, the opponent gets the ball out-of-bounds on the sideline and you can either set up your half-court defense, or attempt to pressure and steal the inbounds pass. You get the next possession anyway, so it's not a big loss for the opponent be awarded the ball (especially if you prevent them from scoring).

Back to the play... the ball is tipped to O4 who immediately pivots and passes quickly, or simply "redirects" (tips) the ball to either O1 or O2. You now have a 2-on-1 fast break and a great chance for the opening lay-up. O4 and O5 are "trailers" in the play. If the opponent gets the tip, things may backfire on you, and everyone must sprint back on defense.