Man-to-Man Defense - Trapping the Low Post

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

You don't need to trap (double-team) the low post if the opponent's post players are not strong scorers. But trapping can help against a dominant post player who you can't stop 1-on-1. Here are several ways to double the low post. We first try to deny the pass into the low post. But the ball will get inside at times:

Trap with the Opposite Helpside (wing) Defender

This is our preferred method. Rotations must be quick, on the flight of the ball into the post. X3 should already have a foot in the lane in helpside when the ball is on X2's wing. When the ball is passed in, X3 traps from the lane, preventing a move toward the lane, as the low defender X4 prevents the move to the baseline. X2 denies the pass back out to O2. X1 slides into the gap between O1 and O3 to cover the skip pass. Note that we maintain a strong defense against the weakside post (X5 vs O5).

Man-to-man pressure defense - trap the low post Man-to-man pressure defense - trapping the low post

Using the opposite wing to double may make you susceptible to the opposite wing kick-out and three-pointer (diagram C). To defend that outside shot, the X1 defender closes-out on the skip pass, and takes the ball. If the pass goes to O3, X1 takes O3, while X3 sprints out to take O1. We call this a defensive "X-cut". X2 moves into helpside.

Man-to-man pressure defense - defensive X-cut

Trap with the Weakside Low Post Defender

We don't like this option. When the ball is passed into O4, the X5 defender moves over to trap. A smart offensive post player will make the quick pass to O5 for the lay-up (or dunk). Often X3 rotating down to cover O5 is late and you might have a small vs big mis-match.

Trap post with opposite post defender

Crowding the Low Post - Ball-side wing trap

On the pass from the wing to the post (O2 to O4), X2 hedges inside a couple steps to crowd O4. We don't like this for two reasons:
(1) Usually X2 is too slow getting there, and has a bad angle in preventing O4's move to the lane.
(2) This leaves O2 open for an easy, quick pass back outside and an open three-point shot.

crowd low post

Trap (and Deny) with the Defender Guarding Worst Offensive Player

Know your opponent. They may have two really good outside shooting guards (let's say O1 and O2) and you can't come off those two by helping inside. And let's say that O3 is not a good outside shooter. Here you can try using X3 as your inside post trapper, allowing O3 to be open outside, no matter where the ball is. Psychologically, I have seen this get into the open player's head (here O3).

X3 may be trapping from the opposite helpside area, or he/she could crowd the post if the ball is entered by O3. You can have X3 almost play as a 1-man zone inside, while still being aware of O3. This might work if X3 is a smart, athletic defender. If O3 makes a couple shots, you will probably have to abandon this strategy.

See the video below of Iowa's Caitlin Clark #22 playing off her man to help deny and trap South Carolina's dominant post player. You would think that if the ball-handler had any confidence in her shooting, she would take that wide open outside shot without any hesitation.

Also see: