Newsletter #239

May 11, 2022

Today's Quotes:   "Good defensive play is as much a matter of hustle, desire and pride as it is anything else." - Tex Winter

"My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions." - John Wooden



Today's Theme:  "Side Fist" - trapping the wing

As a surprise tactic, trap the first pass from the point guard O1 to either wing (O2 or O3).  Often it is not easy to double-team a good point guard in the middle of the floor.  So instead, we have X1 pressure O1, with X2 and X3 playing off their man, allowing the pass to the wing.  On the first pass to either wing, we aggressively trap along the sideline.

In the diagram below, the pass is made to the O2, and X2 and X1 immediately, aggressively trap.  X3 quickly rotates over to deny the pass back to O1.  X5 moves up to the free-throw line to deny a pass to either the high post, or a skip pass across to O3.  X4 denies the pass to O4.

Side Fist trap

We continue to trap if the ball is passed (or dribbled) into the corner (diagram B).  Here, X4 and X2 trap, while X1 denies the pass back out to O2.

Side Fist trap corner

X5 denies the pass to O5 (diagram C).  X3 plays half-way between O1 and O3, looking to intercept a long skip pass.  X3 and X5 must always be aware of O3 making a back-door basket cut, and must drop inside if that happens.  We give up the long pass back out to O1, but never the back-door basket cut.

Side Fist trap corner

When trapping, we are going for a 5-second call, a jump ball (but avoid reaching in and fouling), or try to force a bad pass or turnover.  Our trappers make it difficult for the trapped player to make a long pass, by "squeezing the trap" and getting their hands up high when the ball is raised up for a long pass.  Sometimes, we can tip this pass.

If the offense successfully passes back into the middle of the court (to O1 or to the high post), "Side-Fist" is immediately terminated, as we do not trap at the point or the high post.  We only trap along the sidelines (and baseline).  It's usually one or two sideline traps and it's done.  We immediately match-up man-to-man and play our usual man-to-man rules.

Use "Side Fist" as a surprise tactic, perhaps after a time-out, or a made free-throw, or with a new O2 or O3 substitution.  Also, this can be a late game tactic, when you are behind and need a steal.

The keys are: the trapping defensive players must initiate the action and be much more aggressive than the offensive player being trapped (without fouling), and the remaining three defenders must deny or intercept the pass out of the trap.

See:  "Red" - Trapping the Point and M2M Pressure Defense.


See "Competition in Drills, Your Greatest Tool to Improve Execution" - by Michael May of Practice Planner Live - a great practice planning tool.

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