Press Break Skills: Passing, Running the Floor Key to Beating Full-Court Defense

One of the tenets of basketball is that a team cannot break a full-court zone defense by dribbling the ball. To break a full-court zone, teams need quick passes to get the ball up the floor and also the offensive team needs to hustle up the court to create two-on-one situations at the back end of the zone.

The four pass full-court drill teaches players these two steps and provides conditioning work at the same time.

Setting up the Four-Pass Drill

Since most zone presses are set up after the defending team has scored, the first key to breaking any zone press is by having the inbounder quickly get the ball into play before the pressing team has time to set up.

To simulate the team scoring, have a coach or assistant near the basket to make the shot to start the drill. The player who will be the inbounder starts on the block.

Another player will stand at the wing with another player at midcourt and the final player standing on the offensive end of the court on the opposite wing from where the outlet player lines up. The formation of the three passers will make a slash across the court.

The remaining players line up out of bounds near the player on the offensive side of the court at the wing.

Running the Four-Pass Drill

The drill is initiated by the coach putting the ball through the basket. The inbounder, who was lined up on the block, quickly takes the ball out of bounds and passes it to the outlet player on the wing.

The outlet player turns and fires the ball to the player at mid court, who passes the ball to the player on the offensive wing.

While that is happening, the inbounder sprints around the outlet player and down the sideline to the offensive side of the floor.

After receiving the pass from half court, the offensive player dribbles the ball inside the 3-point line and then gives a bounce pass to the player that inbounded the ball and is now sprinting down the floor. He takes the ball, without dribbling, and makes the layup off the bounce pass.

The player who inbounded the ball and then ran the court, goes to the end of the line out of bounds, where another player comes in to take the spot of the offensive player on the wing, who moves up to center court.

The player who was at center court becomes the outlet, while the outlet player goes down to the box to be the inbounder. The drill is run again. The key to the conditioning part of the drill is to move through it as quickly as possible.

Benefits of the Four-Pass Drill

The skills taught in the Four-Pass Drill are the basic methods for beating zone press defenses, like the diamond and one, and the 1-3-1 defense.

The drill, however, is not a play. For teams that like to run up tempo offenses and fast break type offenses more drills should be added to practices like the 11-man drill and other up tempo drills.

But what the Four-Pass Drill does offer is that it gets players thinking about moving the ball up the court and hustling from end to end. The passing in the drill teaches players to react when they get the ball and helps them to avoid the trap.

With the inbounder running the length of the court, it also teaches players to importance of hustle against zone press defenses and how to finish on the other end despite being winded from sprinting the floor.

About the Author Michael Jordan

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