The triple threat position places the player in a position that enables him to take advantage of multiple offensive options. The term triple threat comes from the three main potential offensive options a player has: shoot, pass, or drive. Players who get the ball near the three point line or usually at the top of the key puts themselves in a position to pose a triple threat to the opposing team.
A threatening offensive player usually has three main skills in his arsenal. The jab step, the shot fake, and the explosive step are all potent moves that can help a player gain a significant offensive advantage. A triple threat player relies on these steps to lose, slow down and misdirect their defender, thereby enabling the player to pursue other offensive options.
The Jab Step
People coaching youth basketball should always try to incorporate learning the jab step in individual basketball drills. The first step in performing a jab step is establishing the player’s pivot foot. Upon catching the ball, the player must decide which foot would be the one that would not move and would be used as a pivot. The other foot would be considered the jab step foot. This is the foot that moves off of the ground. The second step would be to angle the body in such a way that all triple threats can be viably performed. The most common attack position is one where the player holds the ball with both hands on one side of the body, the opposite shoulder angled towards the defender the body leaning forward to create some space between the defender and the ball. In this position, the jab step foot is usually the one that is closest to the defender. A quick jab step, without moving the pivot foot, usually makes the defender react and enables the player to “read” or misdirect their defender. Players should practice getting into a comfortable attack position and performing jab steps. The key to using the jab step is learning how to read the defending player. A defender who anticipates a drive after a jab step creates space away from the ball handler-thus opening up an opportunity to take an open jump shot. A defender who does not bite on a jab step would be vulnerable to a follow-up explosive step that would lead to a drive to the basket.
The Shot Fake
A shot fake is performed when the player goes through a shooting motion without actually jumping and releasing the ball. A shot fake performed upon catching the ball can make defenders jump, putting them out of a viable defensive position and giving the opposing player an opportunity to drive, pass, or shoot. Coupled with the jab step, the shot fake can be used to confuse defenders, catch them out of position and even occasionally draw fouls. Drills should start with stationary shot fakes (upon catching the ball). Players can pair up and alternate practicing their fakes against each other. More advanced drills practice dribbling, stopping then faking a shot as well using the shot fake to get the defender up in the air and perform a pass.
The Explosive Step
Learning the jab step and the shot fake is instrumental in setting up one of the most potent offensive moves in a threatening offensive player’s arsenal: the explosive step. The explosive step is like a jab step that is followed through. The offensive player is essential getting a first step in, beating the defender and obtaining an opportunity to create separation for a shot or a quick drive towards the basket. The key to a successful explosive step is to create a pause in the defender’s movement, usually through a successful jab step or shot fake, and then put the ball on the floor at the opportune moment when the defender is a step behind. A good principle to remember is body-body-ball; that is the offensive player places their body between their ball-handling hand and the defender, using the foot nearest the defender for the first step and moving one’s shoulder immediately behind that of the defender’s, thus protecting the ball and creating separation at the same time.
There are numerous basketball workouts designed to improve quickness, lateral movement, and body control-all of which are essential in executing the three main skills of a threatening offensive player. With rigorous and repetitive training, the fundamental motions of the jab step, shot fake, and explosive step can be mastered by almost anyone.