Get Open! How to Move Without the Basketball

As a youth basketball coach, your main goal will always be one thing… to help your players to score as many points as possible, and hopefully, bring home a win for your team. Now, to score more points, your goal is really simple. You will want to use a variety of different movements to be able to get enough space available for a wide open and uncontested shot.

To get open, a player will need to use a lot of cuts and screens. It can help if you take the time to review diagrams of these differing moves so that you can better use them while coaching youth basketball to kids who may not always soak in information so easy without it laid out clear cut for them. (This can be just as beneficial for you.)

Once you and your players have a basic understanding of cuts and screens, you will need to learn some basic guidelines and tricks that apply all cuts and screens. We will talk a little more about this in a moment.

Whether you are already well versed in cuts and screens or are just now learning the ropes, here are some tips and basketball drills to make screens and cuts easier for you and your team…

1. Set up your player first.

You will need to set up your player before you use a screen. To put it another way, before you rub off a screen, you will need to take a step back from it in order to fake that you are headed in the right direction. After this, you can rub off the screen and do what you have to do. This action will get your defending player off balance and open up some space for you to move about.

2. Try to run screens shoulder to shoulder.

It is a good idea to run off your screens shoulder to shoulder. There shouldn’t be any space between the player and the person who is setting up the screen in the first place. This will make it difficult for the defense to slide through and get their shot in against you. Win/win.

3. Learn to read the defense.

Reading the defense is your best chance at getting a shot in and you will need to use this trick through each and every game to come out on top. If the defender cheats over the screen you have created, then you should flare in the opposite direction so that the defender will become stuck behind the screen.

If the defending player denies you the ball and they overplay the passing lane, then back door the player by cutting sharply towards the basket. Of course, these are just a couple of examples that you can play around with with your team, however, they should get you started. Practice learning the different ways that you can read the defense and focus on getting better and better at that as time goes on.

4. Mix up the speeds in which you are moving.

When cutting, you will need to vary your speeds to keep things fresh. To put it in another way, you may wish to take a few steps towards one direction at a slower speed, then you would quickly switch your direction sprinting off of a screen. This will keep the other team guessing and off balance, making it easier for you to score points.

5. Know where teammates are at all times.

Teach your players to know where their teammates are at all times. This will still, however, come more with experience and awareness of the current game you are playing. Don’t worry. It will take time but both you and your team will get there. Rome wasn’t built in one day.

6. Don’t stand still. Keep moving.

Though it sounds difficult, never stand still for more than two seconds at a time. (Trust us… it can be done.) This goes especially if you are a great shooter… keep going. Keep moving. Do NOT stand in one place for longer than two seconds.

7. Turn to video tutorials.

If you are still having trouble figuring out how to teach your team to move without the ball, use tools like YouTube to watch others moving without the ball. There are plenty of tutorials for screens and cuts and sometimes just seeing these tips work in action can help you to get how everything works so that you know how to teach it to your students accurately.

As you teach your kids about cuts and screens, be patient. It is difficult to learn to move without the ball, but it can be done when you take the time to really focus on the task at hand.


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