TEACHING THE DROP-STEP
IN LOW POST OFFENSE
Whether I’m teaching post offense to a 10-12 year old novice boy or girl or an experienced 16-18 year old, I always start with the same technique tests from the low post.
I want to see how they move around the key as the ball moves around the perimeter. I want to see where they stand when they stop and what the path is they took to get to where they stop. I want to make sure they are facing the ball all the while, that their hands are ready to receive a pass and that their body balance is correct to protect the ball and to withstand defensive play. If they have trouble with any of these things, or all of these things, that’s where I begin to teach.
To begin this basketball drill, I want to see inside movement that mirrors the perimeter movement of the ball. For instance, start the post player at one low box, moving up the side of the lane to mid-post, then to high-post elbow, center high-post, other high-post elbow, down the other side to mid-and then low-post block. I want them shuffling their feet as they move, with wide stance, bent knees and upper body upright, while always facing out at the ball and with their hands in a ready, pass-receiving look. As they move, I will emphasize lane line rules and 3-seconds. So, when they stop in a position, I want the player to be sure the feet are placed outside the lane or FT lines—not touching the lines.
The Low-Post Block
This is where we will spend most of our time learning the post/center play basics. I want the player close-in to the basket and as the player grasps skills and progresses, we’ll then move all over the key.
Starting with a good stance and feet placed outside the lane line, I want the player’s low foot (nearest baseline) above or barely touching the low box. This will become apparent soon. Players should always be cognizant of where the lines and post markings are, as they move about. This comes with repetition.
I will have a ball and be toward the wing position, about half-way between the baseline and the FT line extended. I want the player facing me, in ready, bent-knee stance, on good balance, with the arms extended toward the ball, hands anticipating a pass. I will pass in to the post and have them take the ball in to the chest, pressing the ball tight with both hands, elbows pointed out (parallel with the lane line). I emphasize always keeping the eyes on the ball, looking the pass right into their hands, before they attempt any other movement. We’ll do this several times, until the player is comfortable with the procedure and until I too feel they can do the drill and move on.
Next, I will have them come across the lane from the opposite low block, watching me and the ball all the while, giving me a lead/target hand to pass to, and landing in the right position described above at the near low block. Balance, stance, foot placement, arms and hands extended and ready—everything we just covered—and then I’ll pass the ball to them. When they have this maneuver correct, now we begin teaching what to do, once they receive the pass.
Standing slightly above the low block, receiving the pass, I will now teach the player to drop-step toward the baseline. Earlier, I said the low foot must be above the low block. This will help the player to know the relationship between the player, the baseline and the basket. As the player drop-steps toward the baseline, he/she will be in direct line with and even with the basket. If the player was straddling the box or lower toward the baseline, when they took the drop-step, they’d be behind the backboard.
I will have the player hold the ball while I demo and explain the foot placement needed here. The high foot (toward the FT line) becomes the pivot foot as the player drop-steps away from the lane line and toward the basket (not toward the baseline). I want the dropping foot to point to the basket. The step is, quick, long and on balance. I will have them pivot, drop-step and hold this stance while I check these things. I often will be on the floor, holding the pivot foot in place. Other times, I might put my foot on the pivot foot, in order to keep it still while they execute the drop-step. I will also stand slightly behind the player, standing on their pivot foot while grabbing the pant leg of the low foot side, pulling them quickly into the drop-step.
Many players will at first attempt to pivot on the low foot, bringing the high foot around the pivot foot. It’s slow, it’s awkward, and easier to defend. It will not allow the offensive player to play off the defender, as I will soon demonstrate.
If, on the drop-step, a taller player is nearly under the basket, they may go right into a layup off the dropping foot. Most players, however, will need a dribble to get to the basket, so I teach the dribble with the outside hand when they pivot, which will be away from the defender. The pivot and drop-step must be quick, with the dribble accompanying the drop-step (not before or after the step). The dribble allows the post player to slide and get in close to the basket. This takes the drop-step and a second step sliding in quickly with the dribble. Without the dribble, this would be traveling.
We repeat this over-and-over, until it’s a nice fluid action—no single parts, but rather everything happening nearly simultaneously—finishing with a power shot (a 1-2 foot bank shot) at the basket.
Every step of the way, we practice the moves from both the right and left low blocks. This teaches confidence to attack from either side, while requiring a player to pivot/drop-step from either foot. It also requires the one dribble to be done with either hand and the finishing shot to be taken with the dribble hand.
We’ve drop-stepped to the base line and made a power move to the basket. We’ve learned to do that from either side of the basket. Now, we will do the same maneuver to the inside, across the front of the basket.
This time, the low (baseline) foot will be the pivot and the drop-step will be taken by the high (closest to the FT line) foot. The move is exactly as before. The drop-step foot will be pointed across the lane, the balance, etc., is exactly as before. The dribble is taken with the hand away from the basket (and the defender). When the feet come together, right in front of the basket, the power shot now is over the front of the rim, perhaps even banking it off the square above the basket.
Again, practice this move and shot from both sides of the lane, learning to step with either foot and to shoot the shot with either hand. Later we’ll add other shots and ways to finish. Right now we are concerned only with getting the basics of the drop-step power move to the baseline or across the front of the basket, finishing with the power shot.
The offensive player has now learned the how of the moves. Now, they are ready to learn the why behind the moves.
The drop-step and power move can only be used against defensive pressure coming from one side or the other.
If the defender is on the high side of the offensive post, we want to receive the low block pass and immediately drop-step baseline, catching the defender on the hip and backside of this move. We use with a strong power move, finishing with the power shot. The defender should be caught on the back of the offensive player.
Conversely, if the defender should be on the baseline side of the low post player, the quick drop-step over the middle of the lane, in front of the basket, should create the same finishing opportunity.
Coaching Tip: Always teach that the finishing shot should be taken with the hand away from the defender. If the defender is on the right hip, finish with the left hand. If the defender is on the left hip, finish with the right hand.
Yours in Sport & Spirit,