I caught the ball on the elbow with my back to the basket, quarter turn ball fake to my teammate coming off the flare screen (he wasn’t open), drop step to the basket for a finish at the rim and a foul. And 1! This was on my way to a 31 point outburst on 12-19 shooting in a big time college game. I told the other team’s player that he couldn’t guard me and he said, “you’re right.” They kept making subs and each new guy they put on me got the same results. I gave them buckets.
When you have great footwork, you keep your head up and see the court, and have go to moves and counter moves, you soon realize that you’re well on your way to becoming unstoppable. You’re unstoppable when the other team knows exactly what you’re going to do, and they still can’t stop it. The point of this article isn’t to brag about a 30+ point game, but it’s to inspire all of our post players to learn how to be dominant. No matter how tall you are, you can still learn what it takes for great post play and guards who understand this are that much more valuable.
The first step to becoming a dominant post player is to master your footwork. You cannot go anywhere on the court without moving your feet. In the post, it is really a battle of the feet and positioning. Work on your up and unders, your drop step, your quarter turn step in to face up jumpshot. Being dominant on offense comes from making the right reads and having the footwork to respond quickly to openings and subpar defense. Improving your footspeed will dramatically improve your game on both the offensive and defensive ends.
When you watch the NBA or more specifically, Shaq and Tim Duncan play, notice their body positioning and feet, and how they spun away from pressure. As big as Shaq was, he would still bump once or twice and then spin away from the pressure to create space for a dunk or jump hook. When you catch the ball in the post, you want to catch with a jump stop and immediately check middle. This gives you the option to use either pivot foot and then make your read. When you check middle, you look for the cutter and also how the defense is playing. If you can’t see your defender when you check middle, that’s which way you should go. If you see or feel your defender, go the other way or fake towards him and go the other way. Players with great footwork and ability to read the defense make it nearly impossible to stop them.
2) Go to Moves
The best thing you can do for your post game and see immediate results with is to develop a go to move. The one move that feels good, makes sense for your size, and you’re the most fluid with is the one you want to do most often. Determine the move and then become the best at that move. Don’t worry about having 7 different options… just keep it simple. Master one move to start and then add a second and a third. A jump hook is a must have and you should be fluid with either hand. A face up jump shot from 5-12 feet away needs to be in your arsenal as well. The third one I recommend to have in your skill set is a phenomenal drop step. Having the ability to score at will with a go to move will make the game easier and more fun. You won’t be thinking about moves, you’ll be making your reads and playing with instinct.
Master a go to that everyone eventually knows about, so if opponents or fans say they always do this (insert move) then you know you’re doing it right. You should make a name for yourself with a move you always do that is hard to stop. You’ll learn how to play chess while everyone else is playing checkers. A strong go to move sets you up for great counter moves. In the next paragraph, I’ll show you how to become unstoppable once everyone knows your go to move or moves.
3) Counter Moves
A counter move is so much fun and the post becomes a live action chess game. The battle of the feet begins. Once you have your jump hook down, you can now have a counter move and you make a read and then a split second decision. The more this is practiced then the more it becomes habit and instinct. A jump hook counter could be an up and under with a step thru, or an up and under with a reverse pivot to the finish. Another counter for the jump hook could be a pump fake into an inside jab to a low rip power layup. You want to be thinking go to move and if they defend it well, then hit ‘em with the counter move. If this, then that mindset. You don’t want to be a robot, but you do need to read the defense and be ready to adjust. The post is simple, but it’s far from easy.
The key to a good counter move is having a go to move that feels right to you and then give yourself 2 or 3 counter moves to choose from depending on how the defense reacts. You want to have an answer for however they try to stop you. Through practice, studying film, and hard work, you’ll have plenty of counter moves to be nearly unstoppable. After lots of practice and commitment, you’ll no longer be thinking about what counter move to do. You’ll let your instincts take over, make the right decision and get the bucket.
You can have all the footwork, go to moves, and counter moves in the world, but if you don’t have the motor to put it all into action, it’s pointless. You’ll hear players, coaches, and announcers talk about someone’s motor. You’ll hear, “He never gets tired,” “Look at that effort,” “She just doesn’t stop does she,” “He has a high motor and plays full out.” When you hear these phrases and conversations around post players, you’ll learn that they have the makings of a great. The footwork, go to and counter moves, combined with a high motor, will always be the ingredients for a dominant post player. This really comes from the mindset of the player and being relentless.
A lot of post players have the skills and ability to be a great post player but they lack the stamina and conditioning. A player with a high motor is in better shape than anyone else on the team. Bigger, stronger, and faster means you’ve got to outwork everyone and make sure your presence is felt when you step on the court. By being in great shape and having a high motor, you’ll beat other posts down the court on both ends. The other team will be feeling your wrath the entire game because you have the stamina and conditioning to be consistent throughout the game.
A dominant post player lives for the big games. They smile at the opponents that think they have an answer for them. You can hit ‘em with the Kanye West and tell them they don’t got the answers. Show up. Step up. Make History.
Stay Relentless. Play the Optimum Way.
Article by Brandon Cochran
Co-Founder Optimum Basketball