Breaking the Half-Court Trap
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The secret to beating pressure defenses such as a half-court trap is to spend a little time each day attacking the pressure. Make the practice more difficult than the real thing. Maybe put more players on defense to really simulate pressure.
Pressure is a funny thing. It's different for everybody. Some definitions of pressure are: "the burden of mental or physical distress" or, "an oppressive condition of physical, mental, social distress." Some players get stressed and oppressed more quickly than others. That is what the defense is counting on. The defense wants you to feel the kind of pressure that is: "a force that compels one into mistakes." The more you practice against pressure, the less it will surprise you, and the next time you face a half-court trap will be less stressful. Additionally, formations are not as important as principles. Here is how to attack a half-court trap:
- Advance the ball until you feel pressure
- Draw the trap
- Look straight ahead
- Look diagonally to the middle
- Reverse the ball
(Hint: If they are all covered and the ball is being trapped, the deep person is open.)
- Use a 2-1-2 alignment
- Keep your guards on the lines that divide the court lengthwise into thirds. In other words, stay away from the sidelines.
- Place a player in the middle (diagonally) between the two circles.
- Two players should start at the foul line, extended (straight ahead). They should be active.
- Your guard with the ball should bring the ball up the court with his head up, looking for the strongside straight ahead or to the middle. He should never dribble the ball into the front court unless he is sure he can take three or four dribbles AFTER crossing half-court. Try not to dribble the ball over half-court unless you pass through the center circle. Most teams want you to cross half-court and pick up your dribble so that they can trap you on the sideline.
- If the ball goes to the strong side (straight ahead), the guard should look for the center, slashing ball-side to the basket.
- If the ball goes to the middle, look away from the direction of the pass and pass to the weak side forward, who is slashing back door to the basket.
- If the guard cannot pass to either of these two, he should reverse the ball to the other guard (before the ball crosses half-court), who is always behind the first guard. He should then attack the weak side, looking straight ahead or diagonally as before.
- Always attack the strong side--this allows the weak side to open.
- Once you have the ball in the front court, keep attacking via the pass. Try to score before they can recover. Place an emphasis on offensive rebounding, as it is difficult to get a good defensive blockout when the team is trapping.
Some additional tips would be:
- Never pick up your dribble without knowing where you will pass the ball.
- Encourage, or draw, the double team and then pass before they can set it up.
- Remain poised. Don't let one mistake lead to two or three.
- Beat them up the court by fast breaking so that they won't be able to set up their press.