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Open the Back Door

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Open the Back Door

Most good offenses have some fundamental principles of spacing, ball and player movement, offensive rebounding possibilities, and transition-defensive balance; however, outstanding offenses use human nature, pressure, and good defense against itself to create passing and shot opportunities. The "back door" is a great counter to good defensive pressure. The back door refers to when the player is being overplayed and cannot catch the basketball. The player should then change directions and make a quick cut behind the defender, through the "back door," to the basket. Offenses that have some "back door options" are very effective against teams that play a pressure defense.

Most back-cuts are pressure releases against defensive overplays; however, they can also result from defensive errors such as losing vision of the ball or losing vision of the player that they are guarding. Even so, a large majority of open back cuts do not just happen by accident; they are set up with ball control and good outside shooting. The constant player movement and exchanges have a tendency to lull even the best of defenders to sleep.

Human nature dictates that anytime a shooter makes a shot, that defender is naturally going to play a little tighter and be susceptible to the back door. So run a back door to a player who has just made an outside shot. If an offensive player takes a step in any direction, the pressure defender will naturally also take a step in that direction. When the ball-handler gets closer to another offensive player, his defender will naturally play a little tighter on him. A nice way to signal a back door is to have the ball-handler dribble at a teammate. The teammate can make his back door cut at a particular interval (say, two dribbles). Then, the passer knows exactly when he is making the back door cut and can be prepared to pass.

Anytime you're being overplayed, you should take your man back door. The player being denied the pass should take one more step toward the ball and then plant a foot and cut hard to the basket. The cutter can also give a hand signal, such as a closed fist instead of an open target hand, as he is setting up the cut. The passer should make a bounce pass to the cutter. Timing is very important and should be practiced extensively.

Another possibility is to pass to a player who steps up the lane. For example, the point guard could pass to a post at the corner of the free throw line who could hit a wing player cutting. Based on the location of the wing and the defender, the wing would have a great angle to catch a little bounce pass off of the hip of the post player. Once again, the timing of this play is important, as the player may only be open for a split second.

There are countless back door opportunities from a number of different angles that can be used to get some easy baskets against teams that play good pressure defense.



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