Pressure Man Tips – Post Defense

By Randy Sherman

In Vol. 6 of this series we address the techniques of post defense and how to teach interior defense within the principles of pressure man defense.

With a pressure defensive system fundamentals such as stance, stance angle, denial of reversals and helpside defense are all vital to creating offensive discomfort. The overall theme is to force the offense away from running plays or offenses that they are comfortable in.

Extending those concepts to post defense is also vital. With an extended pressure defense, post defenders are often left alone on the block with a post player with lots of room to operate. Below are some tips on post defense and how to guard down low in a pressure man defense:

Make the post player like a “regular” player

One of the primary objectives of pressure man defense is to destroy the spacing of the opposing offense. Post defenders can do this by making the offensive low post into a “regular” player. In short, force the post off the block and as far away from the lane line as you can.

Pushing the post player away from the block forces him/her into an area where they are not comfortable and takes away the low block presence of the offense. Hence they become a “regular” (non-post) player. Beat your man down the floor, establish leverage using an arm bar and push them further away from the basket.

Avoid body contact after they receive the ball

Inevitably the ball is going to enter the post. When it does, post players want to avoid fouling. More importantly the post defender follows the mantra of pressure defense: make the player you are guarding dribble to their shot.

The goal is make the post player turn and face. Release contact after the post player catches the ball. Extend arms above head and make the post player have to score over you. The longer the post player has the ball without making a scoring move, the better it is for help defenders to get into position.

Do you front or play behind?

This is the question that most coaches want to solve right away. The answer, in short, is “it depends.” It depends on what the post player can do.

But to give a definitive answer that is teachable to your players, 3/4 front when the ball is above the free throw line. If the ball goes below the free throw line, play below, still keeping a hand and foot in the passing lane.

Further, if the post defender has successfully made the post player into a “regular” player by pushing the offensive player away from the basket and the post seems adamant on “backing down” the defense, then front. The spacing has been damaged so simply release body contact and front.

An additional note on fronting, when the offense posts up a guard front them.

Keep your feet free

Post play is mostly about “foot leverage” and keeping your feet free is vital to winning the battle for post defenders. Fight to maintain your feet and keep the highest foot. Knowing when to release contact and correct your foot placement is important.

Do not allow your feet to get tied up or “leg-whipped” and lose leverage. Keep and hand and a foot in the passing lane, but be aware of what is going on with the low foot. Crafty post players maybe hooking it to set up a high-low pass.

Don’t “help up”

Often in this pressure man system the ball is driven into the lane while being defended by the on-ball defender. Post players may feel the need to help up on the threat. In so doing, they create an easy drop off opportunity for the driving player.

Instinct is to help up, but teach post players to resist that and instead “fake and recover” to their own man. Bluff as if helping up but get back to the post player. Remember, the goal of pressure man defense is to make the ball handler dribble to their shot. By helping up, post defenders give what is many times an out-of-control driver an opportunity to drop the ball off for an easy shot.

Follow these tips to create a post defensive philosophy that fits with pressure defense. It is not always about being the most physical, but more about leverage, position and disrupting the offense.

Continue the pressure man defense conversation: 

Explore and use the Twitter hashtag #PressureManTips as well!

Any questions: Happy to talk hoops any time day or night! If you would like to be added to the motion offense and pressure man defense mailing list, email and let me know!

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Randy Sherman is the owner and founder of Radius Athletics - a basketball coaching consulting firm - where he consults with basketball coaches at all levels on coaching philosophy, practice planning, Xs & Os and teaching a conceptual style of basketball. While a head basketball coach at the the interscholastic level, Sherman's teams won 197 games in nine seasons.

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