Developing Post Players

By John Leonzo

Having an effective post player can give your team a distinct advantage. The best post players impact the game through their activity on both sides of the ball. It is a gross misconception that the post player is simply to be stuck below the basket on both ends of the floor to protect the rim and grab garbage points.

The best post players (regardless of level) do all of the following:

• Impact the game with hustle and motor
• Set the physical tone of the game
• Voice of the defense
• Score over both shoulders
• Capable shooter from 15 feet
• Make “2nd effort” plays
• Impose physical contact on all screens
• Ability to catch passes
• Create space without the ball
• Rebound aggressively

These are all skills that every post player must have if they seek to impact the game and help their team reach their full potential.

Essential Elements of a Post Player Workout:

Again, I believe that player development should be skill specific and focused. You do not need bells and whistles to have a good workout. Players that truly want to get better will not need to be entertained with fancy drills, props, and gimmicks during a workout. Teach skills, focus on mechanics. The essential elements of a post player workout must include:

• Getting position and keeping position
• Basic post moves and counters
• Screen and roll/pop work
• Passing out of double teams
• Spacing off dribble drives
• Game shots
• Hands/rebounding

Do not feel that all of these areas must be accomplished in every workout, but rather pick a few of the elements listed above and make them the specific focus of a workout.

Most of the workouts that I conduct follow this basic outline:

• Active warm-up
• Ball handling/passing
• Shooting warm-up/mechanics
• Specific skill focus #1 (i.e. 2 back to basket moves, 2 counters)
• Shooting reps
• Specific skill focus #2 (i.e. rebounding and finishing with contact)
• Shooting reps

I like this format because it ensures that you are covering all of the basic elements of the position, while avoiding overloading the player with tons of information and drills. Again, be sure to teach and correct through all of the elements of the workout.

Here is a sample of a post workout that I conducted last week:

Active warm-up: (I use this warm-up from Coach Alan Stein)


Steve Nash Passing Series:

Develops the ability to pass, catch, and handle the ball


Backboard Tips Drill:

Player is in the paint on the right side of the rim. They will throw the ball high off the glass and then jump up into the ball, meeting it at the it’s highest point. Once they have met the ball in the air, they will tip the ball against the back board with the right hand before their feet hit the ground. They will repeat that series for three taps. On the fourth tap, they will tip the ball across the backboard and meet the ball on the left side of the rim. They will then repeat the three taps on the left side of the rim, this time using the left hand. On the fourth tip, the player will bank the ball of the backboard and into the net. This is a great drill for developing the hands of a post player.

Shooting Warm-Up:

I mix this up often times dependent on the corrections that a player needs to make for their shot, but here is a link to a very good shooting warm-up that places a great emphasis on footwork and shooting on the move.
Skill Focus #1: Screen and Roll Work: 

The post player can start wherever they would in your offensive system. Have them spring to the desired location of the ball screen (wing, top of key, etc) and perform a screen and roll.

For the teaching points that I emphasize for the screener, check out Screen and Roll Tips for Screeners.

Be sure to emphasize various finishes for the post player. I do not let my guys just dunk every finish. Make them work on actual finishing moves around the rim. Below is a progression that I would use:

• Roll and score
• Roll, shot fake, score
• Roll, hard dribble, slide to opposite side of rim to score
• Roll, hard dribble, slide to opposite side of rim, shot fake, score

Shooting Reps: 

Use this time to get the player the spot-up shots at the range that they get in your offensive system.

An example of a drill that you can use would be a drill called 4 range shooting. There are 7 spots on the court (short corner, mid elbow, elbow, foul line, elbow, mid elbow, short corner). The player starts 8 feet away at the first spot. They will shoot one shot and move to the next spot. They must make 4 out of 7 shots to move to the step back 1 big step back to the next range. They have three minutes to complete the 4 ranges.

Skill Focus #2: Back to the Basket Moves

Here is a video that I made showcasing some of the various post moves that I teach:

Shooting Reps #2

I like to the last set of shooting reps to be shots off the move so that the player can get a little conditioning in as well. Again, make sure that the shots are taken at spots they shoot from in the game.

Post Series Shooting: Player goes for 2 minutes on each block. The player will shoot the following shots consecutively for 2 minutes. You can substitute whatever shots your players’ need here.

• Face up jump shot
• Face up, jab at defender, shoot
• Face up, shot fake, finish at rim

Always emphasize and teach the skills that the player needs to be successful. A short, focused, and purposeful workout is always much more productive than a long workout filled without useless drills. In articles to follow I will be posting more in-depth about how to perform and teach the skills that were listed above in the first paragraph.
If you have any questions for me or if there is anything that I can do to help you, please feel free to reach out to me via my website,

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John Leonzo

John Leonzo is the CEO of John Leonzo Basketball where he seeks to provide the highest quality training for both players and coaches. Through on the court training with players and online courses for coaches, John is able to make an impact in all the areas of the game.

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Aug. 5, 2015 – Rotenburg An Der Fulda, Hesse, Germany – Germany’s Tibor Pleiss and assistant Alex Jense coach in action during the practice session of Germany’s national basketball team in Rotenburg an der Fulda, Germany, 5 August 2015. Team Germany is preparing for the European Championships which take place from 05 September to 20 September 2015. Photo: Swen Pfoertner/dpa (Credit Image: � Swen PföRtner/DPA via ZUMA Press)

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