Offensive Concepts – Enlarge the Defense

By Randy Sherman

Eisbaeren Bremerhaven vs. Giessen 46ers

Conceptual-based offensive basketball is anchored by principles. The first of which is “enlarging the defense.”

The beginnings of coaching and playing basketball conceptually lie with spacing. Spacing entails not only selecting an alignment (i.e. four-out) but allowing the basketball room to breathe within the possession.

Tactics for enlarging the defense and creating space are vital for offensive flow. What does it mean to “enlarge the defense” and what teaching points can help players grasp this?

Create Double Gaps

Recognizing gap space is step one in enlarging the defense. Teach players to identify the difference between single and double gaps and enlarge the defense to create double gap space.

In the diagram below we see a simple principle being followed.

When in a single gap and looked at, dribbled at or pivoted towards cut to create a double gap.

Player 2 is in single gap spacing and Player 1 looks at them. Player 2 cuts creating a double gap.

Single Gap

This cut enlarges the defense by creating double gap space for Player 1. Now Player 3’s defender is stretched as well. To guard a man and half and shrink the gap, Player 3’s defender has cede space to Player 3.

Player 1 and the ball now have room to breathe and follow another principle of conceptual based offense.

Drive into double gaps

Player 3 should resist the urge to fill into the area voided by Player 2’s cut – at least right away.

By staying put and not filling immediately Player 3 enlarges the defense granting Player 1 space to attack and create an advantage with the dribble.

Double Gap

Other ways a player can enlarge the defense include:

  • “Widening the slots” – seek wider spacing on top of a four out alignment so the ball can be penetrated through the middle.
  • Moving away from a wing ball screen so the ball handler has a double gap to attack if they accept the ball screen.
  • A post relocating to either the other side or to the short corner when a teammate drives at them.

Enlarging the defense is all about creating space and making dilemmas for defenders- attach to the player enlarging and create more space for the ball or crowd the gap space and grant my man an advantage on the catch.

What are other ways a player can enlarge the defense?

Conceptual Based Offense – Enlarge The Defense was first published by Radius Athletics at

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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.
December 2, 2016 – December 2, 2016 – GER, easyCredit BBL, Eisbaeren Bremerhaven vs. Giessen 46ers 02.12.2016, Stadthalle, Bremerhaven, GER, easyCredit BBL, Eisbaeren Bremerhaven vs. Giessen 46ers im Bild Ivan Elliott (Bremerhaven 14), Chris Harris (Assistant Coach / Co-Trainer Bremerhaven), Sebastian Machowski (Head Coach / Trainer Bremerhaven), nordphotox/xEwert….ger easyCredit BBL Polar bears Bremerhaven vs Giessen 46ers 02 12 2016 City Hall Bremerhaven ger easyCredit BBL Polar bears Bremerhaven vs Giessen 46ers in Picture Ivan Elliott Bremerhaven 14 Chris Harris Assistant Coach Co team manager Bremerhaven Sebastian Machowski Head Coach team manager Bremerhaven nordphotox xEwert (Credit Image: � Imago via ZUMA Press)

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