SHADOW Press Variations

By Randy Sherman

Volume III – Adjusting to the offense and controlling tempo with variations of the SHADOW press.

When using any full court press such as the SHADOW press it is vital to make adjustments in response to the opposing offense. Through scouting or early in a game, a coach should decide what he/she wants from the press and adjust it accordingly.

These SHADOW press options give the coach the ability to adjust the press to fit their gameplan whether that be aggressive trapping or controlling tempo.

Fake Trap

The Fake Trap option (Frame 2 below) is designed to deceive the offense by presenting the same look as the Trap Option (Frame 1 below) and faking the trap. The hope is to confuse the ball handler and slowing the advancement of the ball. Wary of the impending trap, the ball handler slows his/her attack perhaps reversing the ball in lieu of attacking the pressure.


X4 fakes a trap. SHADOW (X4) maintains and 8′-10′ supporting position to allow X1 to “get into” and pressure the ball and influences to the sideline. X4 stunts as if setting the trap then backs off.

At midcourt, X4 matches up with Player 4 and X2 stays with Player 2.

X4 faking the trap keeps Player 1 guessing and slows the advancement of the ball.

NOTE: If the inbounds pass goes to Player 2, SHADOW (X4) fakes the trap with X2 and X1 assumes the helpside TOP I position.

Jump Switch

Another adjustment is the Jump Switch option. Adjust by inverting the X4 and X1 to bring a jump switch to the ball handler. Ultimately the X1 will defend the primary ball handler after attempting to deceive the ball handler with the jump switch.


Same action as SHADOW TRAP except X1 and X4 invert and execute an aggressive jump switch on Player 1.

X1 assumes the SHADOW position maintaining an 8′-10′ supporting position.

At midcourt X4 matches up with Player 4, X1 stays with Player 1 and X2 stays with Player 2.

Jump Switching provides another way to keep Player 1 guessing.

NOTE: If the inbounds pass goes to Player 2, SHADOW (X1) jump switches with X2

Up Option

The Up Option fully conceals the SHADOW player by aligning in the FACE press formation. The SHADOW player pressures the inbounder angled to influence the pass to the near sideline. Once the offense inbounds the ball X4 sprints to the SHADOW spot supporting X1.


Same alignment as FACE Trap except that X4 rotates quickly to the SHADOW position instead of trapping the inbounds pass.

X4 maintains the 8′-10′ supporting position and has the options of trapping (shown), faking the trap or jump switching with X1.

NOTE: If the inbounds pass goes to Player 2’s side, X4 rotates to the SHADOW position supporting X2. X1 assumes the helpside TOP I position.

The diagram below shows the rotation out of the trap in the Up option.


Pass Out of Trap – Close Out to near man. X1 maintains pass denial position against Player 1 preventing the return pass to the ball handler.

X2 closes out to an on ball position against Player 2 pushing Player 2 to the near sideline or baseline checkpoint.

X3 assumes a LOW I helpside position against Player 3 and is responsible for the basket area.

X4 sprints to top of circle assuming a TOP I helpside position against Player 4.

X5 roates down and fronts post.

The Fake Trap, Jump Switch and Up options give coaches flexibility to adjust the press to fit their aims. Also, the options can be selected based on how they offense is attempting to attack the press.

Extending the defense can be a potent and important weapon at times. However, the effectiveness of a press is dependent on the execution of the basic individual defensive fundamentals and timing. Trapping in proper areas with proper angles and helpside positioning are vital components to any press. Quick rotations are also key to a successful press.

Further Reading:

For more on these pressing concepts check out “Disruptive Pressure Basketball” by Ernie Woods

The following two tabs change content below.
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.
January 25, 2017 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S – Temple Owls guard SHIZZ ALSTON JR. (3) passes out of a double team trap during the American Athletic Conference basketball game being played at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. Temple beat Memphis 77-66. (Credit Image: © Ken Inness via ZUMA Wire)

Related posts

One Comment;

  1. Pingback: Adjusting The Full Court Press