The Inside-Out Three

By Randy Sherman

February 22, 2018 - Cleveland, OH, USA - The Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyle Korver hits a 3-pointer against the Washington Wizards in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. The Wizards won, 110-103. (Credit Image: © Leah Klafczynski/TNS via ZUMA Wire)

The inside-out three-point shot is at the pinnacle of all three-point attempts and the three-pointer to seek and encourage above all others.

Not all threes are created equal. There are threes to encourage and threes to discourage.

There are off-the-dribble pull-up threes. There are threes by a cutter coming off a screen. There are threes that come after a series of jab steps. There are threes coming after a quick ball reversal or skip pass. But the pinnacle three-point attempt is of the inside-out variety.

For maximum scoring efficiency, seek inside-out threes of the catch-and-shoot variety. Penetrate the defense with either the dribble drive or the pass (post entry, pass to a cutter/roller). If the defense does not collapse, score at the rim. When the defense does collapse to help, space in a manner which makes the penalty an inside-out three.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 3.06.59 PM

Fig. 1 (Source: ShotTracker)

Fig. 2

Fig. 2 (Source: ShotTracker)

Benefits of the inside-out three:

  • Due to the defensive collapse, the shot is often uncontested which leads to greater efficiency due to the space and time for the shooter (Fig.1 above)
  • Shot is often “catch-and-shoot” rather than off-the-bounce, again leading to greater efficiency (Fig. 2 above)
  • Target of the inside-out pass is often stationary and easier to hit with an accurate pass
  • Shooter’s feet are organized and facing basket, no need to turn into shot while locating the ball
  • Shooter reads shot before the catch and shoots in rhythm as soon as it hits their hands
  • Offensive rebounds present another time to kick out to the line for inside-out threes

To generate inside-out threes teams must first seek to threaten the rim. In an ideal world, 0% of our field goal attempts would come from behind the arc and 100% of them would come from near the rim as layups and shots around the rim are the most efficient. That, however, is not a realistic outcome. Defenses will shrink or rotate to protect the rim. In so doing, the price they pay is the inside-out three point attempt.

A classic example – a player drives into a gap with the intention of scoring at the rim. He/she begins the drive to score – not to pass. Again, we always threaten the rim first! Help comes and the driver passes in the direction of the help for the inside-out three. The driver penetrates the defense and his/her teammates react to the penetration and space around the drive so as to penalize the help with three points.

The recipient of the inside-out pass must think “shot first” as they are most open when they first receive the ball. Drive to score. Catch to shoot.


Bonus Video – Milwaukee Bucks Five-Out Away Screen (examples of penetrating with the pass and finding standstill shooters for inside-out threes):


The catch-and-shoot three has a partner skill – attacking a closeout. It is while closing out that the defender is most vulnerable. In our classic drive-and-kick example, the recipient of the inside-out pass is unable to shoot on the catch due to a fast-closing defender. “Shoot” is no longer an option, but “drive” is.

Do not waste the closeout by doing neither. It is a simple if/then – if space and time allow, shoot it. If not, then drive the closeout. When a defender is closing out, it is difficult for them to take away both the shot and the drive. Taking away one comes at the expense of the other. Players must become adept at judging the distance needed to get off their shot. The shot/drive decision from an inside-out pass is a foundational skill of inside-out basketball.

Related Drill: Four Line Closeout Reads

Think back to your childhood. You out in the driveway shooting hoops while Dad, Mom, a sibling or a friend rebounds for you. What kind of pass did you receive over and over again from the rebounder? An inside-out pass. Think of all the “ball-and-a-partner” shooting drills players do as they learn the game. Most of those feature inside-out passes. Think of the hours a player spends in solitude on the Dr. Dish. What kind of pass does the machine fire back? An inside-out pass. Players have an inherent comfort level with the catch-and-shoot three from an inside-out pass for good reason.

The inside-out three is the three to seek and encourage above all others. It is the three-pointer that is worth more than three points because the ability to make them influences your opponents defensive spacing and willingness to help. Generating more of these shots entails creating space, attacking the paint, sound penetration reactions, accurate passing, shot preparation prior to the catch and efficient shot mechanics.

Continue the conversation:

Driving gap concepts to generate inside-out basketball are featured in our latest playbook – Double Gap Playbook. This playbook, and many past and future playbooks, are available to Bronze Medal Coaches and up in our RAMP program.

For help with practice planning and implementation of these and other offensive elements for finding, using and creating offensive advantages please contact us and/or join our community for basketball coaches!

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Randy Sherman
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.
Randy Sherman

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February 22, 2018 – Cleveland, OH, USA – The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyle Korver hits a 3-pointer against the Washington Wizards in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. The Wizards won, 110-103. (Credit Image: © Leah Klafczynski/TNS via ZUMA Wire)
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