Bill Russell has more NBA titles than anyone in league history. Eleven of his rings came as a player and two of them were as a coach. His record stands strong and is not likely to be broken anytime soon (unless Phil Jackson decides to come back from retirement). Russell famously said about defensive plays, “The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.”

A play in basketball can be defined as a move, or series of moves, that are coordinated to advance a goal in the game. All coaches have a play book. “Like any sports playbook [it] involves compilation of strategies the team would like to use during games. The playbook starts as a canvas picture of the basketball court with all its boundaries and lines. On top of that, the playmaker can draw O's for players on offense, and X's for players on defense. Specifically however, the playmaker will need to number them for different positions.” (Source).

Your coach’s playbook should be sure to take into account, for every play, every key position that is on the court: guards, forwards, and center striker. Most plays are sketched out and the positions numbered as offensive or defensive players. At a minimum there are usually 5 involved:

  1. Point guard
  2. Shooting guard
  3. Small Forward
  4. Power Forward
  5. Center

The other players are generally assigned to a player on the opposite team, when they are on defense, or a role to play in helping to move the ball down the court without letting the other team get it if on offense.

The following are three of the simplest plays to start with. These are sure to work for any coach and should fit into any playbook. They are clear, and should be kept simple so that they can be understood by even the most novice of players, so even the greenest of coaches can break the play down, demonstrate and teach it.

Code Blue, Or Blue Play

This is a six step play that is fun to learn and effective on the court. It begins with player 1 yelling, “Blue.” At that point, players 2 and 3 move toward the middle of the court then as fast as they can to the extended free-throw line. Player 1 passes to whichever of number 2 or 3 are more open. When drilling, switch up who the ball is passed to on each turn to keep everyone sharp.

The Season describes the rest of the steps in this play:

  • Next: If the ball goes to the #2, then #4 (the offensive player on the opposite side of the original box formation) rushes to the free throw line. #5 posts for two counts and, if he hasn't received the ball yet, v-cuts to the middle and then toward the corner on the same side.
  • Then: #2 then passes to #5 and breaks for the basket, looking for a pass back. #4, positioned at the free throw line, if not open will roll down the lane and then continue to the other side.
  • However, do this: If no one is open, #1 will move to where #2 was (at the right side wing) and get the ball back from #5. #3 will move to where #1 was, at the top of the key.
  • Follow Up: Once #1 has the ball, #5 will rush toward the basket and look for the return pass. #1 will pass back to #3 as #2 moves around toward the elbow and positions for a possible jump shot.Once #1 has the ball, #5 will rush toward the basket and look for the return pass. #1 will pass back to #3 as #2 moves around toward the elbow and positions for a possible jump shot.
  • Finally: #4 will post a block for two counts and then break to the corner. If #2 isn't open, #3 should look for #4. #5 should flash to the middle and wait for an open shot or the rebound if #2 is able to shoot. Players should remember to clear the key by moving to the free throw line if they aren't able to get the shot.

Man To Man

This defensive play comes to us courtesy of The man-to-man defense is pretty self-explanatory—each player has to defend and follow the movements of another individual player. In the traditional man-to-man there are three positions in which you can be on the court.

  • On Ball - If you are guarding the ball you will be in a defensive stance in front of your man trying to pressure or contain the ball.
  • Denial - If your man is one pass away from the ball then you will be in a denial position, using your body and an extended arm to block the passing lane and prevent your man from getting the ball.
  • Help - If your man is two or more passes away then you will be in a help position. You will be a few steps away from your man toward the ball or the ball side of the court, and ready to help defend a drive into the paint or recover to your man if they get the ball.

Simple and Offensive: A Basketball Play for Kids

Planting Seeds is a parenting blog for parents and is not the most likely of sources to find the best basketball plays. However, one of our favorites for kids comes straight out of their playbook. This is the so-called motion offenses, or freelance style moves. As they note, “this is the very first thing that should be learned by kids. This is not a set; it is a well patterned offense just like the shuffle or flex. Kids should know how to use and set it even though they are running. This is also a safe and efficient method to beat man-to-man defense and it also works in a specific zone.”

This awesome YouTube Video shows you how this can be done by kids.

Of course all of the best plays are reserved for your viewing on the Hustle Training App. We look forward to seeing you there.