The mid-range game might be a dying art form, but low post play will always be the heart and soul of basketball. Youth basketball players don’t have to be tall, traditional bigs to learn how to play in the paint. The skills learned from posting up actually translate all around the floor as well.

Mastering low post play has made the careers of many NBA superstars like Hakeem The Dream Olajuwon and Wilt The Stilt Chamberlain. Say what you will about today’s game, these players would still dominate today.

We will be reviewing some great drills to practice with your youth basketball squad to help them learn how to control the game from the inside out.

Pivoting and the Importance of Footwork in the Paint

Offense in the low post starts from the floor up. Good positioning, footwork, and body control make posting up nearly indefensible. Even big bodies like Shaquille O’Neal used their footwork to get into advantageous scoring positions.

Here is a great drill for low post footwork:

  • Have an offensive and defensive player start in the low post with a ball handler at the top of the key or anywhere around the three point line.
  • The offensive player must first use his or her feet to position themselves for a pass. Feet should be towards the ball handler with a wide base and hands out to receive the pass.
  • The ball should then be passed into the low post.
  • The low post player can now make any moves they choose without dribbling. The no dribbling rule forces youth basketball players to think about their feet first.
  • Work on drop steps, step backs, and pivoting to get up and under towards the basket.

Youth Basketball Rebound Drills

Playing in the post isn’t just about scoring. Low post players also absorb the majority of your team’s rebounds. There are plenty of rebounding drills, but we like this one for rebounding in the low post:

  • Have two defenders and two offensive players paired up, with each pair picking a side of the low blocks.
  • All players should be facing the top of the key, where there is a shooter (coach or other player).
  • The shooter takes the shot.
  • Defensive players must locate their opponent and box him or her out while turning towards the basket.
  • Offensive players should try to work around or fight through the box out legally.
  • From there it’s about reaching the ball at its highest point and securing the board.

Low Post Ball Movement Drills

Luka Doncic is this generation’s best passing big man. He controls the game from the inside out by feeding passes to teammates while maintaining a scoring threat at all times. Again, we recommend trying these drills without putting the ball on the floor, but that is not a requirement.

Have players positioned anywhere that is natural on the court so long as there is a singular offensive player in the low post. You may choose to do this as a 5 on 5 for realistic passing options.

The point guard should make an entry pass to the low post player. At this point, the post player must make a productive pass without shooting or dribbling. Other offensive players are encouraged to make a cut towards the basket, get open for three, set screens, etc.

The point of this drill is to improve passer vision and make young players understand that an extra pass can be productive even from the inside.

Defensive Post Drills

Low post defense is an art form all on its own. There are so many intricacies that make a good player a great player with anticipation, body control, and instincts. Here are some high level concepts to include into your low post defensive training:

Denying the entry pass - The first line of defense to the inside is jumping the entry pass. Players should understand that this is a calculated risk. Jumping a pass can lead to easy buckets. The key is to understand a good risk vs. a bad risk.

Helping on the drive/taking a charge - Low post defense is much more than just one-on-one play. Post players are often helped to slide over and help with a slasher. Drills that work on communication and team defense help all defenders.

One-on-one low post defense - Of course, low post defense does often include bodying up against your opponent. Drills should focus on good footwork, active hands, and staying up and down when going for shot blocks.

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