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Basketball Spacing – How to correctly occupy spaces?

The game of basketball is a game of spaces, from training to the highest level, all coaches talk about the correct occupation of spaces. Very well, but what is it to occupy the spaces correctly? What does that benefit my team?

Space in basketball is finding a position on the court that allows my colleague to do any action, from penetrating, shooting, cutting … without ever interfering. It is also not allowing a defender to be able to defend two offensive players at the same time.

We cannot forget that the half-court is 47ft long by 50ft wide, this means that we can take advantage of the field from corner to corner and from the top of the half-court to the baseline. The more open the players are, the more space there will be for players to attack the basket.

5 out - basketball spacing
5 out
4 out and 1 in - basketball spacing
4 out and 1 in

Both in the situation where we have the 5 out and in the situation 4 out and 1 in it is possible to have space to play.

Except that during the game the players will not remain static, and they can probably go through various positions especially when it comes to young athletes. So it is important to work on each situation.

How to correctly occupy spaces in basketball?

First, it is necessary to define rules in the occupation of spaces but to do so, it is necessary to understand how my attack will position itself.

Decide first how the team’s attack will be, what their base formation is, 5 out, or 4 out and 1 inside the ball, or 4 out and 1 inside the opposite side of the ball or 3 out and 2 inside.

After this is defined, now we will define the rules for occupying space. Let’s assume that the team’s formation will be 4 out and 1 in on the side of the ball.

So let’s set the rules if the player with the ball penetrates.

If the player with the ball in the forward position drives to the baseline, what will the reaction of the remaining players be?

Forward drives baseline - basketball spacing

This situation is a possibility of an answer, all other players have to move to the drive to create more space for the player with the ball to drive the basket or to create outside shoots alone. Therefore I leave a fundamental note, it is not enough to just pass and be quiet, it is vital to occupy a free space in case my colleague is not able to shot to have space to drive.

If the player with the ball in the forward position drives to the middle, what will the reaction of the remaining players be?

Forward drives middle

This situation is one more possibility of a response, I stress once again the importance of all players moving around to create more driving space or an outside shot. Note that the player after making the pass occupies the empty space so that the team can continue to attack the free space.

It is also very common for teams to react when making inside passes. And we can and we must, especially at the youngest levels, define a rule for the inside pass, what to do. For example:

Pass inside

This situation is quite simple, but the aggressive cut can bring a lot of points to the team. Notice that all players create space and make the defense also have to move.

How to practice the Spacing?

Practicing the occupation of spaces is quite simple, just apply each rule that we define and use in situations of 2×0 and 3×0.

Drill nº1: 2×0 Criss – Cross

Drill nº1: 2x0 Criss - Cross

The exercise begins with two columns, one with the ball inbounding the ball and the other on the first pass line. The first pass line receives the outlet pass. Whoever passed goes behind and runs in the forward corridor. After completion, change columns.

In this exercise you can use several variants, such as the reaction to the drive of the post player when the extreme penetrates (both for the middle and for the line); as well as if the point guard drives to the line or the middle which is the reaction to drive.

Drill nº1: 2x0 Criss - Cross - Basketball Spacing
Drill nº1: 2x0 Criss - Cross - Basketball Spacing

Drill nº2: 2×0 Drive and Shoot

Drill nº2: 2x0 Drive and Shoot - Basketball Spacing

The exercise begins with two columns, one with the ball in the forward position and the other without the ball on the opposite side.

In the first graph, the player with the ball drives to the line and assists the winger, after passing he occupies the free position left by the winger after the reaction. Upon reaching that position he receives the return pass and drives to the basket.

Drill nº2: 2x0 Drive and Shoot - Basketball Spacing

In the second graph, the objective is the same, only this time it drives to the middle and watches the corner, after passing it occupies the free position left by the winger. Upon reaching that position he receives the return pass and drives to the basket.

Drill nº3: 3×0 Drive and Shoot

Drill nº3: 3x0 Drive and Shoot - Basketball Spacing

The exercise starts with 3 columns, one at the point guard position and two at the forward position (one on each side). Point guard drives to the baseline forward react to drive and attacks baseline.

The opposite end appears in the corner and shoot. The winger who passed the ball to the corner goes up to the corner receives the pass from the point guard and shoot.

Improve team spacing, improves the offense

In today’s game, there is fewer and set plays being called, but rather a constant game of reading penetration and assistance for the outside shot or pulling the defender to drive his close-out.

It improves the drive reaction timings and readings and your attack will improve if exponentially.

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