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Attacking a Sagging Defense

One of the defenses that Read & React coaches sometimes struggle against is a sagging man to man. And, it makes sense. If you don’t have shooters, a defense can interfere with all the cutting and penetration of the Read & React by playing off and protecting the paint.

But, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, there are solutions. These came from coaches like you in the forum and have been used in real games in real situations. Thanks to Mat11, Rob K, rpt, Rick, and rgriffin921 for the ideas.

Pin & Skip: A Pin & Skip sends a message to the defense, “if you want to sag, then you will have to navigate a screening situation. Help and sag if you want, but your defensive life will be much more difficult”.

But, you don’t have to shoot on the skip pass. You don’t even have to score on that action. It’s designed to move the defense out of their comfortable little box and hopefully open up some seams that can be exploited by other actions.

A skip pass recipient can drive immediately against the close out, feed the post and make one of four post cuts, make a perimeter pass and cut, Power Dribble, Reverse Dribble, or Skip the pass back across if another Pin Screen has been set.

Try the Pin & Skip, force the defense to navigate screens, and look to score with the next action.

Of course, if you have the shooters, knocking down the 3 is the simplest option.

Post Pass & Cut: Emphasize post feeds and focus on rubbing the defender off the post player on the Laker Cut – there is potential to get easy lay-ups from this. Once you start getting lay-ups against a sagging D, your opponent may start to reconsider defensive choice.

The post player also has the option to pass back out to the perimeter and potentially open up some driving lanes for a guard against a closing out defender.

Elbows & Short Corners: Use your cutters or post players to attack from the short corner and elbows. You can easily set a post player in those positions. Or, have cutters fill those two spots for one pass before filling out. This is similar to the Hook & Look options against a zone.

Quick Passes: If the defense wants to clog up the lane, help them. Use two or three quick passes (which fires off several cutters rapidly) and fill hard. A lot of times sagging defenders get caught up “in the wash” and cutters can emerge from the chaos with an open jumper. Or, the ball handler can Draft Drive behind them.

Add the Extra Action: Regardless of which option you choose (or combination of options, make sure to add the extra action. By distorting the defense, you can gain a slim time advantage over recovering defenders. But, if you add one more smart (emphasis on smart) action – the extra pass, the drive on a close out, one more skip – you can extend that time advantage and ultimately get a better scoring opportunity.

What has worked for you against sagging defense? Let us know in the comments.


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about rick torbett

Rick Torbett has taught thousands of coaches to win more games through his innovative approach to the game. He has created powerful training for coaches at any level so they can coach their best and win more games.

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Read & React 5-Player Coordination Drills

Enter your email address to get an inside look at teaching the Read & React Offense with the drills in this free video.