The positionless player is not easily identified by basketball’s traditional numbered positions with “1” for the point guard, etc. Instead, positionless players are able to operate successfully within the offense from multiple spots on the floor.
Different offenses develop their own terminology for different areas on the floor but in general we want to develop players so that they are comfortable in these spots:
- Wing (perimeter typically around free throw line extended)
- Post (low, middle, and high)
- Top (perimeter area typically around the top of the key)
- Short corner (typically one step off baseline, in between basket and corner)
- Perimeter corner
- Logo area (in the paint, free throw line to first or second tick mark)
Again, some offenses have the “kill area”, the “drop zone”, and what have you but the concept is the same. We define the basic areas the offense operates from and then make sure all players have some level of experience operating from each of those areas.
How do we do this?
I think the simplest and most effective way is through a coordinated set of game-like drills that emphasize passing, cutting, dribbling, and shooting in these areas.
The Drills Are The Offense (and Vice-Versa)
The title of this section is the main point – we dissect the offense into a set of drills that teach the offense. This gives the players game-like shooting reps and experience with the movement of the offense in a safe environment (2-0, 3-0, etc.) and then we incrementally build up to including defense in the drill as needed.
Better yet, by the time we’re ready for “live” defense some coaches just advocate playing a small sided game 2-2 or 3-3 with a defined entry action and bias to get reps in that pertain to the drills being worked on that practice.
Let’s look at an example. We can take a simple example of a 3-man game with perimeter players at the top, wing, and corner and build a set of drills of likely actions they’ll see within our offense.
The wing passes to the top and cuts to the basket. The rule for the corner here is to fill the vacated wing spot. We drill three (3) options:
- The corner defender X3 is ahead of the O3 and jumps the line preventing the pass. This is an opportunity for an IMMEDIATE back cut to receive a feeding pass from the top.
- The corner defender X3 lags O3 as O3 fills. This is an opportunity for an IMMEDIATE front cut, feed, and drive.
- The corner defender X3 follows the filling action too close. This is an opportunity for O3 to catch, rip, and drive with a change of direction.
Practice-wise we would spend 1 minute on each option using a shell defender (who cannot touch the ball). Players can swap lines so we work both sides of the court. Then after 3 minutes we would play 3v3 using only the paint and one side of the half court to drill this basic 3-man game action, cutting, and spacing.
Drilling this way gives the players experience at each spot with game like actions of passing, cutting, filling, and driving. They get shots against defense (initially shell, then live) and have to work through spacing options in the typical 3-man game.
The point here is that this is a bite size of the offense. No screening, post play, or skip passes are used in this snippet but we’ve made our shooting and driving drills operate within the context of actions we expect to see during games.