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Why Full-Court Press in High School Basketball

Whether or not to use a full-court press in high school basketball can be a difficult decision for a coach. Are my players athletic enough? Are we disciplined enough to run a full-court press? Do we have the bench depth? All these questions, and more, should be answered prior to implementing a pressing defense.

Perhaps the most fundamental question is why should you press? What do you hope to get out it? Other than the obvious, Were behind late in the game and we have to catch up, the best answer would be: tempo. Full-court pressing allows you to control the tempo of the basketball game.

I have found, in high school basketball, getting the opposing team out of their comfort zone when it comes to tempo is an important key to winning. By using a full-court pressmy favorite is the 2-2-1 pressyou can dictate tempo. If your opponent likes to play up-tempo, use a loose 2-2-1 press to apply token pressure to slow down the advance of the ball over half-court. Conversely, if your opponent prefers to play more deliberately, the 2-2-1 press can be used to apply intense pressure. This will speed up your opponent and get them to play at a much faster tempo. In either case, the goal is to get your opponent to play at a pace at which they are not accustomed to playing.

Another question that needs to be answered when deciding whether or not to use a full-court press is: How do you define success? Success in the full-court press is not just defined as getting the opponent to turn over the ball. While a turnover would certainly qualify as a successful outcome, the definition of success will depend largely on what type of tempo you are trying to impose.

If you are attempting to slow down the tempo of the game, forcing your opponent to use five or more seconds on the shot clock in order to get the ball over half-court could be a successful outcome. Also, in addition to using a specified amount of time to cross half-court, forcing your opponent to use an additional three to five seconds in order to initiate their offense could also be considered a successful outcome.

On the other hand, when trying to speed up the tempo of the game, getting your opponent to take a quick shot they would not otherwise attempt is a successful outcome. Getting a player on the opposing team that is not a primary scorer to take a quick shot could also be considered a success.

As you can see there are many good reasons to apply a full-court press in high school basketball, and depending on your desired outcome, there are several standards that can be applied to determine if your press is successful.

For more detailed information on full-court pressing in high school basketball, you may visit the Cougar Basketball Club (CBC) website for an excellent selection of eBooks and videos.