Master the Step Back to Get Clean Shots

As players play against bigger, stronger, more athletic opponents, they find that offensive moves that were previously successful are no longer as effective. The initial offensive move that allowed players to get by a defender is now cut off by quicker, better athletes. When players find themselves in this situation, they need to develop counter moves in response to improved individual defenders.

When offensive players can't "get by" the defender, they must learn to "get away" from the defender to create space to score. The "Step Back" is a counter move that will help players do just that.

This move is most effective around the basket, in the lane, or inside 15 feet. Once you move beyond that range, it becomes a very difficult and low-percentage shot. It should not be a staple of a player's perimeter offense, but can be an extremely valuable weapon in the paint.

Here are the basic components of the Step Back:

Attack The Defender First

The Step Back is a "counter move." It is used only after the initial drive is stopped. You must force the defender to stop the drive first by trying to get by him with your drive.

Get Into The Defender

If the defender slides to cut you off, dip the lead shoulder and continue to sell the drive. This forces the defender to fully commit to stopping your initial move, and makes it more difficult for him to react to your counter. You now have him digging in, with his weight back on his heels.

Press Off The Front Foot

Push hard off the front foot to create separation from the defender. Get as much distance as possible to create space to shoot. The direction and angle you move in as you separate will be determined by where the defender is, and where you are on the floor. Typically, the direction is on a 45-degree angle--like a "V." You aren't stepping straight back, and you aren't stepping sideways--but somewhere in between, based on where the defender is positioned.

Land On Back Foot First

Try to land on the back foot first, not in a jump stop. This will create more balance and rhythm on the shot, and allow you to adjust to any reaction by the defender.

Keep Shoulders Forward

As the lead foot comes back, keep the shoulders forward as the shooting motion begins. This keeps players low and athletic on the move and prevents you from fading away unnecessarily.

Straight Up On The Shot

If enough space is created, there should be enough room to get off a high percentage jump shot. If good distance and separation isn't created on the move, players are forced to fade from the defender on the shot. This leads to shots falling short and greatly decreases shooting percentage.

Players at every level will be faced with quick, athletic defenders who are tough to get by on the dribble. When this situation occurs, counter moves become necessary to create space. The "Step Back" is an excellent counter move to develop, and with practice and repetition, this move can provide an answer to those tougher defenders you will face at higher levels.

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