Balance In Team Play

A well-organized team will have balance between offensive and defensive play, inside and perimeter play, and ball-side and offside play.

Offensive and Defensive Balance

Having offensive and defensive balance involves quick transition from one phase of play to the other. Therefore, while on defense, a team should begin play on offense the moment teammates anticipate gaining possession of the ball and while on offense; it should begin to play defense the moment teammates anticipate losing possession.

Anticipating possession enables teams to increase the tempo of play. For example, teammates should begin occupying positions in their full-court set the moment they perceive that a teammate is about to get a defensive rebound, not after that player gets the rebound, returns to the floor, in-turns (squares up), and initiates an outlet pass.

Inside and Perimeter Balance

In frontcourt play, a team should be able to score from outside as well as inside. Teams that rely on scoring from only one of these areas make it easier to play defense. For example, when the defense knows that a team is constantly trying to get the ball inside, it cheats, that is, the players guarding opponent in perimeter positions will sag into the paint or play a tight zone. When a team gets most of its scoring from the perimeter, perceptive defenses will challenge the outside game, knowing its opponent is unlikely or unable to go inside.

Ball-Side and Offside Balance

To be effective, teams should have the ability to quickly move the ball from one side of the frontcourt to the other. Teams that have a bias to keep the ball on one side of the court invite the defensive players on the offside to cheat by dropping into the paint, ready to help teammates guarding opponents on the ball side.

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