Common Basketball Plays

Basketball playersThe plays that the coach lines up before a game of basketball are broken down into categories. There are offensive and defensive plays, out-of-bounds plays, quick hitters, and press breakers. Here are some of the most common basketball plays you can expect to see as a spectator or to encounter as a player this season.

Offensive Plays

Players need to position themselves where they have options to take more than one direction. If your position is on the outside and you receive the ball, you should be able to move, shoot, or pass because you have placed yourself in a flexible station.

Coaches assign players to specific zones on one side of court or the other. As the team with possession moves forward, they force their opponents to change position and open gaps.

Press Breakers

There are numerous options, but in a straightforward press breaker you are trying to get the ball in-bounds as fast as possible. In this case, the defense is unable to set up their play in time to stop you. Open yourself up so there is no obstacle to your back limiting play options. Pass to your point guard since you are under or behind the net with no clear way to score. Let him decide what to do next. He should have enough space around him to make a choice about whether to dribble, shoot, or throw.

Quick Hitters

vert-shock-buyIsolate another player with one-on-one positioning. In this play, you pinpoint the strongest player on your team, the one most likely to score. You also remove the opposition by drawing their attention to the opposite side of the court. Several players move over and leave their shooter alone either without anyone guarding him or just a single player. When he is open you send him the ball, getting it away from the defensive crowd and giving your teammate a relatively clear shot.


Try a box play where the players create a box formation. One player is a little wide of the box to screen another player coming from behind towards the net. On the other side of the box, another player is screening for one behind him in case the ball-holder decides to pass or misses the shot and inadvertently passes to his teammate.

Setting up a Screen

A screen enables the player with the ball or destined to receive a pass to move more freely on the court. Players take on particular opponents, but with a screen the person in defense can’t gain access to his opponent. To make this work, you have to be very close and possibly touching the other player without causing a foul which would ruin the set up. You cannot move around as a screen but must choose a position and stay there confidently. Your role is only short-term.