Rim running is a key component of an efficient transition offense in basketball. When a post player sprints down the middle of the floor, it unlocks a multitude of options for the offense to exploit. Even more exciting, it is an easily teachable/learnable skill that, once emphasized, shows immediate results. Here's how we teach rim running with the Yale basketball team.
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Points of Emphasis
The first 3 steps. Once the rebound is secured, it's a foot race to the other end. The race is won or lost in the first three steps. We call these "Winner Steps," and with film work, they can be constantly reinforced. Silence condones, and without reinforcement, players will take the path of least resistance.
Sprinting directly to the front of the rim. Deep-paint catches lead to efficient shots and fouls, a must for any high-octane offense. We do not want conventional post-ups out of this situation; we want to catch and score with one dribble max.
Teaching—and rewarding—selfless acts. Similar to setting a great screen or taking a charge, rim running involves sacrifice. Often the score that results from an effective rim run comes from a teammate. We chart and reward "planets" that come when a player uses his "gravitational pull" to free up a teammate.
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This is a simple drill that involves one player, one passer and two coaches. If this is not possible, players waiting their turn can fill in the different roles.
Player 5 passes the ball to the Passer on the right wing. As soon as Player 5 gets past the Coach at the top of key, the Passer throws an over-the-top pass to him. Coach challenges from behind and contests the shot, creating contact with a pad.
Teaching points include keeping the ball high on the catch, gathering yourself and finishing strong through contact. This is an excellent opportunity to get a 3-point play.
Player 5 gets his own rebound and outlets the ball to the Passer. Player 5 sprints the floor toward a Coach who is waiting at the top of the restricted circle holding a pad. Player 5 reverse-pivots, or "x-steps," and buries the Coach under the rim for an easy catch and score.
Teachable points include first three steps after the pass, footwork with the x-step, and running directly to the front of the rim (not the block).
- Everybody loves layups; they are absolutely the best shots you can get. The post player who runs is rewarded with an over-the-top pass when available. An added benefit is that they are devastating to the psyche of your opponents.
- Dump off catch-and-scores. It is a pleasant reward for running the floor, and 2 on 1 and 3 on 2 advantages are among the most efficient scoring opportunities in the game.
- Dribble penetration leading to a score because of occupying the post defender. Remember, rim running is a selfless act, and often the player who scores is a teammate, rather than the post player.
- Uncontested 3-pointers on "planets" when the defense gets pulled in. The defense naturally flattens out with a post player sprinting right through the middle of it, becoming vulnerable to open catch-and-shoot 3s.
- Keeping teams off the offensive glass. An underrated aspect of the rim run is that it makes opposing post players think twice about recklessly crashing the offensive board. Once a man is beaten down the floor for a layup, he will think about it all game.
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