When To Run a Full Court Press

Great basketball teams mix it up and keep their opponents guessing

Basketball is a great game to play and watch but nothing excites me more than watching a team change defenses or schemes during the game. The reason I love it so much is because of the strategy that then gets set in motion. When teams change things up then coaches have to adapt and that is really when things get moving. One of the best weapons a team has is the use of a full-court-press and I want to talk about 3 different times when a press is effective and when it should be set up.

1. When you need to change the tempo

Teams often think that presses are created just to get steals and cause turnovers but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Missouri is coached by Mike Anderson who is notorious for his ’40 minutes of hell’ style that he learned from Nolan Richardson at Arkansas. The idea behind his pressure is simply to create a tempo that he wants his team to play at. It ensures in almost every case that his team will be able to play at the speed they want to play at. When Missouri struggles it is when they aren’t able to get their press in play and speed up the other team. They want an up and down style that is caused by the press and if it creates turnovers then great, but if not then they still get their desired purpose.

2. To wake up your team

If your team is playing flat then nothing can get them to play harder or wake up like a press can. It is along the same lines as #1 but different in the sense that sometimes a team just comes out with a lack of energy and the press gets them running and involved in the game quicker. I love watching teams that employ a press when starting a game just to ensure that they get out on the court and know the game is on from the opening tip. It’s a great reason why Missouri and pressing teams are so successful especially early in the season.

3. To create turnovers

This one is the most obvious but when teams are pressured they tend to make mistakes. The press creates the feeling of having to hurry or getting rushed to make a play. Players often have more than one defender coming at them and it causes them to stress and make poor choices. Turnovers lead to easy baskets and more possessions for the other team. Any time the defense can take away a shot chance they improve their chance of winning in the end.

Other situations worth considering the full court press

Some great times to throw a press out are after made baskets, made foul shots, inbound plays on the opposite ends of the court or even on missed foul shots. Most coaches will have some presses taught to each team that will be used in certain situations.