Playing in the post can be hard work and is not always the most glamorous position. You have to work hard to get a catch on the block and then hope that one of the guards passes the ball in to you. Along with battling in the post you have to be willing to set screens for your teammates and help them get scoring opportunities, usually without any recognition to yourself.
Also, unless you are an amazing shot blocker, dunker, or extremely dominant in the post on the offensive end, the position does not receive much recognition, but without having a player battling in the trenches and doing all the things that go along with playing this position the team is going to struggle to win. That is why it is important that you learn everything that goes into being a great basketball post player and then mastering those skills. Here is a list of things that every post player should know.
Position Makes all the Difference
When you are in the post with the basketball the difference between having a foot in the paint and being 2-3 feet off of the block makes all the difference in the world. As you are posting up on the block you should be trying to battle for the best position possible. Get your work done before the ball gets there, and bury the defender under the basket. Put them in a situation where the only way to stop you from scoring is by having to foul you.
When you are battling for position you want to make sure that you have good timing as well. If you try to duck in too early then you will be pushed back out before you get the ball. As the ball is coming around the arc you want to time it so that you can duck in and receive the ball before the defender can recover.
Screens are Scoring Opportunities
Don’t treat setting screens in basketball as a chore and something that you don’t want to do. Setting a good screen can be a great scoring opportunity for yourself. The reason why is because your defender will have to help on the player that you just set a screen for, and that opens up the opportunity for you to space, role, slip, etc. This will never happen though if you are not willing to set good screens for your teammates.
After you set a screen you never want to stand. You want to read the cutter or the ball handler and then react to them. So for example, if you are setting a down screen for a shooter and they curl around your screen, you wouldn’t want to dive to the basket because they are already there. In that situation you pop or space for a mid-range shot. On the other hand, if the cutter straight cuts off of your screen then you would dive to the basket for a finish or to post up. You must read the cutter using your screen first and then make your play.
Run the Floor
Running the floor on offense can get easy baskets for you, but it also creates shooting opportunities for the wing players. The reason why is because you are going to rim run right down the middle of the floor (beating your defender down the floor) and this will put the defense in a situation where they have to either give up a layup/dunk to you or an open shot to the wing players running to the 3 point line.
Another situation is that your man is already back on defense to meet you, but you rim run again and bury him/her under the basket with a duck in move, catch the ball from a post feed, and then finish right at the basket. The only reason this works though is because you are able to get down the floor quickly and get into it before the defense gets set and is able to be in help position.
Anchor the Defense
You are most likely going to be guarding the other team’s post player on the block (unless they are a stretch post player) and this means that you are in the perfect position to anchor the defense. Being in this position allows you to see everything on the floor and everything that the other team is trying to do on offense. This leaves you with the responsibility to communicate with your teammates and call out screens, cutters, etc. One of the best players that I have ever seen at doing this is Kevin Garnett. If you watch one of his games you will see him communicating the entire time with his teammates. This time of communication can be invaluable to your defense.
Not only can you see everything on the floor, but you are also the last line of defense to the basket. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a 7 foot shot blocker, but it does mean that you need to be able to either contest a shot or learn how to take a charge. A big key to this is being able to read what the offense is doing and then be able to position yourself correctly. You want to be able to establish the defensive position so that the offensive player has to make a very difficult finish over you. You must learn to be able to contest without fouling and putting the other team on the line.
Dominate the Boards
The first step to dominating the boards on defense or offense is having the desire to do so. As a post player you must consciously be thinking about rebounding the basketball. There are different basketball rebounding drills that you can do as a player, but if you don’t want the ball more than your opponent they are no good.
If you have the desire to rebound as a post player you can move on to the next step, and that is your rebounding technique. Depending on whether your opponent is in front of you or behind you when the shot goes up will determine what type of technique you will use. If they are in front of you than you can either try to ride them under the basket so that they don’t have a good rebounding angle (don’t extend your arm or it will be a foul) or you could try a spin move or something along those lines to get back in front of them. Both types of moves can be effective and it will be up to you to make the correct read in a game situation.
If the defender is behind you when the shot goes up you want to first meet them with your forearm, and then drive them backwards with your box out. As you drive them backwards keep your arms out and your hands up. This will make you wider and harder to get around, as well as keep you from getting a foul by wrapping your hands around the player you are boxing out.
In all situations once you have located the ball you need to release and go grab the ball. Don’t wait for the ball to come down to you, but go get it at its highest point.
To dominate the post position as a player it takes a conscious effort to first learn what is needed and then to apply it. The work you do will not always be appreciated by the average fan or untrained eye, but your teammates and coaches will know what you bring to the team. They will know that you directly effect the teams success.