If you do any trapping or pressing at all in your defense, then teaching good double-teaming skills are essential for a good press. I've watched plenty of teams try to press, but fail because they didn't trap properly. I went through some notes the other day and found these great tips on double-teaming from Don Casey:


Every team that wants to surprise the opponent must be able to double-team on every type of defense. How to double-team is the same for man-to-man defense and for zone defense. While two defenders double-team the ball handler, the other three have to form a triangle. One of these players floats and goes where needed, while the other covers all moves to the basket. When the basket is protected, any defense can risk to double- team the man with the ball.

Double-Team Rules:

There are five basic double-team situations in every type of defense: the guard with the guard; the guard with the forward; the forward with the guard; the forward with post; and the guard with the post. Double-team is based on quickness and surprise, and all the defenders should follow the following rules:

- Three steps rule. The defender, who goes to double-team, must be able to reach the ball handler in three rapid steps.

- Don’t break up the double-team rule. The defenders must assume a large base and put one of their feet as close as possible to their teammate’s foot.

- Active hands rule. The defenders must have their hands active trying to deflect the ball.

When Double-Teaming:

The defenders must know when to go to double-team. Some of the best situations include the following offensive situations: a pick and roll; a dribbling wave; a guard passing the ball to the forward and follows the pass to receive a hand-off pass; a pass to the post and the passer goes to the angle. When a team knows when and how to double-team, there are several tactics of double-teaming that can be used with
every type of defense.

Leading Guides to Double-Team:

Hubie Brown, two-time NBA Head Coach of the Year and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, affirms that there must be guideline rules for doubleteams, but also that coaches must be flexible and permit their players to be creative. Brown identified these as the most important principles to follow in order to double-team. The best spots on the court where double-team are the sidelines, the baselines, the angles, and the half court line. Play at contact with the ball handler and close to him. Do not let the ball handler pass through the double-team. Once you decide to double-team, do not to stop or hesitate and stay in the “no men’s land.”

Teach players not involved in the double-team to understand what the double-teamed player may try to do. Once the double-team is done, let the most distant player from the ball free. Do not permit the offensive players on the help side to cut quickly toward the ball to receive a pass. Coach the defenders on the rotation on the help side. Keep the double-team until the ball handler passes the ball and the ball is in the air. Do not permit a penetrating pass that goes out of the double-team. If a back pass is forced, keep on playing zone defense, and try to double-team again. Guard the
shooters closely and do not let them get free.


I especially like the part where Casey describes how you should teach your players to anticipate what the opponent will do to try and break the double-team. That's the whole point of trapping and pressing, is to anticipate what your opponent will do before they actually do it, that way you create the turnover.

I used to be a huge proponent of trapping and pressing, do it all game long. I'm more of a "use it when the situation requires" school of thought now. There are times (behind late in games) when you obviously need to trap and press so I think every coach needs allocate proper practice time to both teach trapping and how to break traps.

For a little different take on pressure defense, take a look at Mike Moran's new DVD on his Full-Combo Defense. Coach Moran uses a unique combination approach of pressure and release in an attempt to take away your opponents best scoring threats. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.