I recently received an email from a coach with this question: Can you tell me what my guards should do before and during penetration and how they should end up at the rim? As I prepared to answer the question, it made sense to me what this coach really wanted to know. Like any other skill in basketball, there are a number of skills that come from the bottom line. Let’s take a look at the secrets to scoring on the rim. In this article we will analyze what happens before and during penetration into the rim.

There are many items to consider when breaking down this skill. There is an art to scoring from the dribble, as opposed to the coach telling his players to just “get to the basket.”


1. The first thing is to clear your defender. Of course, there are many ways to do this. 2. Knowing that you are on a clear or open side also favors the thinking of the players. See that it is possible to drive to the basket.


1. Once close to the defender, the ball handler needs to quickly inspect the ground. Good teams will not let you pass and get to the cut. They will have established aid levels. By survey, I mean visually checking the floor for a path to the basket OR for opportunities to pass.

2. I have always taught Stride stop as a way for the dribbler to be in control but strong on the ball at the same time. This is where many children get lost. They are convinced that they are driving him to the rim, eliminating any chance of assistance. Many players, at this time, jump in the air to make a play. The stride stop is a controlled jump stop and pivot at the deepest point of penetration. It allows for control, balance, good decision making, a shot chance and a passing chance.

3. If there is a clear path to the rim, the ball must be carried to the rim with the strongest possible method. Some players can lift it hard with one foot. Others need to jump, stop, then go up and finish.

Finishing at the Edge

1. Strength is the key. Protecting the ball as they go up with the ball. Use the term “Take the defender with you.” In other words, the key is not letting defenders get in touch to STOP your momentum to the rim.

2. Concentration is crucial. Most players focus on the impending contact rather than the rim. When this happens, the contact becomes the focus, not the shot.

3. Using a blocking dummy and simulated defenders is good because it simulates contact at the rim.

4. Terms I have used over the years:

For. Finish at the hoop, which means they have to drop the ball as close to the hoop as possible. It makes sense that the less the ball has to travel, the more likely it is to do so.

B. Play THROUGH contact.

vs. Take the defender with you.

D. Wait for contact: How many times have you seen a player get fouled or hit hard and act like they have NO IDEA that there was going to be any contact around the basket? This is a mentality you can help your players to develop. I use the term “assume contact.”

A key to all of this is the ability of players to make DECISIONS — why? Because beating the defender is not a license to reach the basket. It just means that they beat the first line of defense. It is possible to make a layup or a power shot, but so is a pass or a jump shot (the middle distance game). This gives players three options after beating a defender, not just one.

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