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Teaching the Run and Jump Press
By Michael Wells
Courtesy of


Many coaches have a great fear of teaching the run and jump press. I have found that this defense can be taught very effectively beginning as early as the junior high level. Athletes love this press because it gives them a reason to hustle and gamble on defense with not alot of rules. The main key is to emphasize to the players that all pressuring and gambling is done in the BACKCOURT. In summary, teach your players the press and let them go - don't be too restrictive.

I begin by showing small parts of the press and slowly advancing until we have the whole defense intact.

STEP 1: Two on Two Run and Jump Drill:

We begin by making two lines at the baseline. I usually begin by using only about 30 feet of width of the floor, thus we have two lanes about 15 feet in width running the length of the floor. The two players in front of each line come out and play defense - they will be playing defense against the person behind them in line. The offense must advance the ball up the floor but will be faced with a number of restrictive rules that helps us teach the run and jump press. Offense Restriction Rules: (1) all passes from player to player must be parallel or backwards. (2) you may beat the defense down the floor on the dribble but it must be down the sideline - no busting between the defense with dribbles down the court. (3) offensive players stay in their lane and do not cross over or switch lanes with their offensive partner. The Defense Run and Jump Rules are: (1) play tough defense on your man when he has the ball - you want to force the dribble down the sideline and then cut him off - the goal is to stop the dribble or make the player spin dribble back into a help defender. (2) the help defender sees the player with the ball dribble toward the sideline - when he thinks a possible spin move will happen, he will need to be at the spin spot squared up, in his face, with hands up. The offensive player is caught off guard because he has now just spun with a reverse dribble right into the face of a trapping defender. (3) if the offensive player keeps his dribble going then both defenders must stay on the dribbler and double team him. (4) if the player picks up his dribble - the help defender yells "jump" - this will free the original ball defender to sprint across the court and pick up the open player left by the help man.

Remember that all passes must be made parallel or backward on this drill. Now the same play is ran down the other sideline and the same situation is repeated. A big mistake defenders will make is running off to double team and the offensive player sees him coming while dribbling - this makes it too easy for the offensive player to quickly pass the ball to the open man - the point of emphasis should be "element of surprise." The dribbler needs to have his back to the help defender so he does not see him coming over to "jump press."

STEP 2: Three on Three Run and Jump Drill

Refer back to the previous drill for most of the rules. We now have 3 lanes and are playing 3 on 3. The only way the offense can get the ball down the floor is to swing it fast and dribble down the sideline. We now have some added rules for the defense. When the help man goes over and traps (this will be the defender in the middle lane), the far lane defender gets off his man and goes hard for the passing lane of the middle lane offensive player. The player who is playing the ball and has cut off his man - when he hears the trap man yell "jump" - he sprints across the court - he sees the middle lane man covered thus he has to find the next open man - it will be the offensive player in the far lane - he will have to hustle. Note - we don't allow the offense to pass the ball with skip passes on this drill - this will buy some time for the defender but in reality it is usually a dangerous pass anyway (cross court lob pass).
If the defense can just contain on this drill sometimes we get 10 second counts and this should be a defensive goal we need to emphasize.

When beginning to teach these drills you may want to have your best defensive players learn to work together - thus you pair them up or put them in groups of 3's. We also have our post players do the dribbling when we are first beginning. As the defense learns the press rules and does the drills efficiently we then have our best pressure defenders and best dribblers go against each other.

You can work your 2 Man and 3 Man Press Drills with just your perimeter players. On the other end of the court your post players can be running different drills with an assistant coach. We do this on some practices and then on the other hand we have practices where we include all players on our run and jump drills. When you work full court scrimmage and transitions drills the players will naturally run the "run and jump press". You will need to expose the defense to situations where they must learn how to locate their "player" quickly, thus you will have to run transition drills (scrimmage).

In summary - teach the press with the above drills and turn your quickest players loose with aggressive play as long as it is done in the BACKCOURT.



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