A live ball situation is when the player possesses the basketball, but he has not dribbled. He holds the ball and has the option to pass, shoot or dribble.
Triple Threat/Hard2Guard position
When a player has the ball in his hands, as opposed to dribbling, coaches call the desired position the Triple Threat position. The Triple Threat refers to the ability to pass, shoot or dribble. In practice, however, the Triple Threat often becomes a defensive position with the player hiding the ball from his defender. Therefore, I use the Hard2Guard position, which is the same basic principle.
- Triple Threat: the player holds the ball at his hip with his pivot foot forward. The tendency in this position, when pressured, is to turn away from the pressure and go into a “turtle” position, especially with young players.
- Hard2Guard: the player starts with the ball cocked into shooting position in the shot pocket (roughly the armpit). Body is squared to the basket, eyes toward the basket and lead foot forward. To protect the ball, he keeps the ball active using pass fakes, ball fakes, shot fakes and pivots.
Regardless of the terminology and position, the point is to be strong with the ball, protect the ball from the defense and be in a position to make a play with the pass, shot or dribble. In that respect, a complement to the Hard2Guard position is the Box:
- Box: When defended closely, avoid the area in the middle of your body between your knees and chest. To move the ball from side to side, rip through low with wrists below your knees or rip through high leading with your elbows across your hairline. [Video 37]
To protect the ball, combine the idea of the Box with front and reverse pivots to keep the ball active, rather than holding the ball in one spot for the defense to grab.
Live Ball Moves
The basic footwork to protect the ball, create space and initiate an offensive attack are the space step, jab step, drive step, direct drive and crossover drive.
To set up a move, keep the defender off-balance and protect the ball, use the jab step or the space step, as the situation dictates.
- Jab Step: A small step used to set up a move, create space or keep the defender off balance. The jab step must be long enough to make the defender believe it is a drive step, but short enough to keep the offensive player well-balanced. Make a quick, hard step. Rip ball to knee. Keep 60-70% of one’s weight on the pivot (push) foot to avoid the travel.
- Space Step: Step your lead leg between the defender’s legs; if the defender does not move, sweep low and attack. If the defender gives ground, sweep to a Hard2Guard position to find a teammate, an open shot or an opportunity to attack. Use the space step to clear space and square to the basket when receiving the ball with back to the basket. A quick space step clears space to reverse pivot into a Hard2Guard position or for a sweep-and-go move. The space step is like a jab step, but is a bigger step used to create space and relieve ball pressure, not necessarily to set up a move.
When making your move, your drive step is your first step. If your pivot foot is your left foot, your drive step will be with your right foot. To make a quick, aggressive first step:
- Attack the defender’s top foot to force him to turn his hips.
- Attack directly past the defender: Put your shoulder on his hip, going body up, body in.
- Attack with a big first step, but keep your nose over toes. Do not over extend.
- Knock away the defender’s hand and keep your inside shoulder low.
- Extend with your dribble.
- Keep head and eyes up to see the floor.
There are two possible directions for your drive step: a direct drive or a crossover drive.
- Direct Drive: your first step is in the direction of your lead foot. The first step and the hand that dribbles are on the same side of the body. For example, if your left foot is your pivot foot, you step with your right foot and dribble with your right hand. You attack to the right of the defender (from your viewpoint).
- Crossover Drive: your first step is across your body so you attack in the direction of your pivot foot. The first step and the hand that dribbles are different. For example, if your left foot is your pivot foot, you step with your right foot and dribble with your left hand. You attack to the left of the defender.