Press Break

The full court pressure defense, or Press, wants to play an aggressive defense on the backside of the court. The defense is designed to either force a turnover or prevent the offense from crossing halfcourt in ten seconds.

The key to breaking a Press is passing. Our Press Break is intended to enable quick passing to move the ball down court, ahead of the defense. Passes should be smart and sharp, and players without the ball have to move to keep the ball moving. Once the offense crosses halfcourt with the ball, they have “broken” the press and can run their normal halfcourt offense. We can also use this as a fast break method of advancing the ball.

Set Up

Unless another player is designated, the #5 is assigned to bring the ball in, because he normally plays near the baseline and we need to set up as quickly as possible, so that the press defense does not have time to get into place. Normally, the press break will be necessary after the other team has scored. In this case, the player bringing the ball in may move across the baseline to find an opening.

Players #1 and #2 form a “mini-stack” in the middle of the key, between the two blocks. It doesn’t matter which player is in front of the other. As in our offensive in-bound play, the player in back folds his arms up and presses against the front player. The back player taps the front player to tell him which direction he plans to break; the front player will break to the opposite side. (Remember to change this up!)

Players #3 and #4 set up as outlets, approximately on the extended foul line, near the three-point arc.


When #5 (or the player passing in the ball) slaps the ball, #1 and #2 break quickly in the directions chosen by the rear player. #5 delivers the ball with a good, sharp pass to an open teammate, then he breaks into the middle of the court. #3 and #4 should also move, finding an open area in their vicinity.

As the ball is passed down court, players need to continue to move ahead of their teammate with the ball to enable pass opportunities. #5 will trail behind the ball and provide help if the ball handler becomes trapped.

The other players move using simple guidelines. If the ball is passed away from your side, you should move downcourt, ahead of the ball, toward the ball side. Thus, if the ball is on the other side, you should angle toward the ball side. If the ball is on your side of the court, you should move ahead and across the court.

Remember, the way to break the press is to pass quickly and properly. Keep your head up with the ball, don't panic, and look for opportunities to advance the ball toward half court. If your teammate gets trapped, come back and help him, otherwise, continue moving downcourt. We break their press by bringing the ball across halfcourt.

Attacking the Basket

If the ballhandler has an open lane to the goal after crossing halfcourt, he should continue to drive. His teammates should continue to try to sprint ahead of him to give him a pass opportunity or creat a 2-, 3-, or 4- on 1 if there is a defender already downcourt.

In any event, once the ball has crossed half court, the press break has worked and the team can run its normal half court offense. Generally speaking (there ARE exceptions) there is no need to rush now that you're across halfcourt. If you're outnumbered by the defense but you've crossed halfcourt, try to slow things down, let your teammates arrive and set up, then run the halfcourt offense.