Updated: May 23, 2021
Scoring against a taller player can seem like one of the most daunting tasks a player can face. But by using your advantages and developing skills such as speed, low leverage, shooting ability, and ball handling, can allow you to counter balance this and allow for easier and more effortless scoring. In this article I will be giving you a more in depth view on how to use these advantages for your benefit to score more points over taller defenders.
1. Getting Low
Using your leverage is your superpower as a shorter player. This is because attacking a defender hips opens up your defender. Remember "low man wins" in terms of basketball and this can even be true if your a similar size to your defender, but can be amplified, and even easier if you are the shorter player. Getting low also allows you as a player to finish through contact easier. This is because since your center of gravity is much lower than your defender you can push him back and create space. This is also known as a bump.
Notice how Lebron James even though he is a great athlete, uses getting low to his advantage. Getting that shoulder into your defender and creating space can help you finish over taller defenders and easily be able to get your shot off.
Tips To Practice Staying Low- The hardest part about staying low with dribbling and driving is getting used to it. It can be tricky at first but a simple rule to follow is dribbling below your knee height. The reason I recommend this for practicing is this will force your to get low, because dribbling below your knees at a standing position is nearly impossible.
2. Attacking Your Defenders lead Foot
This is a little trick some of the best NBA players use and especially smaller guards use to score over taller defenders. It might seem counter intuitive to attack the lead foot because it seems like that is the side the defender wants you to go. But again attacking the defenders lead foot opens the defender up almost like a door. If you keep attacking that lead foot the defender will have to open up more and more which causes him to become of balance and not be in a good position to guard you. Which can help you score even if you are giving up height to your defender.
3. Pull Up Jumper
The pull up Jumper can be the great equalizer in terms of height. This is because if you use the tips above about opening your defenders hips up and forcing your defender to sprint back and cut you off on the drive, a pull up jumper allows you to get a jumper off quickly and with enough space to comfortably get your shot off. Look at guys like Kyrie Irving or even Isiah Thomas who are able to get pull up jump shots off, even though they are relatively small for the NBA game.
The dribble pull up is usually the counter to a defender who is sprinting to the hoop and trying to cut you off, and that works so well against taller defenders because taller defenders are naturally going to be worried about your driving ability. Which is the ideal opportunity for a pull up jump shot. I usually recommend a two motion shot for a pull up jumper if you want to learn how to do that check out the link below
4. Change Of Speed
Changing speed is a great way to score over taller defenders as this allows you to use your skill set as a shorter player over a taller player. But I want to emphasize and say that changing speeds doesn't always mean going from 0 to 100 all the time. It can mean going from 90 back to 30 back to 100.
A great example of changing speeds against a taller defender is off of jab step steps. By slowly jabbing at your defender and then quickly exploding, this move will throw off your defender and allow you to get to the spot before he can. One way I recommend practicing changing speeds is by playing lots and lots of one on one games and emphasizing change of speed, and seeing what works against certain defenders.
5. Attacking In Transition
This might be the best time to attack a taller defender. You can get much easier scores and baskets under these circumstances. This is because the advantages that would go to a taller player in the half court are now in your hands as a player.
You finally get to use your speed, lower leverage, and since your opponent is backing up he cannot jump as high to block your shot. If your are struggling in the game against a taller opponent then attacking in transition is a great way for you to get you easy scores and get you more in a rhythm as the game goes on.
6. Extending Your Range
Now one of the disadvantages a shorter player has when being guarded by a taller defender is, that a taller defender can play you farther back and still be able to contest your shot, since they have so much length on you. Understanding that, you can now work on extending your range.
extending your range in basketball allows you to get more space and gives you a better opportunity to drive since your defender will have to guard you much farther away from the basket. That is why a guy like Steph Curry can get to he rim so efficiently, even through he is not the biggest, tallest or athletic guard in the world.
Pump Fakes- If you do have good shooting range and are being guarded by a taller defender, pump fakes are a great move to use against a much taller player. Especially on close outs or any type of hesitation move.
Step Backs- A step back might be the best move against a taller defender, with shooting range and an ability to drive to the hole, if a defender tries to cut you off, using a step back will give you a lot of space, and better allow you to get a shot over that taller defender. For more info on how to use a step back in basketball take a look at this article. https://www.detailedhooper.com/post/how-to-shoot-a-step-back-in-basketball
Hesitations- This is great for any scorer but especially if are are giving up a few inches in height to your defender. Hesitations allow you as a offensive player to keep your opponent guessing, and unsure about what your going to do, which in turn allows you to get more shots off, and easier drives to the rim.
7. Screen And Rolls
No doubt a screen in roll is great against taller defenders especially if your a point guard or shooting guard. Using a screen will give you the opportunity to get that little bit of space and separation against a taller defender. I recommend shorter players when using on ball screens to always come off the screen tight shoulder to shoulder with your center so that they can actually get contact with your defender, which gives you more space to attack and penetrate the defense.
8. Initiating Contact
One of the reasons I always recommend initiating contact specially over taller defenders is again this is your super power, tall lengthy guys are not going to be able to take a bump like that if you drive hard to the hoop and use some of the tips I recommend above. A master of this was Raymond Felton who only standing a couple inches above 6 foot was able to score on guys even in the NBA. Use those advantages you have for your benefit.
Another way to successfully initiate contact is to go into your defender with speed and explosiveness, this does not mean being out of control, but by changing speeds attacking the lead foot, and getting low.
Floater are a great way to counter act a taller defender. This is because trying to elevate and going over a taller bigger opponent is going to much more difficult than simply doing a floater and rising the ball over your defender finger tips. What is so great about the floater vs taller defenders is that a floater can be a very quick shot which makes it hard for your defender to react. It is also not hard to do a floater on the run which in many cases will be necessary, since stopping gives your defender more time to block your shot. If you do find it difficult to do a floater on the run then stopping and initiating contact will allow you to create that space to get the floater off.
Finishing High- I also recommend when shooting a floater to shoot higher than usual, as this allows you to get more touch and arc, which also helps getting over that taller player. An easy way to get more arc and touch on your floater is to extend your elbow and lock it higher to the sky. But like anything do what works best for you and practice this shot over and over, since it requires so much touch this can be hard to master.
Now this might not be for every player since this can be a very tough skill to learn and use well in games. But if you master this then having this in your bag, you can virtually get this off any time you like. As you see in the GIF a fadeaway is great to use against a taller defender as this allows you to create more space and keep your body between you and your defender.
You can use this for a variety of different situations, from off the dribble and even posting up. A fadeaway is a great way to get the ball over your defender in the post. For Fadeaways in the mid range like this I usually recommend a two motion shot, for more information on if a two motion jump shot is right for you check out the link below
11. Creative Finishes
A lot of times when driving to the basketball against taller defenders your going to have to finish in weird or awkward situations.
For Example A reverse layup- is a great way to score over taller defenders because this allows you to use the rim as protection against your defenders out stretched arms. Like anything though being a better finisher requires a lot of practice and work and if you want to be a guy who can score over taller defenders, you should be practicing your finishing abilities by playing lots of one on one and simply using your imagination to envision in game scenarios you might face.
One thing that can be hard when trying to score over a taller defender if your nerves. A lot of players have programs in there head telling them they cannot score on that guy because he is too tall. But the truth of the matter is that shorter players have advantages too. That you can use to score over taller defenders. Remember their have been many players that probably aren't that much more athletic or different than you and they score on taller defenders with ease,
I cant and I wont are two completely different things. Like anything though practicing more against taller defenders will get you more used too and experienced with those situations, which in turn will allow you to score over taller defenders and become a better basketball player in general.
13. Knowing When To Attack
Against a taller defender you are not always going to have the luxury of rising over your opponent and getting a shot off whenever you like. This comes with a lot of practice and experience but there are situations you can look for, for when they do arise in a game and then you can know when to attack and look to score.
Their on there back foot- A lot of this involves you going down hill and you dictating whats happening on offense vs your defender. If you ever see your defender is back pedaling or or off balance this is your time to attack or rise up for a shot. They do not have the momentum in this situation to block your shot or rise up for a tough contest.
Your defender is not set when guarding- What I mean by this is basically anything where your defender has to move toward you and isn't set when guarding. This can be a fantastic way to score over a taller defender because this is your chance to attack him and get into his body and beat him too the spot. That is why we see so many shorter guys attacking taller defenders on close out scenarios, because they can use there speed and quickness to blow by them.
Know who is guarding you- If you have a guy guarding you who is a phenomenal defender or you just can't seem to get good looks on him, then ask for more ball screens or move off ball. You don't only have to score one on one against a taller player. Its important to know your limitations and your opponents strengths. Be creative, even if the other guy has all the advantages over you, then try and score in other ways, like tip ins rebounds, or transition points.
Thank you for reading I hope this article helped give you some tips and tricks to score over taller defenders. I am curious if you y'all thought I missed anything or what you did to get used to scoring over taller players, what methods and tips did you implement into your game. Again thank you and keep hooping my friends.
Other Great article that give you tips to be a better basketball player even if you are shorter.