Off ball movement is one of the easiest ways for a player to become a more versatile and effective scorer. It is also one of the least utilized and talked about parts off the game even though it is one of the most important parts of the game.
The difference between the between being an elite scorer and a good scorer can come down to your ability to move without the ball.
Basketball is a team game and even if your the teams primary ball handler, you will still be without the ball most of the time, that is why it is important for you to learn how to get open and move without the ball.
To move well without the ball effectively, you need to be a player that, understands spacing and court positioning, knows when and where to cut, and be a player who is just as aggressive moving without the ball as they would be with the ball in their hands.
In this article I will be going over all the things you need to become a better off ball player on the offensive end, like how to get open, how to cut, and even how to have your teammates give you the ball.
1. Know Your Teams System
Knowing your teams system is important, when talking about off ball movement, because it will give you a better idea of when and where to cut when you do not have the ball in your hands.
A simple way to be better at this is watching film, of not only your team but even watching basketball in general can give you a better idea of what your coach is looking for when you move off ball.
Another tip is asking your coach, when and where I should move given the certain circumstance. This will help because your coach will help you understand certain positions and sisutations he wants you to cutt in. Which in turn will make it easier to score.
2. Know Your Opponents Coverage
This tip is very important is you want to get the ball in good areas on the floor in which you can score.
And by understanding team defenses you wll understand when and where you need to go to get the ball and move more effective in your off ball movement.
For example if you are playing a team, who is playing a 2-3 zone, then you should know to cutt and move into the middle off the floor where the empty spaces are.
But if your playing a team who is denying the ball, then it will be a good idea to use back cuts and cutt behind your teams defenders since they are pressuring up.
By understanding these little things, you in turn will become better at knowing when to attack in your off ball movement.
3. Understand Your Teammates
This comes down to knowing there play style and how they like to play the game. This helps in off ball movement because it can help you know where to move and where they might pass the ball.
For example, if you are playing with a guy, who likes to drive to the hoop a lot, then it would be a good idea to relocate to the 3 point line since the defense is most likely to collapse.
Things like this can go a long way to even help space the floor for your teammates so they have a better chance at getting a good shot for their team.
Cutting is a great way to score from your off ball movement, and so many players do not utilize this very important part off the game.
Below I will go over certain cuts, that will help you score, and put you in positions to score and get the ball from your teammates.
The back cut is one of the most effective and best cuts for off ball movements, this cut is usually done when your defender is playing really up close to you and trying to deny the ball.
Another great part about the back cut is that it keeps the defense honest, when trying to deny the ball. If you have one successful back cut in the course of a game, your defender is going to be much more cautious trying to deny the ball.
Pro tip: When doing a back cut make sure to set your defender up and make him think your going up to get the ball. This will make the back cut that much more unpredictable, and allow you to get that space from your defender and get the ball.
Below is a great video showing you the effectiveness of the back cut in basketball
L Cut- The L cut is great for getting the ball on the perimeter, the basics of this cut is too walk your defender up with you, and the dart across to catch this pass.
Some basics tips for this is too change speed, and initiate a little bit of contact, as this will back your defender off you and create even more space for you to catch it on the perimeter.
Below is a great video giving you more in depth information on the L cut.
Face Cut- The face cut is any cut the involves you curling to the basket, in front of your defender.
This cut can be great on give and gos, or if you find your defender not doing a good job of keeping his eyes on the man and the ball.
5. Know Your Play Style
This is important with off ball cuts because it will usually dictate what position your team puts you in, and what you will have to do to get open.
For example if your a player, who likes to shoot the ball, then you should utilize off ball screens and curls to get open, and when teams play off on you then that is when you should back cut.
This comes down to knowing who you are as a player, and if you want to get the ball where you feel most comfortable, then you should know your style of play especially for off ball cuts.
While off ball movement is great, in order to make it effective for you and your team, you must do it, with proper spacing in mind.
A lot of this comes down to your teams system and game plan, but there are some general rules to spacing you need to follow in order to really be effective at it and do it the right way.
-When your teammate dribbles at you either back cut or relocate to a different area unless it is a hand off or ball screen.
-Never be next to one of your teammates unless that is part of the play
-Do not bring your defender into your teammates
These are general rules you can live by to space the floor, and make sure your off ball movements serves you and your team to its fullest degree.
Off ball screens can be one of the hardest things to guard especially in basketball, by knowing how to read screens, you can get yourself easy throughout a game.
Below are certain ways to attack off ball screens, and how to read the defender to ensure you will be open on that end.
I will be giving both examples on how to attack the screen if your the one setting the screen and if your the one who is getting there defender screened .
Pro Tip: For any off ball screen you get it is important to feel and read your defender, and also come off the screen tight, so you can get in good position to score and get open from your defender.
Curl- The curl is great to use if your defender is coming behind you on a screen, and this can usually set yourself up for a drive and catch toward the rim. But this can also be a great opportunity to shoot the ball in this scenario.
As a player setting the screen popping out is effective here, because your defender is most likely going to help off the curl, which in turn will make you wide open for a shot.
Flare Cut- A flare cut is when you reject a screen and flare out, you make this read as a player, when your defender tries to go over the screen and cut off the pass.
As a screener, a simple way to read this, is if you see your defender going out and helping off the flare pass, simply cut right down to the basket, and get an easy layup.
Below is a great video explaining how to read a screen and when to flare out for that screen.
Slips- Now while slips are not necessarily, a screen per say, they are usually great used in a screening action, and can be a very quick and un predictable way to get open without the ball.
To have an effective slip, in basketball, you need to really fake out your opponent and sell it, and make him think you are really going to set that screen.
Below is a video to help explain when you should look to slip as the off ball screen er to get yourself open, and get easy baskets.
8. Dont Stop Moving
While, of course there are circumstances where you should stay put, when you do not have the ball in your hands, most of the time you should be moving somewhere or doing something.
This does not always have to be a cut, but it could be as simple as a quick jab, or relocating even a couple steps, to make sure the spacing is right for your team.
Whatever it is, make sure to keep your defense honest, and have them always think you are a threat to score, off the ball.
9. Change Your Mindset
When I say change your mindset, what I mean, is changing the way you look at off ball movement.
Instead of being less aggressive when you do not have the ball, be just as aggressive and eager to score as if you did have the ball in your hands.
I see so many players, take this approach to the game, but in reality you are just as effective without the ball as you are with the ball.
For example, J.J Reddick is a guy who struggles to break down players with the ball in his hand, but he has made a living in the NBA based of his off ball movement.
So try it out, instead of being, less motivated without the ball, try being aggressive without it, and see what it does to your game, and your team as a whole.
10. Call For The Ball
If you want to get the ball, after a cut to the basket, or a curl to the rim, you actually have to call for the ball.
You can do all the things I mentioned above, but if you do not let your teammates know you are open, then a lot of times they are going to miss you.
This does not always have to be with your voice this can be with simple gestures like you hand, or even your eyes, if you really have good chemistry with your teammates.
11. Communicate With Your Teammates
This is vital when talking about off ball movement because you can use your teammates to get ideas, and let them know where you will be open in the upcoming possessions.
This can also be on the floor as well, as they can tell you where to go on offense and what spots might be open for you.
12. Be unpredictable
For almost anything to work in basketball, especially when talking about off ball movement, your probably going to need to throw off your opponent in some way.
Change of Speeds- This is great to throw off your opponent because you have the advantage of knowing when you will be taking off and cutting to the basket.
This is especially great on back door cuts, or when setting up a off ball screen.
Attack When Your Defender Is Not Looking- This is great in off ball movement, because by the very nature of it, players tend to lock onto the ball, and not there man at times.
Use this to your advantage and when you see this look to cut to the hoop and get an easy score.
Below is a great example of James Harden Falling asleep on defense and the offensive player knowing when to cut.
13. Use Contact
Contact is a great way to get space, especially, closer to the basket, like the midpost or even the paint.
Its important when using contact to get your defender at an angle, and not push out to draw a foul.
When using contact, you should bump into your defender and then pop out, this will allow you to use your momentum, and have them delay there recovering time.
14. Be A Wide Receiver
I know, you might be thinking, this is a basketball article not a football one. But in reality, getting open in basketball and being a wide receiver, can be very similar in there movements and techniques.
For example as a basketball player, you are going to need to utilize, jukes, and even spin moves, at times to get open just like receiver would in football.
So when moving off ball in basketball, think of your self as a receiver trying to get open in football.
15. Utilize fast breaks
Off ball movement is really important is fast break scenerios, and can be a great way to get open, and get easy buckets for your team.
When running the fastbreak without the ball, you want to fill the lanes correctly and make sure to be spaced out from your teamates.
You have options, without the ball in the fastbreak, you can either flare out to the conrer and shoot and three or cut to the basket and try to get the layup.
Its important though you read the situation and go to the spot with the most space.
Pro Tip: A lot of times it helps to be just in front of the ball handler, or just behind because that gives your teammates the best passing angle to get you the ball.
Also on fast breaks if you know your teammates are going to get the rebound, leak out a bit and look to get behind the defense for a score.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How do I get open in the post?
Answer: A great way to get open in the post, is by initiating contact with your opponent and creating an angle for the passing lane.
Another great way I have seen work, is by posting up suddenly, and quickly.
For example, go to the paint area and when your close to the basket, quickly post up, and almost explode into your defender, even if he is bigger, just by your momentum, and quick reaction, that can get you open and into good post position.
For more information on how to get open in the post check out the video below
Question: How do i get my teammates to pass me the ball more?
Answer: I think a great way to get your teammates to pass you the ball more is one by communicating with them. And two by showing them how hard you are working to get open off the ball.
Remember your teammates are people too, and if your talking with them, and showing them how hard you are working then that should, get them to pass you the ball more.
Question: How do you practice off ball movement?
Answer: I think a great way to inc operate off ball movement into your workouts, is by practicing certain cuts, during you finishing and shooting portions off your workout.
For example if you are practicing your three point shooting, then imagine you are coming off a curl screen, or flare screen, to get you used to shooting that way in games.
I hope this article gave you a complete breakdown, on how to get open, and move without the ball in basketball.
Let me know what ya'll think and what strategies and techniques you use to get open and move off ball in basketball.
Thank you for reading, and as always, keep hooping my friends.