Basketball is a game of quick movements and cutting. On offense there are several types of cuts that are commonly made during the course of a game. We will review the terminology associated with these cuts and provide key points in how to become more effective when executing a cut.
A back-cut is when a player cuts behind their defender towards the basket. Most back-cuts are made when the defensive player is playing aggressive defense and denying the offensive player from getting the ball.
Tips: Walk toward your defender before you make your backdoor cut. This change of pace confuses the defender and makes them think you are trying to move toward the ball to receive a pass.
Check out these backdoor cut highlights
A front-cut is when a player cuts in front of their defender to receive a pass. Players will often use this cut when they pass the ball to the wing and cut in front of their defender towards the basket. Post-players will also try and front cut their defender when they are moving from one side of the key to the other.
Tips: Walk your defender away from the direction you want to go before you make your cut. Also, use your arm to rip the contact made by the defender as you make your way in the direction of the basket; often defenders will try to prevent you from “cutting across their face” which means they want to force you behind them instead of in front of them.
Players use a V-Cut by taking their defender away from the ball and pop out to the perimeter to catch the ball (the cut makes the shape of a V). In a similar way, an offensive player will walk their defender away and make a perpendicular cut out to the perimeter to catch the ball (the cut makes the shape of a L).
Tips: Use your body to shield the defender from shooting the gap and intercepting the pass. Change speeds when making your cut. Give the passer a target where they should throw the ball.
A flash cut is when a player makes a quick flash to an area on the court to catch a pass. Post players often make a flash cut to the elbows to initiate a teams offense. Guards can also make a flash cut to the middle of the floor when the basketball is on the perimeter. Flash cuts are especially effective against zone defense.
Tips: If you can sneak behind the defense before you make your flash cut, it can be difficult for the defenders to find you and stop you from cutting.
When a player has the ball in the low-post, a player at the top of the key can make a dive cut towards the rim looking for a drop-off pass from the post player. This cut can be an effective scoring play because defenders often make the mistake of staring at the ball when it’s thrown into the post.
Tips: Make your dive cut as soon as you see your defender turn their head to focus on the ball.
6. Post Cut
After the ball is thrown into the post, many player will make a post cut. A post cut is designed to either get a quick layup for the cutting guard, or to clear space for the post-player to make a move. If the entry passer doesn’t receive the ball on the post cut, they will be taking their defender away from the post.
Tips: Take your defender one way and cut the other way, also change your speed during the cut. Sometimes if your defender gets to deep in the lane, you can stop and receive a shovel pass from the post player for a jump shot.
The positions on a basketball court are described in two primary ways. You can use numbers (1,2,3,4,5) or titles to describe positions on the court. The following is a basic description of the positions and typical responsibilities of each player (these describe the typical roles of players on the court and do not accurately describe all teams/players)
Point Guard #1
The point guard is the primary ball-handler and usually brings the basketball up the court on offense. Generally speaking the point guard is responsible for distributing the ball to teammates and getting other players into the right spots on the floor. PG’s usually call out the plays on offense and also communicate what the coach wants on defense. The PG usually guards the other teams best ball-handler on defense and is responsible for keeping the other PG from breaking down their teams defense. The best point guards are often referred to as another “coach” on the floor.
Point Guard Skills: Ball handling, court vision, passing, leadership, scoring ability, good decision maker, game-manager
Shooting Guard (Two Guard) #2
Shooting guards work in tandom with the PG but play off the ball more frequently. Shooting guards still need to have strong play-making and ball-handling skills, but will often reap the rewards of the PG’s penetration by knocking down open shots. Shooting guards should be able to knock down open shots, come off pick and rolls, defend the opposing teams guards, and handle the ball.
Shooting Guard Skills: Ball Handling, shot making, defense, driving the basketball, passing
Wing/Small Forward (3 man) #3
Wings are usually taller than shooting guards even though there are a lot of similarities between the 2 and 3 spot. Wings typically handle the basketball the least out of the three guards and are one of the most versatile players on the floor. Wings can guard players taller or shorter than them and should be able to score in a variety of ways. A few of the ways wings can score is by coming off screens, posting up, getting out in transition, and driving the the basket. Versatile wings should be able to shoot, pass, score, defend, and rebound.
Wing Skills: Ball Handling, shooting off screens, driving to the basket, running the floor, versatile defenders, post-up ability
Power/Small Forward (4 Man) #4
The forward is usually the tallest player on the court besides the center and traditionally plays close to the basket. Players at the 4 spot usually work in tandem with the center to guard the opposing teams biggest players. Forwards have the ability to make a mid-range jump shot, play in the post, and score off pick and rolls. Some of the best 4 men can stretch the opposing teams defense by making 3 point shots forcing the other teams biggest players away from the basket. Forwards should be able to run the floor in transition, set good screens, play interior defense, make open jump-shots, and rebound the ball.
Forward Skills: Rebounding, post-defense, make open jump shots, play off pick and rolls, set good screens
Center (5 man) #5
The Center is usually the biggest player on the floor and is the anchor of your teams defense. Since the the 5 man spends most of the game near the basket or close to the key they can see the entire floor. Great Centers communicate to their teammates on defense and help them get in the right spots. Centers should protect the rim on defense by blocking shots, taking charges, and rebounding the ball. On offense they can help their team by setting good screens, scoring in the post, and making good passes out of double teams; the best centers can also make open jump shots from 15-18ft.
Center Skills: Blocking shots, post-defense, rebounding, set good screens, post-play, post-passer, make jump-shots