Fronting The Post

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Name of blog
Blog author Bob Walsh
Blog post date 2013/04/26
Blog URL
Post Topic Post Defense Discussion

It's good offense to throw the ball inside. Almost every coach I know wants to get the ball inside more. Coaches talk a lot about paint touches. Getting to the rim. Even teams that shoot a lot of 3's and are guard dominant like to get the ball inside and get inside-out looks. Good post players are hard to find and are valuable at every level. I've always felt teams were harder to guard when they got the ball inside consistently. Good things happen when the ball goes inside. You are in better position to score. You get the defense in foul trouble. The rest of the defense tends to turn and look at the ball, creating open looks on the perimeter or with cuts to the basket. When a big guy catches it down low, usually the offense has the advantage.

All that being said it makes sense to keep the ball out of the post. But I'm surprised at the lack of commitment from many coaches to front the post. You would think they'd want to do anything they can to keep the ball out of their, but that's often not the case.

I'm a big believer in fronting the post. I've always felt like if we let the offense throw the ball where they want to throw it, they are going to score. But a lot of coaches are indecisive on the post, worried about giving up easy baskets on lobs to the rim. So their kids "three-quarter" the post or try and force the post player off the block - not that this makes much of a difference. A good post player who catches the ball is always just one strong dribble away from getting where he wants to go. And when you three-quarter a player there is too much grey area - is it OK for him to catch it? How far out is far enough? It leads to indecision, which can hurt your teams confidence.

One main reason why coaches don't front the post is because it is decisive. There is no grey area. And that leaves coaches with no out when it doesn't work - when the other team throws it inside and scores. Sometimes when you do a great job fronting the post they can still catch a lob and score. It happens. And then the coach doesn't really have anyone to yell at. A second reason is because fronting the post requires a defensive system - you always have to have helpside. You have to know who is going to help on the lob, and they always have to be there. And when they aren't there, you look bad because you give up a lay-up. And now your post defender is upset because he looked bad, so now he's not going to commit to getting around in the post anymore. Fronting the post is something everyone has to commit to - especially the head coach, and a lot of coaches don't have a defined defensive system. Often it's personnel based and result-oriented - if they didn't score, we did a good job. So the kid guarding a great shooter is never going to help on the lob, and that's going to leave holes in the defense. Fronting the post requires definition for all 5 players on the floor, and many coaches don't have systems that do that.

I've heard coaches say they don't want to front because it leaves them in bad rebounding position, but I've never found that to be true. In 8 years I don't ever remember giving up a rebound and thinking "that was because we were in front in the post." When the ball goes to the rim it's a physical battle. It's impossible to dictate where the bodies will be when a shot goes up. Very rarely is everyone in their original, shell positions. The team that wins the physical battle usually comes out with the rebounding edge. Fronting the post has no negative affect on your teams ability to rebound.

Fronting the post makes it hard for your opponent to get the ball inside. It makes their post players really work. It makes them look for a second option, like a high-low look, that takes an extra pass. It also requires a lob over the top which is usually a tough pass to make, especially against pressure. And when your helpside gets tight on the post when the lob is thrown in, you'll be amazed how often even good post players can't finish or turn the ball over. Fronting the post requires the offense to work harder to get the ball where they want to, something that makes the defense a lot better.

There are great benefits to fronting the post - all of the time, on every post player. I'm surprised so few people commit to doing it.