Proper Spacing in Basketball


Let’s make this simple. NEVER be in a situation where one defender can guard two players. That’s easy enough. How many times have you seen a team trying to run an offense and you see a player 5 feet from another guy on his team?  One defender can guard two players. The goal is to be in the opposite situation. We want two defenders to guard or be forced to guard one offensive player. This is done when proper spacing is created.

Let’s look at some of the basics of understanding spacing.

Ball to Man Relationship
This applies to defense as well but is just as important on offense. If a player has the ball make sure that you are enough of a distance away that if your man were to help he would have to make an effort.

Moving Without the Ball
If your teammate starts to dribble toward you, unless it is part of the offense, move out of the way. Keep the spacing correct. Never take your man to where the ball because this causes unsuspected problems and leads to turnovers. Make your defender make a choice, but never lead him into a trap. MOVE.

Don’t Stand Still
By moving around, space is created and holes open up. Defenses can rest when you are resting and that shouldn’t be happening ever. Doing something is better than nothing.

Understand the Play
Many times a play is called that requires getting the ball inside. You decide to move without the ball and cut through the key. This leads your defender right to the action. Always remember the key to offense is to get the best shot possible and play that way. Force the defense to make choices. If the defense decides to double team the ball then someone will be open for a good shot. If the spacing isn’t correct the double team will be very effective.

Court Awareness
Understand where you are on the floor. Why would someone guard you away from the basket where you are positioned for a low percentage shot? This relates to spacing. You must be in a space where you can score or be a threat. If you are standing at half court, your defender will go help out the teammates. Don’t be too close, but don’t be too far away either. Be a threat so that your spacing matters.

I hope this helps you understand how to create better spacing for you and your teammates. Don’t be afraid to lead your team and direct them in this regard. It isn’t uncommon at all to remind your players to maintain spacing so the offense can be as effective as it needs to be.


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