The Third Key to Scoring: Reading the Defense

The Third Key to Scoring

With the Born to Score Holiday Hoops Basketball Clinic right around the corner on December 28th in Edison, NJ I am writing a series of blog posts on the five keys to scoring that will be covered at the clinic:

  1. Proper Jump Shooting Technique
  2. Getting open using a variety of cuts
  3. Reading the defense and attacking it based on your reads
  4. Creating space out of the triple threat or off the dribble
  5. Finishing at the rim and away from it with a variety of finishing moves

The first week, we explained how important it is for a basketball player to be able to shoot the basketball and the proper shooting technique based on the Pro Shot System. In the second installment, we covered how players, even if they can shoot, need to be able to get open in in order to get their shot off. Getting open requires basketball players to move without the basketball.  This week, we will focus on the third key to scoring the basketball, reading the defense.

Reading the Defense Leads to Open Shots

Reading the defense is something that great players do at all times on the basketball court.  It is a key component to what makes them great because it makes them a more efficient player.  This efficiency enables them to be a better scorer because, ultimately, they are not taking bad, and contested shots. They are taking open shots and open shots tend to go in more often, just ask the Golden State Warriors. Why are they getting more open shots? It’s really quite simple, great players are watching how their defender is guarding them individually and how the rest of the defenders are guarding them as a team. Knowledge of this will allow you to make a move or a counter move based on how the defense is playing. If executed correctly, these moves will leave you more open to make more shots.

Reading and Reacting to the Sideline Ball Screen

As I mentioned last week in my post about moving without the basketball, there are different cuts based on how you read the defense.  In the last post I discussed a narrow pin down and how you should cut based on the way the defense is playing you. This week, to mix it up, let’s take a look at a sideline ball screen and the reads that players may have based on how the defense plays that. For the player with the ball coming off the screen, they have any number of options to score coming off the screen using either their floater, a pull-up jump or a 3 pointer depending on how high the off the ball helps shows. Beyond his own scoring options the ball handler has the option to pass to the screener who would roll if both defenders involved in the screen help high and he has a clear path to the basket or pop if the defenders protect the basket by going low on the screen. The ball handler can also hit the duck in from the opposite post if his man helps off of him as well as the weakside shooter who should elevate up to the open window (the place on the court that offers a clear passing line from the driver to the shooter.

These are the reads for a sideline ball screen other ball screens include a step up ball screen on the wing, a high ball screen, a flat ball screen, a the horns ball screen, all of which has its own set of reads for the ball handler and players off the ball.

Ultimately, being able to read the defense and cut or attack the defense based on those reads will leave you with much more open shots and make you a much more efficient scorer.

Three keys to reading the defense:

  1. Study the game by watching, reading, and playing. This will build your basketball IQ and give you a greater understanding of how teams are defending you and how you should react.
  2. Watch you defender and the next two defenders initially. Repeat as the defense breaks down.
  3. Read the defense while you are on the move. You may be able to counter before you catch the ball or as soon as  you do.

The Born to Score Holiday Hoops Clinic 

Are you interested in learning how to become a better jump shooter and more on the Pro Shot System? If so, we will be spending at least ⅓ of our three hour Born to Score Clinic on teaching the Pro Shot System.  This is your opportunity to learn to shoot like the pros. Register today at

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