Press Break Offense Guide

Posted by Coach Chris on 22nd Oct 2018

Press Break Offense

A big test for any team is the ability to break a full court or half court press. There are a number of presses a defense can throw at you, but the key to breaking every single one of them comes down to execution of fundamentals and making game time decisions.

Your team must have a solid set of fundamentals such as passing, catching, and dribbling. If you’re team can do these actions well then you’re already a step ahead of the defense. The other area you need to focus on is developing your team to make game time decisions such as knowing when to use pass fakes and taking care of the ball to not commit silly turnovers.

In this article, we’re going to dive into Press Break Offenses. We’ll discuss the keys to a winning press break along with some points of how a press break can fail. This article will show you a universal Press Break but will also have plenty of Press Break tips, Press Break plays, and Press Break drills for you to use your team.

By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll know exactly what your team needs to work on to develop a successful Press Break.

Keys to a Winning Press Break Offense

  • Force Tempo. The defense will try to control the tempo of the game, but the offense has just as much control over the tempo as the defense does. What tempo does your team want to play at? Once you know the tempo, learn how to integrate this into your Press Break strategy.
  • Develop Attitude. A winning Press Break has players that are ready for the challenge. They have practice their game place and know exactly what to do to beat the defense so there’s a confidence instilled in them. They want to be pressed by the defense - just so they can beat it. It’s hard to want to press a team that welcomes it.
  • Practice Patience. One of the quickest ways to fail at breaking a press is to rush your decisions. Instead you want to have everything under control and not hurry to make a play. Each player has to be ready to execute and keep themselves under control under the pressure. If your team melts under pressure then you need to devote more time in practice to breaking press defenses.
  • Know the Rules. Make sure your team is familiar with all the rules that apply to press break situations. Every single player needs to know every single violation that could penalize your team. They also need to know the rules that may get you out of a tight spot if the defense has you cornered such as running the baseline on an inbounds situation or the inbounder passing to a teammate out of bounds; and they have to know in what scenarios these can be used. Not knowing the rules is a poor reason to lose a possession during a game.
  • Make the Defense Pay. The biggest key to a winning Press Break is simply executing your game strategy and scoring. If you can make the defense pay by dismantling their pressure and scoring each time down the court then they’re going to think twice about pressing. Don’t make it easy for them by not be ready for it, but rather practice going against a press defense and you’ll be ready for anything a defense can throw at you. Preparation is the way to make the defense pay!

Keys to a Failing Press Break Offense

  • Take you out of your game plan. The whole point of a press defense is to throw something at your team it hasn’t seen before and neutralize your offensive strengths. This is exactly why preparation is to crucial because your team has to know what to do in order to exploit the press and score. If you’re not preparing for a press defense then you should start now otherwise your team will struggle and collapse under pressure.
  • Rushed shot selection. To beat any press defense you have to emphasize good shot selection and work hard to get the best shot opportunity. You won’t be successful on offense (and you’ll be playing right into the defense’s hands) if you’re rushing or forcing shots. After having the patience to break the press defense, be sure to use the same patience with your shot selection. You don’t want your team to beat a tough defense just to take a poor and rushed shot.
  • More Turnover Possibilities. A big no-no for any offense is turning the ball over and when it comes to attacking a pressing defense the likelihood of turnovers seems to increase. You need your team to be composed and confident along with patient while they’re trying to break the defense. If you can do these three things then your team should easily be able to take care of the ball. Minimal turnovers is a must going against any pressure defense.

Who should use the Press Break Offense?

Every team can benefit from having a Press Break Offense ready to go when your opponent switches things up on the defensive end. Preparing your press breaking game plan is an important part of the game, but one of the least practiced. A Press Break Offense is built for a smart, patient team that can work together and utilize passing the ball to find the gaps in the pressing defense.

I highly recommend a Press Break Offense for a team who knows what offensive tactics to use and execute the game plan accordingly for their team. If each player can understand what to do in the press break then there’s going to be an opportunity to score on every offensive trip down the court.

A team successful with a Press Break Offense needs fundamentally sound players, especially when it comes to passing, catching, and dribbling the ball Players who know how to use skip passes and ball fakes are going do well in this offense. If your team also has players who can take care of the ball and read the defense to stay a step ahead then you will be able to beat any press defense.

Basic Concepts of a Press Break Offense

Coach Chris shows you how to beat a full court press every time by talking about the concept of breaking the press. Every press break will end up looking like this if done correctly. Doesn't matter if it's a half court trap or a full court press. The alignment Coach Chris talks about is how you break it.


The Universal Press Break Offense

Does your team have a go-to Press Break Offense? If you don’t already have a press break strategy then consider using Coach Will Rey’s press breaker. It’s a universal system that can be used to attack any press.

In Rey’s DVD, Universal System of Attacking Presses, he teaches you a system that uses three near outlets, one deep threat, and a trailer.

Essentially, his universal attack is designed to allow the ball handler to make only one quick decision: Am I being double teamed (trapped!) or Am I being guarded by a single defender? Based on this decision, the press attack is initiated.

This Press Offense is a great option because it’s very easy to learn because players only have 2 reads: if there is a trap, you do this and if there’s no trap coming, you do that.

Let’s break it down…

Starting Alignment

Player Positions - this press starts in a 1-3-1 format

  • 1 (point guard) is on ball side low block
  • 2 is on ball side free throw line extended
  • 3 is on opposite side free throw line extended
  • 4 is your inbounder
  • 5 is at other end of the court in weak side short corner

Basic Actions and Reads

Option 1

  • 2 cuts back to the ball and receives the inbounds pass
  • 2 catches and faces up the court then looks deep to see if 5 is open
  • 2 is also checking if the defense is trapping or not
  • As 2 is surveying the court, 1 is diagonal cutting ahead on ball sideline
  • And 3 is diagonal cutting to the middle
  • 4 steps in and is the trailer (safety)
  • 2 passes to 3 open in the middle
  • As this happens, 1 cuts to the middle ahead of 3
  • 3 passes to 1 and after passing fills the left lane
  • 2 runs to fill the right lane

Option 2

  • 2 cuts back to the ball and receives the inbounds pass, checks for traps, and faces up to see there are no open looks up the floor
  • No one is open so 2 passes back to 4
  • When 4 catches the ball, 3 cuts back to opposite side for reverse pass
  • 1 diagonal cuts to the middle
  • When ball is reversed to 3, 1 cuts to fill ahead on ball sideline
  • 2 then diagonal cuts to fill the middle
  • After 4 passes - 1 and 2 make their cuts - then 4 fill opposite side and fills lane
  • 3 has options to advance ball by passing to 1 up the sideline or 2 in the middle

No Trap Situation

  • Players should still make the same cuts
  • Yell CLEAR to communicate to teammates there’s no traps
  • 2 dribbles to the middle
  • 3 fills the left wing and 1 fills the right wing
  • 4 sprints up the sideline and fills short corner on right side
  • All players keep an eye on the ball in case a delayed trap happens

Teaching Points

  • At the start, 2 does not need to cut all the way to the baseline. You to receive the ball as far up the floor as possible.
  • Read if you are being trapped or not on the first pass
  • You’re essentially making the same cuts as your advance the ball
  • Always have 3 close pass options, 1 deep pass threat, and 1 safety pass option
  • Make defense play you sideline-to-sideline and baseline-to-baseline
  • All players need to keep an eye back in case a trap occurs after first pass

Need Another Press Break Offense?

Check out the 1-4 Press Break to destroy a man to man press!

In this video, Coach Chris breaks down the 1-4 Basketball Press Break so that you can stop getting trapped on the inbounds pass. If you are facing a Diamond or 1-2-1-1 Press Defense where you get trapped in the corners or have a hard time getting the ball inbounds the 1-4 Across Press Break is a great press break to use.


Press Break Offense Plays

UCLA - Wooden Press Break

Frame 1

  • The starting alignment is 1,2,5 in a vertical stack on the ball side. 4 is throwing the ball in and 3 is at center court. Primary options are 1 & 5.

Frame 2

  • 1 reads their defender, if defense is playing inside,1 fakes inside and cuts to ball side corner looking for the ball.
  • 2 reads 1 and cuts the in opposite direction. 2 needs to time cut to give 4 plenty of time to give 1 a good look.
  • After 4 looks at 2, 5 steps toward the basket.
  • If nothing is open, 3 comes back to ball.

Frame 3

  • 1 receives the pass and looks down the court then fakes a pass to 3.
  • 1 passes to 2 as 5 moves over to the weak side and sets a back screen for 4 coming in bounds.
  • 5 remains a trailer as the emergency outlet and to balance the floor. Goal is to always have a two-guard front.

Frame 4

  • 2 has four options with the ball:
    • Pass to the 3 or back to 5. In this case 2 hits 3 and stays back with 5 .
    • 1 and the 4 are sprinting down the sideline.
    • 3 can pass to 1 or 4 to break the pressure.
    • 4 or 1 can always come back to the ball if needed.

X Press Break

Frame 1

  • The starting alignment is 2 ball side in top wing area, 1 is a center court, and 4 is at the top of the key. 3 is the inbounder and 5 is all the way back.
  • 2 cuts to the opposite side of the inbounder.
  • 4 sets a back screen for 1 who curls around.
  • After setting the screen, 4 dives to the ball inbound side.
  • Primary entry is passing to 1 who has momentum going up court and can push ball to the middle of the court.

Cuba Press Break

Frame 1

  • The starting alignment is your best passer as the inbounder. In this example that will be 1. The rest of your team is lined up in a horizontal line to the ball side of the free throw line.
  • 5 cuts hard to the weak side corner
  • 2 runs hard down the court looking for a home run pass from the inbounder
  • 3 comes to the ball
  • 4 cuts back to the weak side hash mark

Frame 2

  • 1st option: 2 for a home run score
  • 2nd option: 5 in the weak corner who can pass forward to an open 4 followed by looking ahead to see if 2 is open

Press Break Offense Drills

Being a strong press break team comes from developing and preparing your players for these type of pressure situation.

You spend time developing their fundamentals such passing, pivoting, and using ball fakes.

Equally, you spend time solely preparing for pressure by putting your team against press defense and different pressure situation.

These type of situation works on patience, decision making, teamwork and game understanding.

Just because you put players in a press break formation doesn’t mean they will be able to do it. You need to spend time in practice working with them passing under pressure and traps.

The best drill to use to prepare for Press Defense is a full-court pressure progression.

Starting with your players playing 1-on-1 (Drill #1) and working up to 5-on-5 (Drill #2).

Switch it up by using more defenders than normal or taking away dribbles.

In Drill #2, you'll see the players going 2 on 3 which means 2 offense player against 3 defense player and they are not allowed to dribble.

By doing this you make your team really work to beat the press defense.

Drill #1: 1-on-1

Drill #2: 3-on-2

Half-Court Press Break Offense

Pressing and traps can happen in the half court as well. It’s always a good idea to have your team prepared for this type of defensive attack.

Here is a solid Half-Court Press Break courtesy of Coach Rey. Check it out!

If your opponent traps in the half court…trap occurs on ball handler with trapper coming from the wing

  • Player being guarded by the trapper goes to the middle
  • Post player on trapped side moves up and fills wing spot that has been vacated

If your opponent traps in the half court...trap occurs on first pass to wing with trapper coming from the top

  • Player being guarded by the trapper moves to ball side between trap and half court line
  • Opposite wing flashes to middle of the court near free throw line
  • Post player on trapped side moves to corner

If your team can execute these basic actions in a half court trap situation then you should be able to bust the defense with these passing options!


Tips for the Press Break Offense

Any press break starts with being able to inbound the basketball. For a successful press break, you want to have a better than average inbounds passer to get the ball inbounds.

It’s not always as easy as it seems trying to get the ball inbounds against a pressure defense. Your inbounder needs to be a strong decision maker with great technique. If your team has this type of inbounder then you’ll be able to limit unnecessary mistakes that could cost your team.

Here are some passing tips for the Inbound Passer:

  1. Step out of bounds only after your teammates are set up and ready.
  2. Clear the backboard to inbounds the ball.
  3. Position yourself deeper than baseline to give yourself space.
  4. Read the defense and know where to pass before receiving the ball.
  5. Avoid telegraphing a pass by not staring at the pass you want to make.
  6. Know your progression of reads - Option 1, Option 2, Option 3.
  7. If you make a pass lead a receiver to an open spot.
  8. Do not pass over the inbound defender.
  9. If defense switches on a screen, look for the screener.
  10. Keep a time count in your head.
  11. Pass to the safety on the 4 count.

Learn More

The Universal Press Break Offense has the potential to be unstoppable for your team against any press defense. We have given you the foundation to implement this into your game plan, but there’s always more to learn.

The best learning tool on the market is the instructional DVD, Universal System of Attacking Presses, from Coach Will Rey. He uses on-court demonstrations to teach his system and thoroughly covers all aspects and key factors to handling pressure.

No matter what type of press you face by renting our basketball press break DVDs you'll learn the best way to break it and easily score vs. the press. You'll get to the point where you hope teams press you so you can score easy baskets.

Rent from our selection of basketball press break videos from top coaches today by going to HoopsKing.com.