How to Post Up in Basketball: 5 Tips

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Basketball’s evolution has come at the expense of interior scoring, but inside play is one of the most efficient in the sport. Posting up is the foundation of interior play, and it also does not help that this skill has become a rarity nowadays. Skills coaches do not put teaching low post moves at the top of the to-do list; if you want to be a complete scorer, it’s a must-learn. If you want to master how to post up in basketball, tips, and tricks, what you are about to read is precisely what you need.

What Does it Mean to Post Up in BasketballWhat Does it Mean to Post Up in Basketball?

Posting up is a type of offensive move in basketball. This is when an offensive player moves down towards the hoop or into the lower section of the paint, positions themselves with their back to the basket, and waits for a pass from a teammate.

The point is to get near the basket, score on an easy basket, and put pressure on the defense. If there is an excellent low post player on the team, his teammates could dump the ball to him and let him do the work. From there, he could score, get fouled, or double-teamed and create for teammates. 

Traditionally, it’s the role of centers and forwards to establish inside positions and take advantage of their size down low. However, guards may also post up, and some of the best scoring guards, like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Gary Payton, have a deep bag of post-up tricks. It’s the same concept– use the size and wile to their advantage and try to put pressure on the defense.

See, this era of “layups and three-pointers” may be entertaining for this generation, but posting up used to be the play of plays an era or two ago. Nothing made fans feel alive as much as seeing two big bodies collide in the paint area. 

When Should You Post Up in BasketballWhen Should You Post Up in Basketball?

Now that the basketball post up meaning is out of the way, it’s time to know when to post up or establish post position. The answer is it depends on the matchups and what the team tries to do. Still, you can always incorporate high, and low post plays in your offensive strategy.

For example, if a team has an excellent passing big man, the coach can put him in high post sets where he can find his teammates cutting to the basket or spotting up for an open shot. Rick Adelman’s early-2000s Sacramento Kings had Vlade Divac and Chris Webber, and they were feasting on the offensive end with the two big guys passing to everybody.

Of course, if we’re talking about posting up, Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal was an unstoppable force inside. He could beat double and triple-teams and finish, plus he’s an underrated passer out of these defenses. If you have someone as capable as Shaq, it would be foolish not to let the offense through him.

The point is you go to the post-up if it’s an advantage. If you have a smaller guy defending a bigger guy on your team, it’s not a bad idea to tell him to establish a post position and try to finish. As mentioned, the post-up is not the first order on the menu nowadays, but it’s a worthy strategy to try every so often.

How Do You Post Up in Basketball_ 5 WaysHow Do You Post Up in Basketball? 5 Ways

A post-up play is relatively easy to pin down, that is, if you have a reliable entry passer (possibly your point guard) and a big man that knows how to work down low. If you have both, then this is how to post up:

1. Find your position above the low block.

You can always post your big man from the high post, which is at the elbow, free-throw line extended. However, if the big man is more than capable of working and scoring down low, the low block is the best area to do that.

The low block is the area in the paint nearest the basket. It’s best to position outside the low block and work your way inside, so the offensive player doesn’t get called for a three-second violation. Some youth-level leagues do not call three-second violations, so the players can post up as near the basket as they can.

2. Slide into position as you face the entry pass.

After wrestling for the position in the low block, you should slide in front of the defender and face the entry passer. The defender could try and poke away the pass, so you should protect the ball using your hips or even an extended arm. Once you’re in position, put your hands up, so the entry passer sees a target. This is where chemistry and eye contact is essential; a late pass gives the defender time to recover.

3. Feel the defense with your arms and hips.

Once you get the ball, you don’t need to work right away. For a split-second, you can judge how the defender is playing you by feeling them with your hips and arms. If they’re playing you not to go to the middle, you can work the baseline and vice versa. When you see another defender getting ready to double-team, you can pass to an open teammate and let the defense react.

4. Make your move.

Whatever the defense does, you must make your move based on your read. If the defense lets you go one-on-one, be aggressive, use an array of moves to finish, and fish for a foul. Low-post defenses are usually aggressive, and there is a lot of contact, so you can always take advantage of that.

5. Finish strong.

You’ll often get the benefit of the doubt if you finish strong amidst the contact. If you’re a more advanced player, you can always incorporate high-level moves like drop steps, up-and-unders, jump hooks, turn-around jumpers, and reverse layups. The point is to finish whatever the defense gives you.

5 Post Up Drills to Improve Your Post Play in Basketball5 Post Up Drills to Improve Your Post Play in Basketball

As previously mentioned, you need to have an array of moves if you want to pull off a low-post play successfully. Being a one-trick pony is easy to stop, and you don’t want to give the defense a steady diet of anything. Here are some post up basketball drills to take your low post game to the next level. 

1. Mikan Drill

The Mikan layup drill is for everybody who would like to develop a left-hand and right-hand finish near the basket. 

The drill is done like this:

  • Make a layup with your right hand under the basket.
  • Catch the ball as it goes through the net, and make a layup with your left hand.
  • Continue this motion by alternating hands.

The Mikan Drill is one of the simplest but most important drills you can do to develop touch around the rim. Knowing how to finish with both hands is an incredible skill to have when posting up.

2. Drop Step Drill

The drop step is one of the power moves that must be in a post player’s arsenal. It is simple and yet really effective. As shown in the video above, the drill mainly involved three things:

  • Picking the ball up and holding it firmly.
  • Pushing off the lead foot and dribbling on the back foot.
  • Find a nice angle for the finish.

The drop step is a nice counter-move for anyone being defended aggressively on the post. If the defender overplays you going to the middle, you can do the drop step, execute the power dribble, and finish.

3. Fake Drop Step and Jump Hook Drill

The fake drop step and jump hook drill start similar to drill #2, but it ends up as a jump hook instead of a high, angled finish. The idea is to sell the drop step to the baseline, let the defender react, and counter with a nice little jump hook in the lane.

4. Up and Under Drill

The up-and-under is a low post move consisting of two basic parts: the fake (up) and the step-through (under). The action is aptly described above by WNBA legend Katie Smith, but if you want more inspiration, you can always watch the highlights of 80s Celtics great Kevin McHale. The up-and-under is McHale’s bread and butter, and he seemingly scored at will every time. 

5. Short Corner Four-Shot Drill

No matter how good of a post player you are, you will always encounter someone who will make your life extra hard. The short corner four-shot drill is a post player workout that may be the answer to your predicament.

The “four shots” referred to here are the short corner jump shot, the duck-in post move, the wing jump shot, and the elbow jump shot. The jump shots here are the counter if the defender is too big, and you just can’t beat him into a position. If he defends you outside, you can make the duck-in move to take advantage of his (presumably) slower feet in the perimeter.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Post Up in Basketball: 5 Tips and Tricks

The supposed revolution of basketball has effectively taken away most of the post game. But truth be told, the post play is still one of the most efficient and effective in basketball. Getting inside position closer to the basket is a quality look and a high-percentage shot. Plus, the offensive team puts pressure on the defense by taking the ball inside.

If you want to take your game to the next level, it pays if you know how to take advantage inside. The information highlighted in this article helps you with how to post up in basketball, tips, and tricks. It starts with a simple “Mikan Drill” drill to counter moves such as the drop step and short corner jump shots. One way or another, the old post game must never die and shall continue to live.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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