Basketball has a lot of lingo and terminologies that could be confusing for a casual fan. While many casuals understand the 5 basic basketball positions, they may not grasp what “post position” is. What is post position in basketball?
Before knowing the answer, it’s important to understand what a post-up or a post player is. A basketball post up is an offensive strategy where one of the offensive players positions himself near the lane and tries to use strength and positioning to get a bucket. A post player is an offensive player that likes to post up. Since post offense requires strength and positioning, post players are generally the biggest in the team, perhaps a power forward or a center.
What Does Post Position Mean in Basketball?
The post position in basketball refers to the center or power forward in basketball. These positions are traditionally required to score inside and battle for rebounds. It is a general term for players who like to mix it up inside and can post up offensively and defend the post. However, there are also players from other positions who like to post up and play inside.
With the evolution of modern basketball, the post still remains a key element in any offense. It is easy for teams to run offensive plays from the post position, whether setting up the player himself for a score or for his teammates. It also makes the coaches’ job easier since they can readily indicate where the players need to be when designing set plays.
No one really knows why this position or the area, for that matter, is called “post.” It may have come from an “outpost” as in a war or battle or security personnel handling his “post.” Regardless, the post is a critical position for teams who have dominant centers or power forwards. The modern game has become more outside-in making the low post play less popular among fans.
With the advent of the three-point shot and emphasis on spacing, centers are now often required to stretch the floor and shoot 3s rather than position themselves inside. Still, it is not a coincidence that the last three NBA champions featured at least one player with excellent low post skills. Kawhi Leonard (Raptors, 2019), Anthony Davis (Lakers, 2020), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks, 2021) always come to mind.
What is a Low Post in Basketball?
The post can either be the “low post” or “high post.” The low post is the area just outside the lane near the basket on both sides. This is an ideal scoring position since the offensive player is only several feet away from the basket. If the defense does not hold its own, it will give up an easy two points or a foul.
What is a High Post in Basketball?
The high post is farther out, about 12 to 15 feet from the basket. It is the area outside the free-throw line extended. Unlike the low post, the high post is not exactly an ideal scoring position. However, it can be devastating if you put a big man who can look over defenses and make plays while being a threat to score.
Initiating the offense in the high post is also helpful against zone defenses. When facing a zone defense, a scoring threat and good decision-maker in the high post open everything up. He may either collapse the defense and pass the ball to an open teammate, face up and shoot a jumper, or take it to the basket himself.
How to Become a Better Post Player in Basketball?
Post play has indeed become even rarer in today’s basketball. Nevertheless, an offense that starts near the basket has long been the ideal approach. As previously mentioned, most champions, even recent ones, incorporate a form of low post and high post play in their offensive arsenal.
How do you become good at the post position in basketball and become a better post player? Check out these tips:
- Develop lower body strength, especially if you’re a big guy. Low post play is a high percentage offense, but you can’t get a deep position if you’re not strong enough. Inside positioning is more lower body strength than the upper body, but it won’t hurt if you work hard to develop both.
- Learn how to position yourself. This requires considerable skill in itself. You must learn how to seal, reverse pivot, do V-cuts, etc. The key is to be relentless and persistent.
- Work on your finishing skills with both hands. When you work the post and be a threat to finish with both hands, you unlock 100% of your ability. If you can only finish one way, the defense can easily take that from you and force you to go the other way. This is especially true if you’re more of a finesse player than a power one. Two of the best examples here are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Pau Gasol.
- Always be aware of the distance. Gauging distance is one of the critical skills a post player must have. A post player should know where the defense lets him catch the ball and react accordingly. If he can seal the defense within 10 feet of the basket, a quick spin and drop step is the way to go. A face-up jumper or drive may be the best move if the defense pushes him further away.
- Read the defense. After a couple of possessions on offense, you may now have an idea how they are playing you. Is the defense overplaying? Are they playing you one-on-one? Where is the double team coming from? Whatever the defense does, you must react accordingly and make them pay.
- Take your time. The worst thing that a post player can do is to rush. This will often lead to bad decisions. When you establish a post position in basketball, survey the floor first, read the defense, and attack in ways that you’re comfortable.
- Develop passing and footwork. A scoring threat in the post that can punish defenses with pinpoint passing is the very definition of unstoppable. The best post players have the footwork to beat defenders one-on-one, but if a double or triple-team comes their way, they can also pick teams apart with the pass.
- Do not shy away from contact. If you want to be a good post player, you must embrace contact. Whether you’re establishing position or starting your foray to the basket, defenses will bump you from all angles, so don’t shy away from it.
- Know who you are. There are different types of post players. One is a Shaq-type bully who backs their opponents down and stuffs it to them. The other is a Hakeem-type that uses finesse, footwork, spins, and fakes to throw off opponents. You may be one or the other. With that being said, perfect the style that suits you best and make it your own.
5 Best Basketball Post Moves and Drills
1. Post, Catch, and Finish
The best part about this drill is it’s a ball-handling, coordination, and finishing drill rolled into one. The player starts by doing crossovers, and at some point, the coach (or a partner) throws a bounce pass. The player then catches the ball with one hand and tries to finish with a layup. As you can see, this drill pretty much encompasses it all.
2. Working on Drop Steps
If there is one post move often used by any decent post player, it’s the drop step. It allows you to be in a position to score and put the defender on your hip where he couldn’t do much. This drill is a drop step practice drill. It begins with an entry pass from the wing to the post. The player then catches the ball, does a short crab dribble, drop step, and finish. It sounds simple, but this is one of the best basketball post position drills you can do.
3. The Mikan Drill
The Mikan Drill is proof that the most essential drills need not be complicated. The drill simply involves finishing from one side of the basket to the other using both hands each time. This will help develop ambidexterity and finishing around the rim.
4. Jump Hook to the Lane
This drill is a counter to the drop step. When defenders are waiting on that drop step to the baseline, the counter move is a jump hook to the lane. To mix things up and confuse the defense, you can fake the drop step and then go back to the lane with a jump hook.
5. Up and under
The great Kevin McHale scored over 17,000 points with this move as his bread and butter. And to those who know McHale, it seems like he scored every single time.
9 Best Post Players in the NBA
Post work is a dying art in today’s basketball, but there is no denying that many of the all-time greats are excellent post operators. Here are 7 of them:
1. Hakeem Olajuwon
“The Dream” is the epitome of a complete post player. He can overwhelm you with a combination of fakes, spins, and fadeaways in the lane. What makes Olajuwon unstoppable is his impeccable footwork and a soft touch from midrange and around the basket.
2. Shaquille O’Neal
While Olajuwon was more of a finesse post player, Shaq operates with brute force. That doesn’t make him less skilled, though. O’Neal has a variety of moves up his sleeve, including drop steps, baby hooks, and the occasional up-and-under.
3. Wilt Chamberlain
While Shaq was allowed to maul players underneath, the league took away Wilt’s offensive physicality with specific rules. That didn’t stop Chamberlain from dominating in the post. Instead of backing down opponents with sheer strength, Chamberlain developed the finger roll and a fadeaway to become one of the most dominant figures in all of basketball.
4. Michael Jordan
Who said the post is only for big men? MJ is like a master boxer setting up his best punches. And he repeatedly set up his unstoppable midrange fadeaways via the post position in basketball. Jordan can post his man up from either side of the floor and hit his patented fallaways from either shoulder.
5. Tim Duncan
Call Duncan any derogatory name you like; the fact remains the same: The guy is one of the best post operators in basketball history. Duncan faced Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, and Shaquille O’Neal in his prime and still dominated. What made Duncan’s style unique was his affinity for the fundamentals. If you can stop him from going to the basket, he has that automatic bank shot from 15 feet to soften you up.
6. Chris Webber
While Webber was a devastating post scorer himself, what makes him stand out is his constant ability to make plays for his teammates at the high post. In his prime with the Kings, Webber picked teams apart with his high post passing, which is pretty much unrivaled until today.
7. Pau Gasol
Gasol in his early Laker years was a problem. He knew exactly what he would do and did it with precision. Stop the baseline drive, and he comes back with a right-handed hook. Lean on him, and he’ll make a quick spin move. Put more people on him, and he finds the open man. In his prime as a post player, Pau Gasol was as complete as one could be.
8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
People knew Kareem as the guy who popularized the skyhook, but he had every arsenal in the book when it comes to post play. If anything, that skyhook opened things up for him down low that he really was unstoppable.
9. Kevin McHale
Listen to McHale talk about working the post, and you’d reckon he’s a surgeon breaking down the patient’s anatomy. There is a reason why his Boston teammates rarely received a pass from McHale once he was down there. It’s already an automatic score.
Wrapping Things Up: What is Post Position in Basketball?
Unfortunately, fans today are not treated to constant post play, but once upon a time, the basketball post up was a staple for all teams in the NBA. From Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon, post play often meant success.
However, as the game evolved and everything became more about shooting and spacing, teams have slowly gone away from post play. Nevertheless, it is still a fundamental skill that any player should learn, whether big or small. Players today should do basketball post position drills to sharpen those skills.
Generally, the post position in basketball refers to the centers and power forwards. However, guards and small forwards could also post up. These guys can operate in the low post or high post, depending on their preferences. The low post is nearer the basket, just outside the lane, while the high post is outside the free-throw line extended.
It’s no surprise that fans today may wonder, “What is post position in basketball?” Even though it’s not the focal point of many offenses anymore, it is still worth learning to round out your abilities as a basketball player.