Improve basketball players IQ by teaching AND States of Play and Shot Selection

Neutral States of Play

A neutral point is where neither the defensive team nor the offensive team has an advantage. Both teams are set up in the way that they want to be in.

In the example shown on the right, the offense is in their 4-Out 1-In alignment in the half-court and the defense is in position and in their chosen scheme. Therefore, neither team has an advantage or a disadvantage here.

Often times when we practice or introduce new concepts to our teams, we tend to teach them from these positions.

Disadvantage States of Play

From an offensive standpoint, a disadvantage would mean that we have the basketball and we are out of our chosen position, spacing or alignments while the defense is set and in position.

Examples could be:

  • In transition, it is a 2 on 5 because the defense has sprinted back an recovered but our guys are late coming down the floor and into position.

  • It could be that when the ball is passed into the post, the defense doubles that putting us at an immediate disadvantage position.

  • It may be that there is some confusion on where we need to be on the floor and are not in our correct alignment. Meanwhile the defense has already set up in their positions.

Disadvantages, in this case, refer to the fact that the defense has us in a position that we would prefer not to be in.

Advantage States of Play

If we are in a state of Disadvantage or Neutral, we want to move into a more favourable position so that we can get a high percentage shot. We generally do this through the use of actions or triggers.

An advantage for the offense occurs when the offense has the ball and the defense is not in their chosen position. There are two types of advantage states that the offense can be in.

Small advantages occur when the defense is a step behind.

  • This could be that the defense switch the hand-off and for a brief moment on the switch, the defensive player is a step behind their chosen position.

  • It could be that the defender stepped into help and is now in a closeout situation.

  • It could also be that the offense has numbers in transition, but no clear shot.

In the example above, the ball is on the right slot and the defense is slightly out of position. The offense drives the double gap on the left, which puts pressure on the secondary defenders to stop the drive. This is a small advantage. Small advantages are situations where the offense has an advantage but not a high percentage shot available.

A big advantage state is where the offense has a high percentage shot available. High percentage shots are different for different teams and players, however they have the following in common. They are:

  • In Range;
  • Open
  • On Balance

The player drives to the rim and pulls the defender in so deep forcing a long closeout, and a shooter is able to get a 1-2 second count on the shot.

We generally teach our players to give up good shots for great shots, which requires time spent talking about shot selection, what constitutes a good shot and what is a great shot.

This process enhances our players IQ and makes them understand the game better.

In developing our AND States, it is always important to be in the correct spacing and positioning. If our offensive players are close enough that one defender can guard two, it is difficult for us to stretch the defense out and get big advantages, so spacing always comes first.

Once we have the correct spacing, we use a series of actions within our offense to disorganise the defense and put the defense in situations where they are constantly recovering.

We generally do not run set plays, instead, we employ actions (motion screen away) and entries (motion dribble hand-off) to get the defense moving before falling into our principles (dribble penetration).

We want our players comfortable with hunting for big advantages by keeping the defense off balance as we find, use and create the next small advantage. When we are able to put multiple small advantages together and the ball keeps moving, we are able to find a big advantage shot (highest percentage shot available).

As such, we do not like it when a player catches and holds on to the ball or a player decides that he wants to use several jab steps or dribble moves. This isn’t an ideal situation, because, from a defensive standpoint, it allows the defense to recover and load to the ball, establishing a neutral state.

To recap – In moving from a disadvantaged state to an advantageous state, we want to emphasise the following process.


The question then becomes, how do we create these situations in practice so that our players begin to understand the different sequences, and how to move from one state to another seamlessly?

We dive into the process behind this in our BIG3 Post.

Until Next Time

Coach Nabil Murad

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