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Does the Triple-Threat Position Really Work?

  • Author:
    By Vic Pruden
  • Date:
    Jun 27, 2011

Traditionally, in front-court play, coaches have taught perimeter players to assume the triple-threat position immediately after receiving a pass. From this position, they can shoot, pass, or drive.

Teaching players that they must assume this set position results in dead time: while a player is moving into this set position and is in it, s/he literally stops playing. This disrupts the flow of play.

As players receive a pass, they should immediately initiate a play option. For example, in my system of play in the front court, the first sequenced play option for a forward who receives a pass is to relay it to the player in the post position. Consequently, each time a forward receives a pass, s/he immediately initiates a pass to the post. Knowing this, the player in the post position should seal her/his defender at the moment the player with the ball is ready to pass. Whether or not the forward executes the pass depends on a number of variables.

For example, when the player guarding the forward with the ball raises her/his arms and moves toward the baseline to block the passing lane to the post, s/he opens up the driving lane into the middle. As a result, the player with the ball drives the middle.

The disruption to the flow of play which results from going into set position also affects the timing of team play. For example, there is no point in a player calling for the ball when a teammate is moving into set position.

When should a player call for the ball? When s/he has priority and when the player with the ball is ready to pass. For example, in my system, a player in the weak-side guard position who receives a reverse pass from the strong-side guard has priority. Consequently, as soon as that player receives a pass, s/he can immediately shoot or drive. Knowing this, the post pinches, ready to rebound. The guard not immediately shooting or driving transfers priority to the post, who can now work to get open in the lane.

Finally, the player receiving a pass can exercise initiative. For example, if the defender is out of position or drops to help on the post as the forward receives the pass, s/he can immediately shoot or take it to the hoop.

The key point is that players should be playing all the time, before they receive the pass and immediately after. There should be no dead time. That is what slows the game. It also makes it easier for opponents to play defense.

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