Beat the Trap
Categories: Ballhandling / Dribbling  Press Breaker  
Ages: All Ages  Youth  Middle School  High School+  

Purpose of the Drill:

Teach players how to use the dribble to beat a trap. (For more drills information about beating a press, you can reference this guide about breaking pressure.)


  • In this drill you have one offensive player against two defensive players.
  • A coach or player will pass the ball to Player 1.
  • The defensive players will work to contain and trap Player 1.
  • Player 1 will use their dribble to try and beat the 2 defensive players. Player 1 has the entire court to work with.
  • Player 1 should try to isolate one of the defenders instead of trying to beat them both. A good fake and change of direction should allow the player to attack the outside foot of one of the defenders. They'll need to make a strong and aggressive move down the court.
  • The back up dribble is probably the most effective way to get space so you can size up your defender, get them on their heals, and attack.

Points of Emphasis:

  • Catch and face the basket in low and strong triple threat position.
  • Keep head up when dribbling.
  • Attack one defender.
  • Use back up dribble to create space.
  • Avoid the spin dribble because the spin causes you to lose sight of the defense and gives them a chance to close the trap and tip the ball.
  • Aggressively attack the outside foot of one of the defenders. Try to avoid splitting the defense because that allows the defense to tip from behind.

jssocials alternate:


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gareth says:
8/23/2010 at 3:48:40 AM

ive tried this drill and it works it helps plers to work on their alertness when annticipating the pass and also to put presure on the receiver


mbusi derrick says:
4/25/2012 at 9:57:41 AM

hi i like these drills here we dont press till may be a team is down and in the last quarter when do u recommend to press


mbusi derrick says:
4/25/2012 at 9:58:31 AM

wen do u recommend a press


Ken says:
4/25/2012 at 1:52:26 PM

mbusi -

I don't recommend pressing with youth players... maybe at the 7-8th grade level would be ok.

Now, if you are working with that age group or older... and if its me, I would press after made free throws or baskets... coming out of a time out or a dead ball situation.

I would say that the more you are down the earlier I would press..... I have found that a good half court trap can throw a team off its game also... same rules as above. JMO


Cody Valenzuela says:
10/30/2014 at 3:52:14 PM

I coach 4th and 5th grade basketball and personally I use a pressure defense. The reason behind it is I like to work on my players agility and stamina. It's very tiring but if they can prosecute it at an early age then they are going to be golden when they are in middle school and high school. I always put my better players forward and my "less stronger" players at half court and under the basket that way they are still getting the full affect but the learn to step in front of the defense which is personally the most important defense key to teach youth.


Jeff Haefner says:
10/31/2014 at 5:59:38 AM

Cody - I agree that pressure can defense can be good for agility when taught properly.

However, I have coached more than one high school team that had horrible defensive habits because of all the pressing they did as youth players. What worked as a youth player does NOT work in high school. And they had a lot of trouble breaking those bad habits they learned in youth basketball. Those kids would have been SO MUCH better off if the coach taught they really good half court man to man defense. Or even 3/4 court man to man.... instead of the full court zone presses and trapping.

Also, I would recommend putting your slower players up front at times because they also need to develop agility and foot coordination. They need challenged. Sure you might get beat more often at the youth level but it's also important to develop these kids to have bright futures. Putting those big kids under the basket and/or at half court in back is not good for their development.

Read this article for more thoughts on defense and pressing at the youth level. I think you'll find it interesting.


Ken Sartini says:
10/31/2014 at 9:50:54 AM

Jeff -

Your points are well taken ....

I think that you know my opinion about pressing at those ages. Half court m2m defense (pressure) will teach your kids how to play the game and get them ready to play at the next level.

Your goal should be to get them ready to play at the high school level JMO


Alex says:
10/8/2015 at 6:55:39 PM

Hello! I coach U12 boys and in our league its mandatory to use full court man to man pressure.In practice I work with them defending the ball,the man without the ball,defending the dribble,but in games we have to always play pressure.The offense is usually a long pass and 10 kids run to get it :) I think your drills for breaking the press are very useful,so my question would be why doyou thing the pressure influences the kids in developing bad defense habits?
Thank you!

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
10/8/2015 at 7:24:16 PM

Alex - With just about anything, if you have really good coaching, pressing is fine. However 90% or more of the youth coaches out there either don't have the discipline or know how to make sure players are pressing in a fundamentally sound way.

When coaching high school 9th ad 10th grade boys, I get a lot of kids that rely on the press when they are young. It works great when they are young. They often employ situationally incorrect tactics that simply take advantage of kids that aren't strong enough or skilled enough to handle full court pressure.

In high school or up, you need to be able to execute in the half court. You can't rely on "running the fast break" and creating turnovers all the time.

I get kids that are terrible in running half court because they pressed and ran their entire youth career. They also look to gamble, have bad on ball technique, and have horrible half court defense habits.

The press stuff that works at the youth level does not work in high school when kids get stronger and more skilled. So bad habits develop.

I think pressure is good. Young players need to learn how to handle pressure. We play full court 1v1 in practice almost every day to develop agility, ballhandling, etc. And I like to see our players get pressed on occasion. But personally I think it's a mistake to press all the time. Players need to learn how to execute in half court too and be able to play a half court game and succeed.


coach Aussie Mike says:
10/24/2018 at 1:32:52 PM

Love this website, the advice, drills, straegy and even the comments sections.. For this drill, a word of warning in that I feel it needs to be done in the right context and balanced with a good passing drill after or before. Last thing you want when a press is on, is for your players to try and beat it with the dribble. It is of course critical for your players to be able to dribble under pressure and be comfrotable under pressure - hence my advice of a balanced approach with passing drills - you just don't want to send the wrong message... it's all about the context ... thanks again for the great website ...


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