Press Breaker: Line


This press breaker works extremely well against teams that pressure the inbounds pass. If your team is struggling to get the ball inbounds, try this play and I can almost guarantee you'll see a big difference and reduce turnovers.


Player #5 and #4 are generally your post players. Players 1, 2, and 3 should be your best ball handlers.


  1. Start by simply lining up your players as shown in the diagram.

  2. If you're facing a zone press that is pressuring the inbounds pass, you'll find that you'll be able to easily inbounds the pass to one of the outside players.

    If you're facing a full-court man-to-man press that is denying the inbounds, you'll want your outside players to break down the court as shown in the diagram below.

  3. Assuming the ball was not immediately thrown to one of the outside players, you'll want Player 1 and Player 2 to set screens for each other trying to get open.

    TIP: If the defense is denying the inbound pass, teach your guards to position their body between the passer and their defender. It's just like a post player using their pivot to establish position and seal their man to get the ball. This is an extremely effective method to get open. Simply back pivot into the defender, seal him behind you, and call for the ball.

  4. If the ball is thrown to Player 1 or 2, then the rest of the team should get in their press breaker positions and work the ball down the court. If it's man-to-man, everyone should clear out and run down the court so the guard can bring the ball up.

  5. If the ball is thrown to an outside player, follow the sequence in the diagrams.

  6. Once Player 4 receives the ball, Player 2 should cut and run down the court looking for the ball. If he's open, Player 4 should pass him the ball and Player 2 might be able to dribble all the way down the court.

  7. Player 3 should maintain spacing and cut a split second after Player 1 begins to run down the court. Many times, Player 3 will be wide open for the pass because the previous cut drew the defensive players away. If open, Player 3 might be able dribble all the way down the court for an easy fast-break opportunity.

  8. Once the ball is passed to Player 2 or 3 and they could not dribble up the court, the other players should get in their normal press breaking positions (assuming it's a zone press).

    The pass usually goes to Player 3. This diagram shows the positioning in that situation.

  9. Player 3 should immediately look at Player 5 running down the court. Many times all the cutting on this side of the court opens up the other side, sometimes for a lay-up.

    If Player 5 is not wide open, look to the middle for Player 2 coming back to the ball. Advance the ball to Player 4. Or reverse the ball to Player 1.

  10. Keep reversing the ball until you can advance the ball up the court or hit the player in the middle.

    * The best thing about this play is that by lining up your players at the beginning, it's much easier to inbound the ball against pressure. And the cutting afterwards really opens up the court, especially if you have a couple players that can really run and handle the ball.


For a press breaker offense and strategy to avoid turnovers, you can reference Universal Press Breaker Offense & Strategy

Download 32 of our favorite basketball plays

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Coach G says:
1/3/2015 at 9:42:57 PM

I agree 100% on fundamental over win at all cost. I have 6th graders that not only don''t know the term "layup", also don''t know how to dribble and look around-but I have to teach them to handle playing against presses and zones. Wish it was an "equal" opportunity league.
Thanks for the site and tips.


Ken says:
11/10/2012 at 9:27:00 AM

To Russell -

I hope that you continue to post on this great site.... as I re read all of this I was thinking... GREAT DISCUSSION. I would hope that you would continue to give us your thoughts.... it makes for a great give and take.

Who knows what we might learn and more importantly, other coaches who read this and aren't sure they want to chime in.



way Lon says:
11/9/2012 at 10:18:13 PM

I am very pleased with this play I'm so glad I found it thank you very much will definitely have to use this. I can just picture the play in my head and it looks beautiful and it seems really really easy


Ken says:
1/15/2012 at 6:51:58 PM


If you ask any Varsity coach, Jeff, Joe, Myself & Don Kelbick, you will hear us saying the same things you are saying... NO pressing at this age because of all the time you need to spend on other fundamentals. Those coaches are thinking more about winning than teaching the game. JMO

We worked the NO dribble open post offense too.. its a great way to teach your players to read the defense and get open along with protecting the ball.

As for breaking the press... you have found a way that works for you.... thats great, thats what this game is all about.


Mike says:
1/15/2012 at 6:27:05 PM

Greetings. Ask a youth official what he/she thinks about pressing at the 4th and 5th grade level. My 5th graders play solid half court defense. When the tournament allown for pressing in the 2nd half we struggle and often lose leads. This is because we work on fundamentals and "moves", positioning, defense, rebounding, and passing. Now we are forced to incorporate a breaker and spend precious practice time on it, which takes away from shooting, footwork and other things that coaches at the varsity level expect youth coaches to work on so they don't have to spend time teaching things these girls should have learned when they were 11...

Regarding the breaker-we send the 4 streaking down the court for a breakaway (after a quick 2 step cut toward the ball). We then have the 5 roll to the middle (around the 3 pt line or a bit inside). We make sure to have the strongest armed ball handler take the ball out.

The most effective thing we do in practice work a NO DRIBBLE offense, in our case 5 out with basket cuts...Strongly recommend no dribble-our passing has become dynamite due to this...

Great site, love it.



Ken says:
1/9/2012 at 1:57:54 PM


There are a few things you can do ... use a pick and roll with the guards and send the others deep..... or you could use the bigs by having them take a few steps a way, V cut and get open, that will open up your guards to fill their lanes with their defender behind them... nice numbers I would say. IF I am reading you right.

We used the 1-4 across vs every press.


Paul says:
1/9/2012 at 1:47:23 PM

How would this press break change if the defense uses a center fielder (no coverage of inbound pass) and denies man-man the other players?


Ken Sartini says:
12/28/2011 at 6:43:00 AM

The thing that makes this game so great is there are a lot of ways to do things..... at the age group you work with, anything goes....

I think the biggest thing he was saying is this... as long as they are being taught the fundamentals of the game and not just pressing, making it a helter - skelter game, he doesn't have a problem with it.... IF they are doing that just to get the W, thats wrong?

As a Varsity high school coach, I loved it when kids came in and knew how to play pressure m2m defense and knew the fundamentals of the game. I saw several kids come in and were bringing the ball up from the wrong side going into their shot... that takes forever to break that habit.... some never did.

I just don't think that kids should be pressing until they get to 7/8th grade, but thats just me.
The youth coaches only have so much practice time available to them.... and I would like to think that they would use it wisely and teach the whole game... just like you and I do.

At our levels, we certainly need to have sound fundamentals, on both ends of the floor regardless of where we picked them up.

I think I can speak for most coaches here... GREAT shooters make GREAT coaches.... they sure make us look good don't they? :-)

Happy New Year to you and everyone here, I hope you have a good season.


Russell says:
12/28/2011 at 5:47:08 AM

Dear coaches, thanks for your comments. I will make this my last post on this topic as I think I've had my say.
To coach ken thanks for the link. I read that article 2 years ago and I also took the time to read the article it was addressing. However it's important I think to not be too selective in quoting people's views especially when they suspiciously coincide with their own. Brian has written many articles including an excellent one in which he challenges the notion that zone defenses is bad at youth level.
My view is that really likes to explore views and concepts regardless of whether they coincide with his own views. In blitz basketball he encourages full court m2m press for under 9 teams thru to seniors..
Can I just clarify a point here - I don't coach youth teams I coach middle&high school ages. And I prefer getting players that have played full court basketball in younger age groups.
Like coaches said earlier we tend to go on our experiences. I have had better experiences refining things like helpside defense and jump to the ball to kids that have developed an aggressive full court mentality than trying to instill that aggression in players who have been schooled to concede 40 feet of territory on change of possession. Again that's just my view.
Lastly can I say that whilst I like my teams to press we still have to play a lot of half court defense on possessions falling back from the press. I like to think that we use sound defense principles in whatever part of the court we pick up at.
Thanks for everyone's input.

  1 reply  

Byron says:
6/15/2016 at 4:35:06 PM

Curious, about point #4. "Rest of team gets into their press breaker positions?" What are their breaker positions in the event the ball is inbound to 1 or 2? An e-mail or reply back is greatly appreciated!



Ken Sartini says:
12/27/2011 at 6:24:00 PM


Here is an article from Brian McCormick -


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