Not every [tag]basketball team[/tag] can run a man-to-man press, just like not every team can run a [tag]man-to-man defense[/tag]. But, there is a good chance that if you run a man-to-man defense, you can run a man-to-man press.
In order to run a solid man-to-man press, you need to be able to do the following:
• You need to be able to cover the passing lanes of the opposition players while covering the actual player. It cannot be played like a zone press, but you do have to protect an area rather than necessarily a player.
• Everyone on the court needs to know what is going on. Part of the success of this press is for the [tag]basketball[/tag] players to help each other in covering all of the passing areas. You will see in the diagram how this works.
• Try to force passes to players that are not strong ball handlers.
• While you are preventing the pass to players that are covered, you need to find a way to create pressure on the ball carrier. This is why getting the ball into the hands of a poor ball handler is better for this press.
This player needs to be quick and aggressive. They will cover the inbound person, or the quickest person on the court in order to keep them under control. The 1 man should be your most aggressive defender and quick with their hands in order to try and make steals on the ball.
2 and 3 man
The 2 and 3 men will cover the small forward and the shooting guard of the opposition. They need to be aware of how they are playing their checks, and they also need to be aware of guarding the passing lanes. While these players need to play a good prevent defense, they also need to attack the passing lanes if this press is going to be successful.
4 and 5 man
These players are going to cover the big men on the other side. One of the 4 or 5 men might need to cover the big man from the opposition if they other team uses them to inbound the ball, or to receive the ball. This would force them to play in the backcourt for a spell.
These players are likely going to be the biggest players on your team. They will also need to be quick and they need to anticipate some of the passes that are going to be made into their defensive zone. Each of these instances will be described in the following diagram.
The set up
Here’s how this press works:
• The 1 man will pressure the player who receives the ball on the inbounds play. They need to be aggressive and they need to pressure the ball handler into making a bad pass to one of their players.
• The 2 man and 3 man will cover their respective checks, but as you can see from the diagram, instead of covering the man like they would in a standard man-to-man defense, they will be covering the passing lane. This forces the ball handler to toss a pass over the head of the 2 and 3 man. This is a dangerous pass as you will see by what the 4 and 5 man have to do.
• The 4 and 5 man will have two responsibilities: first, they will be looking for the pass that goes over the head of the 2 man and the 3 man. Next, they need to cover the passing lane of the men at the other end of the court.
Keys to running a successful man-to-man press
• You need to teach your players to be aware of what is going on around them.
• The players need to be able to switch between covering passing lanes on the press and playing the man when they are on defense.
• Coaching pressure man-to-man defense when they are trying to force the press.
• Force the pass to players that are not strong ball handlers.