Using Footwork to Become a Great Offensive Player

August 24, 2023

To be an elite offensive player, there is so much footwork that comes into play. In my previous article, I wrote about how important footwork is with regard to defense, so here I will flip the coin and illustrate the same point on the opposite end of the floor. Training footwork for the offensive portion of the game is ESSENTIAL.

Triple Threat

In the triple threat position, it is important to be able to pivot with either foot in either direction. Reverse Pivots and forward pivots are key skills as well. Having a solid foundation with these things opens the door for effective triple threat moves such as the jab step and the rocker step. Without the basic foundation of establishing a pivot foot and knowing how to correctly pivot a player is at a much higher risk of being called for traveling violations. They also will have difficulty dealing with high pressure defenses.

Having effective footwork in the triple threat position also allows players to effectively protect the ball and maintain the ball-body-defender orientation that helps to avoid deflections and turnovers.

Dribbling moves

Footwork is foundational in essentially every dribbling move imaginable. From a basic stutter step to selling a crossover or an in and out move, the offensive player’s feet need to be telling the story that they want the defender to buy. I’m a big proponent of stationary ball handling drills but I like to emphasize that players should move their feet while doing them so that they can be more applicable. 

There are many players who are great at stationary ball handling warm ups but fail to keep that same proficiency while doing moves on the go - a lot of this can be blamed on a lack of footwork. Having effective moves is only partially reliant on one’s ball handling ability. It is the movement of a player's feet that will make each move look more and more realistic to a defender. 

Full court ball handling drills are a great way for players to work on their footwork while dribbling on the move and they can be challenging because they involve coordinating one’s feet to match the movement of the ball while sprinting at the same time. In our training programs we like to incorporate a lot of full court ball handling to give players a taste of this.

One player to watch whose footwork matches his handle seamlessly is Kyrie Irving - he knows exactly how to move his feet to create space and get to wherever he wants to on the basketball court.

Scoring Moves

This is somewhat a continuation of the previous section - dribbling moves can get you to the spot you want to be on the floor, but as you approach it/once you get there, you need to be equipped with the appropriate footwork to make a play whether it be scoring or passing the basketball. 

Pull up Jump Shot

1-2 Footwork on a pull up jump shot

There are a plethora of moves and footwork that come into play here - the first thing that comes to mind is the basic one-two footwork on a pull up jump shot. You want to make sure that your inside foot is the first one to hit the ground, followed by your outside foot, in order to have the smoothest transition into a jump shot. 

Hop Footwork on a pull up jump shot

Another way to shoot a pull up jump shot is to use the “hop” footwork, where you stop on your inside foot and take a small hop to square your feet up and get into the shot. A player with great footwork should be able to use both the hop and the 1-2 to get into their pull-up jump shot, depending on the situation. 

Using 1-2 footwork is best in a half court situation where you don't have too much momentum that you need to break. It is also the quicker of the two options because you don't waste any time in the air. Hop footwork is best to use when you are running or jogging close to full speed + when you have a lot of place - for example, coming down the court in transition. The hop is slower but it gives you more control for stopping your momentum so that you can shoot a balanced shot. It is extremely important to make sure that ones basketball skills training routine includes reps of both of these options.

Players with Great Pull up Jumpers

Some great players to  watch for footwork on pull up jump shots are Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Kyrie Irving (again). They are able to get to their spot, stop on a dime and elevate to get a great look. Film study on them is extremely beneficial for any basketball player looking to master pull up shots/the midrange.

I point to these 3 not only because of their uncanny ability to knockdown pull ups, but also because of the array of counter moves that each of them have for scoring in the mid/close-range outside of just pull up jumpers.

Pull up Jumper Counter Moves

There are a plethora of counter moves that can be used coming out of the pull up jump footwork. The key is to have a lot of poise when doing these moves and to not be in a rush. The 3 players above are a great example of these counter moves as well. Here are a few of them that you can look for when watching games or highlights:

Pump fake step through 

Pump fake reverse pivot

Pump fake fly by

These are just a few examples but there are plenty more footwork combinations that can be used to score the basketball if a player does not shoot the pull up jump shot right away.

As you can see, footwork is key to being an effective basketball player both offensively and defensively. In my training program we emphasize the importance of midrange scoring and footwork - if you are located in Maryland try out a free trial session in my program.

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