How to Post Up in Basketball (12 Tips to Dominate Inside)
There aren’t many effective low post players in today’s game.
Players who you can throw the ball to down low and know they’re going to make a move or two and get a quality shot for themselves or a teammate.
It’s a rare skill.
And here’s one of the main reasons why posting up has become a uncommon skill:
Most coaches aren’t teaching the post up anymore.
And for the few who are, they’re not teaching the small, important details.
It’s been a long time since I walked into a gym and seen coaches teaching their players how to post up effectively and score on their opponent.
I love the ‘three-pointers and layups’ philosophy, but there are many times throughout a game where a player will switch onto a smaller, weaker defender but they don’t know how to take advantage of it in the post.
This needs to change.
Here are 12 tips to improve your post up game in basketball...
1. Be Able to Finish With Both Hands
If you’re only able to finish with your preferred hand, your scoring options are limited by 50%.
Defenders will be able to force you away from your preferred hand knowing that you don’t have the skills to score with your opposite.
For example, if you can only shoot the jump hook right-handed, the defender will force you left knowing you won’t be able to finish with your left hand.
Even if you fake right and step through for a layup, your shot will get blocked if you can’t switch to your left hand to use your right arm for protection.
If you can score with either hand, the defender will be forced to play you straight up.
This opens up a wide range of scoring options, allows you to use many different fakes, and will certainly improve your post up scoring.
2. Always Know Your Distance
The distance away from the basket you catch the basketball will determine which post moves you should use and how quickly you should attempt to score.
If you catch close the basket, a quick spin or quick jump hook will give you the best chance of success.
But if the defender has forced you to catch two steps off the low block (midrange area), it’s probably better to ace up to your opponent and then attack off the drive or shoot a clean bank shot off the glass.
See how different distances call for different post moves?
You must understand which post moves best suit your game and which distances from the rim they’re best used at.
We’ll go through this in detail later on.
3. Figure Out The Opponent’s Game Plan
After one or two possessions down the court, you should have a good idea of how the opposition is defending you in the low post.
- Are they playing behind?
- Are they fronting the post?
- Are they forcing you left?
- Are they giving you space to face up?
- Are they playing physical?
These are all questions that you must answer early in the game so you can adjust.
For example, if you’re a tall player and they’re fronting the post, your best option may be to allow them the front position and then receive a simple lob pass over top to score.
Understanding what they’re doing will allow you to work out how to counter their game plan.
4. Make the Jump Hook Your Go-To Move
In my opinion, every player needs to make the jump hook their bread-and-butter, go-to post move whenever they’re deep in the paint.
It’s quick, it’s difficult to defend, and many post moves finish with a jump hook.
All you’ll need to do is:
If you have good technique, your off-hand will protect the basketball from getting blocked.
And as said at the beginning of the article, you must be able to finish this move with both hands from a close distance around the rim.
5. Master Your Post Moves Footwork
All of the best post players have elite footwork.
Here I’m going to point the two best of all time and then show you a few videos of them.
a. Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem possessed a wide range of fakes and spins which would leave his defenders confused as he consistently ended up with wide open layups.
His most famous post move being the ‘Dream Shake’.
b. Kevin McHale
Just like Hakeem, Kevin had a wide range of post moves to dominate defenders.
His go-to being the up-and-under which I’ll break down later in the article.
6. Slow Down
Players have a tendency to rush their post moves when they catch the basketball on the low block or close to the basket.
This can lead to bad decisions and poor shots.
Of course, sometimes it is important to use a quick spin to score…
But if the defender is in position, understand you do have time to slow down, assess the situation, and then make your move.
- How is the defender guarding you?
- Are they sending another defender?
- Who’s open?
Being patient on the low block will result in better decisions and increased scoring from your post moves.
7. Be Able to Pass Out of the Post
Once you become a player who can score consistently in the low post, the defense will have no choice but to double team you to prevent you from scoring.
This opens up opportunities for your teammates...
But only if you can make an effective on-target pass to them.
A great player on the low post can whip a pass across court to an open teammate on the opposite wing or drop a small bounce pass off to a teammate cutting to the hoop.
Your first look must be to score, but be ready (and able) to find your teammates.
8. Achieve Good Low Post Position Early
The first step to getting the best low post position for you is to determine two things:
- Which position do you score best from?
- Who is guarding you?
You must understand this…
‘Good low post position’ doesn’t necessarily mean as close to the basket as possible.
If you’re playing against a player 4 inches taller than you and your best post move is to face up and attack, then your best post position might be catching it two steps off the low block.
Look to get the basketball in the position you perform best in and feel the most comfortable.
9. Embrace (and Love) Contact
When you’re playing in the low post, there’s going to be a lot of contact.
Which means you have two options:
- Avoid contact by refusing to attack your opponent and instead settle for outside jumpers.
- Embrace contact and relentlessly attack your opponent to score, get to the free-throw line, and get your opponent in foul trouble.
I hope you chose option two.
Whether it’s fighting to secure position on the low post or a defender landing on you after a deceptive shot fake, contact is coming.
The best post players love it.
And they’re willing to put their body on the line for their team possession after possession.
10. Sprint the Floor
Being willing to sprint down the floor on every possession is important for two reasons:
- You’ll get several wide open layups every game.
- You’ll get to ‘your spot’ quicker.
There are very few players who are willing to sprint basket-to-basket on every possession…
If you’re one of the rare few, and the team’s guards are willing to make the pass ahead (they better be), then I guarantee you’ll have several fast break layup opportunities each game.
Even if you don’t get a quick layup, sprinting the floor will allow you to get to the spot you score best from and establish position early.
11. Perfect Your Go-To Post Moves
I touched on this topic earlier in several points, but let’s be super clear about it…
You must understand which post moves you’re best suited for and then perfect them.
This allows you to catch the basketball in the right position, take advantage of your offensive strengths, and avoid your weaknesses.
If you’re uniquely strong and like to ‘bully’ in the low post, become exceptional at backing your defender into the low post and then finishing with a jump hook.
Once you’re consistently making that shot, add a counter like the up-and-under.
12. Seal Your Defender With Contact
When you do get to the spot you want to receive the basketball, make sure you’re sealing your defender with contact.
This makes it much harder for them to slip around you and steal the ball when a pass is made.
If you’re willing to be physical and do this and also show target hands where you want the ball, the team’s guards will have a much easier time feeding the post.
This means more touches for you (in the position you want the ball), more scoring opportunities, and a much bigger impact on the game.
Some may say “But Coach Mac... the post up isn’t effective anymore!”…
I would argue that point of view is mostly true at the highest levels when you’re competing against elite defense and coaching players who can knock down three-point shots at a high percentage.
At the youth level (and even into high school), posting up can be a high percentage play when you have players who know what they’re doing.
Using the 12 tips above, you’ll start guiding your players down the path to low post success.
Let’s bring the post up back into existence!