Basketball Post-up Moves

Dominate the Paint: Ultimate Guide to Basketball Post Moves

Welcome to the unsung hero of basketball skills: the post move. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “In a world of Steph Curry-range three-pointers, what’s all the fuss about an old-school skill set?”

Well, post moves are like the spices in a master chef’s kitchen. They might not be the main ingredient, but they sure make the dish—a.k.a. your basketball game—much tastier.

In the land beneath the hoop, where giants often roam, a player with slick post moves is like a crafty knight, outmaneuvering the dragons. You don’t have to be the tallest, the fastest, or the most athletic. If you’ve got clever footwork and a few smooth moves in the paint, you can score against almost anyone.

So, whether you’re a budding baller or just love to get down in the weekend warrior pickup games, this guide will walk you through the essential post moves that’ll help you get that easy two. Let’s break them down one by one, shall we?

Establishing Position in the Post

Getting Your Feet Right

Imagine you’re trying to secure the best spot at a concert. You want a clear view, right? In basketball, scoring in the post is a bit like that. You’ve got to set yourself up in the best possible position if you want to see the ball swish through the net. This means getting your footwork down pat.

Start with a strong, wide base—feet shoulder-width apart. This isn’t a ballet; it’s more like you’re squatting to lift something heavy. Stay low and ready to pounce. Your goal is to create a stronghold where defenders can’t easily push you around. Think of yourself as a tree; your feet are the roots, and you want to be as immovable as possible.

Sealing the Deal

Now that you’re rooted, it’s time to seal off that defender—like claiming your territory. Use your body as a shield between them and the ball. When your teammate is ready to pass, give a target hand—show them where you want the ball. This isn’t a subtle hint; it’s a clear, “Hey, pass it here!”

The Drop Step

The Drop Step is old-school, but don’t let its age fool you; it’s still one of the most effective moves in the book. It’s like that classic rock hit that everyone still cranks up when it comes on. Simple and timeless.

Here’s how you do it: Once you’ve caught the ball in your stronghold position, check where your defender is. If they’re on your left shoulder, you’re going to pivot (or “drop”) your right foot around them. It’s a quick move—think of stomping on a bug right behind you on your right.

The Step-by-Step

  1. Catch the ball: Use both hands, and keep it protected.
  2. Read the defender: Feel where they are with your body.
  3. Pivot: If the defender is on your left, pivot right; if they’re on your right, pivot left.
  4. Stomp and seal: That pivot foot is going to stomp behind you to seal the defender away.
  5. Go for the basket: Once you’ve created space, it’s time to lay it in or go for a short jump shot.

Timing and Effectiveness

The beauty of the Drop Step is its element of surprise and its simplicity. It’s a quick hit that doesn’t give the defender time to react. Use it when you’ve got a size advantage, or when you feel the defender leaning one way. It’s all about feeling their weight and using it against them.

The Hook Shot

The hook shot is the bread and butter of post moves. It’s that reliable old friend you call up when you need to get out of a jam. Why’s it so effective? Height. Angle. Grace. It’s a shot that’s tough to block, even for those pesky defenders who like to jump out of the gym.

How to Hook ’em

  1. Start Strong: Plant yourself in the post with that trusty strong base—shoulders parallel to the backboard, ball in hand.
  2. Pick Your Pivot: Like a game of Twister, it’s all about the pivot foot. If you’re shooting with your right hand, your left foot is your pivot.
  3. Elbow Power: The hook shot is all elbow. Bring the ball up with a bend in your elbow like you’re starting a lawnmower (that’s right, old school).
  4. The Release: Unleash the shot by extending your arm in a sweeping motion. The ball should roll off your fingertips, giving it that sweet arc.
  5. Follow Through: Imagine you’re reaching into a cookie jar on a high shelf. That’s your follow through—up and out, with a bit of wrist action.

Why Hook Shots Work

So, what’s the big deal? The arc, my friends. A good hook shot arches like a rainbow. Even if you’re not the tallest player, that high release point and the arc make it hard for defenders to swat it away.

Plus, it’s versatile. Got a defender crowding you? Hook shot. Double-team coming your way? Hook shot. It’s like having a Swiss Army knife in your pocket. Always handy, always effective.

The Up and Under Move

The Up and Under is less like a brute force move and more like a magic trick. It’s all about selling a story—the story where you’re going up for a massive shot. Except, you’re not. Just as the defender buys into your fake and leaps to block the imaginary shot, you slide under them for an easy layup.

Perfecting the Fake

  1. The Set-Up: Begin like you’re about to take the biggest shot of your life. Really sell it.
  2. The Lift: Raise up on your toes, and with the ball, execute a fake shot, thrusting it upwards but not releasing.
  3. Read the Defender: This is where you pause for a split second. Is your defender taking the bait and jumping to block?
  4. The Under: If they bite, keep your pivot foot glued down and step through with your other foot, swooping under the defender.
  5. The Finish: With the defender (hopefully) behind you, go for a smooth layup or short jumper.

Selling Your Story

The better you can sell that fake, the more space you’ll have for the actual shot. It’s about patience, timing, and a bit of acting skills. The most successful Up and Unders are performed by players who can make a defender commit to the wrong move.

The Spin Move

Now, let’s get into something a little flashier—the Spin Move. It’s a crowd-pleaser, sure, but it’s also incredibly effective. Imagine you’re in a dance, and your defender is your partner. Suddenly, you spin away and leave them behind, standing alone on the dance floor.

Twirling Technique

  1. The Set-Up: Plant yourself in the post, ball secured, and feel out where your defender is.
  2. Initiate the Spin: Begin to dribble to one side to get your defender sliding with you.
  3. The Twist: As the defender shifts, drop the shoulder closest to them and spin off in the opposite direction. This is your pivot point.
  4. Protect the Ball: As you spin, keep the ball tight to your body to shield it from sneaky hands trying to poke it away.
  5. The Separation: Complete your spin with a step towards the basket, creating the separation needed to go up for the shot.

Why It Works

The Spin Move is effective because it uses the defender’s momentum against them. When done quickly, it’s incredibly difficult to defend because the defender has to completely reverse their direction.

The key to a good Spin Move is the speed of the spin and the abrupt change in direction, leaving the defender disoriented and you with a clear path to the hoop.

When practicing the Spin Move, think fluidity and quickness. It’s not about muscling through but rather slipping past the defense with finesse. With a little practice, you’ll be spinning through the defense like a top, and they won’t know what hit them.

The Power Dribble and Drop Step Combo

The Power Dribble and Drop Step Combo is like a one-two punch in boxing. It combines raw power with swift maneuvering. The key here is to use the dribble to gain momentum and the drop step to seal the defender, giving you a clear path to the hoop.

Execution with Precision

  1. Start with the Ball: Secure the ball and square up to the basket, ready to make your move.
  2. The Power Dribble: Take a strong dribble to the side of your dominant hand to create force. This isn’t just any dribble—it’s assertive, meant to push you into your move.
  3. Feel the Defender: Use your body to gauge where the defender is. Are they leaning on you? Are they giving you space?
  4. Drop Step: If the defender is on the side of your power dribble, use that moment to pivot away from them, sealing them off with your body.
  5. Seal and Score: After the drop step, you should be between the defender and the basket. Go up strong and finish at the rim.

The Power Play

What makes this move so effective is that it utilizes both a strong, aggressive dribble to gain an advantage and then a strategic pivot to create space.

It’s perfect for when you’re dealing with a pesky defender who’s right up on you, trying to crowd your space. A powerful dribble can throw them off balance, and a quick pivot seals them away, leaving you a clear lane to the basket.

The Face-Up Game

Facing up is about sizing up your options. It’s like being at a crossroads: you can shoot, dribble, or pass. You’re not turning your back to the basket; you’re confronting it, and in doing so, confronting your defender with a challenge.

How to Face Up Like a Pro

  1. Catch and Look: Once you get the ball, instead of turning your back to the hoop, stay facing it. You want to see the entire court.
  2. The Stance: Keep your knees bent and your body low. You’re in an active, ready position, like a sprinter ready to explode off the blocks.
  3. Read the Defense: Take a moment to assess what your defender is giving you. Are they close enough to smell what you had for lunch? Or are they giving you enough space for a quick shot?
  4. Make Your Move: If they’re close, you can drive. If they’re sagging off, you can shoot. The beauty of facing up is that it keeps your options wide open.

The Advantage of Versatility

The Face-Up Game is all about versatility. It forces the defender to guess your next move, and a player with multiple skills can be unpredictable.

By facing up, you’re not just a scorer; you’re a triple-threat player who can pass, dribble, or shoot. This keeps the defender on their heels and makes you a dynamic threat in the post.

The effectiveness of facing up is in the player’s ability to make quick decisions. The quicker you can read the defense and react, the more effective you’ll be. It’s not about overpowering; it’s about outsmarting. With the whole court in your view, you’ve got the upper hand, ready to take whatever the defense gives you.

The Reverse Pivot

Think of the Reverse Pivot as your personal plot twist. Just when the defender thinks they’ve got you figured out, you spin away, opening up a whole new chapter of options. It’s a graceful move that relies more on finesse than force.

Mastering the Movement

  1. Initial Touch: Get the ball in your favorite post position, but instead of moving towards the basket, you’ll be spinning outwards.
  2. Plant and Spin: Choose your pivot foot wisely—it’s the anchor of this move. As you catch the ball, plant your pivot foot towards the defender.
  3. Reverse It: Pivot away from the defender, swinging the ball over and around to the opposite side. This creates distance between you and your opponent, giving you a moment of space.
  4. Decision Time: Once you’ve created space, it’s time to decide. Shoot, drive, or find an open teammate. You’ve just bought yourself a moment; use it wisely.

The Elegance of Space Creation

The Reverse Pivot shines because it’s about creating space where there was none. By reversing your motion, you force the defender to halt and change direction, which is no easy feat. It’s perfect when you feel crowded and need to buy some breathing room to make your next move.

The Jab Step Series

The Jab Step is like a good poker face; it’s all about deception. A quick thrust of your foot can send defenders reeling, guessing if you’re going for a drive. But in reality, it’s just the prelude to your real move.

The Dance of the Jab Step

  1. Face Up: Start by facing the basket with your knees bent. You’re in control here, ready to dictate the next move.
  2. The Jab: With the ball secure, jab with the foot opposite your shooting hand. Make it quick and decisive. Sell it as if you’re about to explode towards the basket.
  3. Read and React: Watch the defender’s feet. Do they bite on your jab? Do they shift their weight? Your next move depends on their reaction.
  4. Execute: If they fall for the jab and back off, pull up for a jumper. If they stay put, you’ve got the green light to drive.

A Symphony of Options

The Jab Step Series isn’t just one move; it’s a symphony. Each jab is a note, and depending on the defender’s response, you can compose your masterpiece—be it a drive, a shot, or a pass. The effectiveness of the jab step is that it forces defenders to make a quick decision, and often, they’ll make the wrong one.

In the post, where things can get tight and space is at a premium, a well-executed jab step creates just enough doubt in the defender’s mind to give you the upper hand.

Whether you use it as a setup for a shot or a drive, the jab step is all about positioning yourself for success by outmaneuvering the opponent mentally before you even make a physical move.

The Shoulder Shimmy

The Shoulder Shimmy is like throwing a little salsa dance into your post moves. It’s not just about power; it’s about rhythm and misdirection. When done right, you’ll have defenders jumping at shadows while you score with style.

Shimmying to Success

  1. Establish Your Presence: Get the ball in the post and root yourself like you’re ready to make a typical post move.
  2. The Shimmy: Give a quick, sharp shake of your shoulders. Think of it as a mini fake-out, suggesting you’re going one way when you’re really not.
  3. Sell the Fake: As you shimmy, start to turn towards the basket, then quickly snap back to your original position. This back-and-forth movement can confuse the defender about your next step.
  4. Capitalizing on Confusion: After the shimmy, read the defender. If they bite on your fake, take the opposite direction to the basket or pull up for the shot.

The Art of Misdirection

The effectiveness of the Shoulder Shimmy lies in its ability to create hesitation in the defender’s mind. In that split second of doubt, you gain the upper hand. It’s about subtlety and finesse, making the defender commit to a move that you’re never going to make.

The Fadeaway Jump Shot

The Fadeaway Jump Shot is the basketball equivalent of a smooth escape act. It’s about creating space and shooting over a defender, even when they’re right up in your grill. It’s a move popularized by legends like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and when it’s done right, it’s pretty much unstoppable.

Crafting the Perfect Fadeaway

  1. Position Yourself: Start with your back to the basket, close enough that a drive is threatening.
  2. The Turn: Pivot away from your defender, turning towards your strong side, as if initiating a normal jump shot.
  3. Fade Back: As you lift off for the shot, lean back slightly. This creates separation from the defender, making the block much harder.
  4. The Release: With a high release point, let the ball go at the peak of your jump. The arc is your friend here.

Elegance in Elevation

The Fadeaway’s effectiveness comes from its ability to put distance between you and the defender, making the shot difficult to contest. The key is balance and control – despite the “fade” part, this isn’t a Hail Mary; it’s a calculated maneuver designed to get a clean look at the basket.

Mastering Counter Moves

Basketball post moves aren’t just about the first move; they’re about having a plan B, C, and D. Counter moves are your contingency plans. When the defender stops your initial move, you pivot (literally and figuratively) to your next tactic.

Developing a Repertoire of Counters

  1. Read the Defender: It all starts with being aware. Watch how the defender reacts to your moves.
  2. Reverse Course: If you’ve gone for a hook and they’ve got it covered, pivot the other way and go for a fadeaway or step-through.
  3. Practice the Pivots: A good counter move often involves a pivot. Practicing your footwork can make or break your effectiveness in the post.

Having a set of counter moves makes you unpredictable and thus more dangerous. The best post players are those who can adapt on the fly, turning a well-defended move into an easy two points with a smart counter.


Post moves are a fundamental part of the game that can set a player apart.

They require finesse, physicality, and most importantly, a mental edge over the opponent. From the sturdy Drop Step to the elegant Fadeaway Jump Shot, each move has its own rhythm and purpose. But it’s the combination of these moves and the counters that truly makes a post player complete.

Remember, the key to dominating the paint isn’t just about having a bunch of moves; it’s about knowing when and how to use them. It’s about reading the defense, understanding the game’s flow, and making the right decision at the right time.

So, whether you’re a seasoned big man or a guard looking to expand your game, mastering these post moves—and knowing when to break out the counter moves—will keep your defenders guessing and the scoreboard ticking. Keep practicing, stay patient, and let the game come to you. That’s the art of post play.

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