Basketball Post-up

Understanding the Term “Post Up” in Basketball

Let’s talk about something you’ll hear a lot during a basketball game: “post up.” If you’re scratching your head wondering what that means, you’re in the right place. Posting up is a classic move that’s as much a part of basketball as the squeak of sneakers on hardwood. But what exactly is it?

Simply put, to “post up” is to plant yourself near the basket, with your back to the hoop and your defender behind you. Think of it like marking your territory in the paint (the area near the basket) and preparing to make a move that could lead to a sweet score or a pass to a teammate.

Even though the game has changed a lot, with three-pointers flying more than ever, the post-up play hasn’t lost its magic. It’s about using strength and smarts to get in a prime position to score or help out a buddy on the court.

So, let’s dig deeper and get you acquainted with the nitty-gritty of post-up play.

The Basics of Post-Up Play

The post isn’t just a spot; it’s a special zone on the court. It’s that rectangle right by the basket, split into the low post (closer to the baseline) and the high post (closer to the free-throw line). When you’re in this zone, you’re in the thick of the action.

Typically, the big guys — your centers and power forwards — are the ones who post up. They’ve got the height and heft to set up shop near the basket and muscle their way to score. But it’s not all about size; it’s also about having a soft touch and a bit of finesse.

Think of post-up play like a dance. It’s all about footwork and positioning. You’ve got to pivot, shuffle, and sometimes spin to keep your defender guessing and to find that precious open space for a shot.

There are a few rules to keep in mind so you don’t hear the ref’s whistle ruining your groove. For one, you can’t camp out in the paint for more than three seconds if you’re not actively trying to score. And, of course, no shoving your defender aside — this isn’t football!

Now that we’ve covered the basics, you’re on your way to understanding one of the game’s classic moves.

The Mechanics of a Post-Up Move

When a player decides to post up, they’re not just standing around waiting for the ball. There’s an art to it, a set of savvy moves and quick decisions. Let’s break it down, step by step.

First things first: you’ve got to claim your spot. This means getting your body between the defender and the basket. You want to be close enough to the hoop to be a threat but also give yourself room to maneuver. It’s about finding that sweet spot on the floor where you’re in control.

Once you’ve got your spot, it’s all about getting the ball. As the ball comes your way, you’ve got to have “sticky hands” — ready to catch and secure the ball. Keep it high, out of reach of those pesky defenders looking to swipe it away.

With the ball in your hands, it’s showtime. Here’s where the classic moves come into play:

  1. Drop step: This is your bread and butter. Pivot around the defender, stepping toward the basket for a layup or dunk.
  2. Hook shot: Old school but effective. Use your body to shield the ball and loft it over the outstretched hands of the defender.
  3. Up-and-under move: Fake a shot to get your defender in the air, then step through for an easy bucket.

But what if the defender knows what’s coming? That’s where you need a counter move. If they bite on your fake shot, slip around them. It’s like chess — always be two moves ahead.

The Strategic Importance of Post-Up Play

You might wonder, with all the emphasis on fast breaks and three-pointers, does posting up still matter? Absolutely. It’s a chess match inside the game.

When a player posts up, it forces the defense to make a choice. Do they double-team the big guy, leaving a shooter open? Or do they risk single coverage and hope for the best? Either way, it creates opportunities.

Basketball is all about exploiting mismatches. If a smaller player ends up on a big man, it’s like ringing the dinner bell. Feed the post and let the big guy go to work.

Missed shots are a part of the game, but what happens next can be crucial. Post players are often in prime position to grab rebounds and score on second chances. It’s the hustle points that often make the difference in a tight game.

Sure, the game may be drifting away from the low post, but smart teams still use it to their advantage. It’s about balance. Keep the defense guessing with a mix of inside and outside play, and you’ll find your way to the scoreboard more often than not.

Famous Post Players

Let’s stroll down memory lane and shine a spotlight on some of the legends who turned the post-up into an art form. These players have left an indelible mark on the game, showing just how powerful a well-executed post-up can be.

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the skyhook: This guy’s skyhook was so good, it was almost unfair. Kareem could post up, flick that wrist, and the ball would sail in an arc no one could touch.
  2. Shaquille O’Neal’s dominance in the paint: Shaq was a force of nature. He’d park himself in the post, and good luck moving that mountain. Once he had the ball, it was pretty much over for the defense.
  3. Hakeem Olajuwon and his “Dream Shake”: Hakeem had moves on moves. His Dream Shake was a dizzying array of fakes and spins that left defenders looking like they were on roller skates.

Training for Post-Up Play

If you want to rule the paint, you’ve got to put in the work. Here’s how players sharpen their skills to become masters of the post-up.

It’s all about repetition. Drills that focus on footwork, catching the ball in the post, and making quick, decisive moves are key. Think about drills that replicate game situations, where you have to make a move against a defender or score over a raised hand.

This isn’t about bulking up to look good at the beach. It’s functional strength you’re after. Core workouts, squats, and exercises that improve your lower body strength are crucial. They give you the power to hold your ground and the explosion to go up strong.

Brains over brawn, folks. Understand the game. Study players who excel at post-play. Learn how they think, move, and react. Being a post player is about being a step ahead, not just physically but mentally, too.

Post-Up Play in Different Levels of Basketball

From the polished hardwood of professional leagues to the echoing gyms of high school basketball, the post-up is a universal language spoken across all levels of the game.

High School and Collegiate levels

In high school hoops, a strong post player can be a team’s cornerstone, often leading to dominance in the paint. College ball takes it up a notch, with more sophisticated defenses and players who have started to refine their craft, making the post-up a strategic weapon.

Professional Play – NBA and International Leagues

The pros? That’s where post play gets really serious. The NBA has seen its share of post-up legends, and while the game is evolving, those who can hold their own in the post are still valuable. Internationally, the post game is alive and well, with many leagues still cherishing the close-range battles under the basket.

Women’s Basketball and the Post-up Game

Let’s not forget the women’s game, where post play is just as vital. The women’s game often emphasizes fundamentals, and you’ll see some textbook post moves that remind you why this play is such a classic.

The Evolution of Post-Up Play

The only constant in basketball is change. The post-up has evolved, adapting to the three-point revolution and the pace-and-space era. But it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Yes, the analytics guys will tell you it’s all about the three-pointer now. But savvy coaches and players know that a smart post-up can still break open a game.

Interestingly, we’re seeing guards and small forwards adding post moves to their repertoire. It’s a new age where versatility is king, and being a threat in the post isn’t just for the big men.

What does the future hold for the post-up? It’s likely to become a skill among many, rather than the centerpiece of a player’s game. But those who master it will find themselves one step ahead, with a powerful tool that can change the tempo and add a layer of unpredictability to the game.


From high school to the pros, the post-up remains a fundamental aspect of basketball strategy. It can dictate matchups, control the pace, and produce those hard-earned points in the paint.

For the young ballers out there, don’t sleep on the post-up. It can add depth to your game and make you a more complete player. So, get down to the paint and start working on those moves.

As the game continues to evolve, the post-up will adapt, but it will always be a part of basketball’s soul.

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