Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why Triple Threat is Bad for Offense and Bad for Players

When  coaches talk about a lack of fundamentals in US players what are they really talking about? It's not shooting - lots of kids can shoot it very well. It's not ball handling - every kid now can dribble like Bob Cousy. What we are really talking about is the fact that players don't know how to move the ball and make decisions quickly. A big part of the problem is that we teach and emphasize triple threat. The Tweet below comes from a group called "D1 Experience" who touts themselves as a group that gets players ready to play Division 1  basketball. The tweet highlights the "importance" of triple threat (I won't even get into the stupidity of the dribbling comment). Unfortunately it is dead wrong. 

Anyway, why do I hate the triple threat? It's simple. The triple threat encourages players to hold the basketball. They hold it, they face up, they jab step, jab again, maybe throw a shot fake in for good measure. As they do that, what happens? The defense gets into position, the other offensive players start watching. Using and teaching triple threat slows down offense, creates ball watchers, and encourages selfish 1 on 1 play. It does not have a single positive attribute. 

The three clips below are of this year's French U20 National Team - you can watch the entire game by clicking here.  The way they play is very reminiscent of the way the Spurs play - they move the ball quickly, they find the open player, and no one uses triple threat. How many times does a player get into triple threat, use jab fakes, etc? The answer is never. They make decisions on the catch and shoot it, drive it, or move it immediately. They move the ball quickly, make quick decisions and read the defense before or on the catch. They are holding the ball around a second and moving it. Their drives are not coming out of triple threat, but coming immediately on the catch. It's beautiful basketball and it's free of triple threat. This is the way basketball is meant to be played, so why don't we teach it this way in America?


Unknown said...

"This is the way basketball is meant to be played, so why don't we teach it this way in America?" - J.C.

I already know where you stand on this debate, but it's possible that playing with a 24-second shot clock doesn't leave time for triple threat. If a player holds the ball a possession is likely lost.

In the U.S., with a longer (or no) clock below the pro level, there isn't the urgency to move the ball quickly. Coaches can comfortably teach triple threat. After all, "that's the way we've always done it," and "you have to walk before you can run."

The only way to develop the Spurs style of play throughout this country is for coaches to change their ways on their own, or be forced to change by the rule book.

JohnCarrier said...

Thanks for the comment! It is 100% possible. The shot clock helps players learn to play this way for sure. You bring up an outstanding point and why I have switched to being in favor of a shot clock. Couldn't agree more with your last paragraph.

JohnCarrier said...

Thanks for the comment! It is 100% possible. The shot clock helps players learn to play this way for sure. You bring up an outstanding point and why I have switched to being in favor of a shot clock. Couldn't agree more with your last paragraph.

Ryan Brown said...

I enjoy reading your opinions, but I have to respectfully disagree with two parts of this post.
Before I begin, I agree with much more of what you write than what I disagree with, but I have a tendency to respond to the things I disagree with.

Disagreement #1: The twitter post from D1 Experience has nothing to do with the jab step. It has to do with the glide dribble. When a pg is pressured and trying to get into the offense, they should get sideways, jab at the defense with their foot closest to the D, and use their hip to make contact and create space. Jabs and violent dribbles are used to create space or blow by the D if they don't give space. The same move is often also used to set up a side pick and roll.

Disagreement #2: This really is not an argument against your points on the triple threat, but more of an argument for why a team may teach the triple threat.

I completely agree, that in a motion (predominantly ball screen) system like the French team you linked or the Spurs there is not much reason for a triple threat. Why? The next action is always happening immediately. If you come off a down screen and cannot score, you are immediately receiving a ball screen and into the next action. This is great and I agree probably ONE OF the best ways to teach action because it is so hard as a defense to guard action after action without resetting... BUT and this is a big but, it depends on the system that you run.

What if I run a more traditional motion without the ball screen? If you don't have the decision makers and ball handlers you may do this. Then you are depending often on basket cuts, back screens, and single and double away screens. As this action is developing you are often left with a 2 man game. If the post is being denied and all action is going away from the player with the ball, this is an ideal time to set up your man with a jab and go or jab cross. OR What if you run an offense like the triangle offense. Often you are trying to get the ball to the high post (pinch post) and have your best player face up. A jab step is huge in gaining an advantage at this spot on the floor.

All that being said, I think the triple threat is both over emphasized and overused. We all watch Lebron (who I like) catch the ball and jab for 10 of the 24 seconds. This is bad. Instead, coaches do need to do a better job teaching ball movement and immediately attacking closeouts. BTW, I actually do not teach jab moves. We run a Beilein West-Virginia system and it is all about ball movement, basket cuts, flare screens, and attacking the closeouts on ball reversal or after different screening actions.

Thanks for your opinions and keep the blog posts coming!

JohnCarrier said...


Thanks for the feedback, I love it! I like when people disagree with me because I then have to examine my points. I agree with your point on the D1 post, but the issue becomes that this advice is for guys like Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, or even good college guys. The point guard that I coach on the sophomore team needs to either catch and drive or catch and pass. If he's playing with the ball we are in trouble! But he will read that and when he gets pressured do those things. Best way to beat pressure is to catch and drive. After being blown by 2-3 times they will back off.

Also, with ball movement, I understand your point on looking. Point Guard College uses a the term "peak" and that's what I believe players need to do ON or BEFORE the catch, or at the very least within a second of the catch. If the action hasn't gotten anyone open move the ball. I'm not a ball screen guy either and more of a traditional motion guy as well. With that said consider this out of a 4 out. The guard reverses to the opposite guard and then screens away for the wing who curls it. The receiving guard peaks inside on/before the catch. Nothing is open right away so he quickly swings it to the wing and starts to basket cut. The wing then can see the guy finishing the curl cut, take a quick look at the cutter, and then reverse to the player filling. For me, it's another way to play. Thoughts on that?


Ryan Brown said...

I like your thoughts. I still agree and disagree with your thoughts on the D1Experience post. I coach at the JV level and I do not think it is imperative for my PG's to have this skill. BUT, when we play a team that plays aggressive man to man defense, these skills become very important for getting into the offense. I agree, once we have made our initial entry into our 1/2 court offense all perimeter players should shoot, drive, or pass and make this decision very quickly. D1Experience is trying to teach D1 skills. To be honest, the skill they are teaching of being able to handle pressure is more valuable than 1/2 the camps you see out there that work on a million fancy moves that are not game like. Just a thought.

As for the "peak" philosophy I am pretty much on board. I have a lot of respect for PGC. That being said, there are times to hold the ball a little longer and other times to reverse the basketball. I think there are many ways you can approach a guard to guard pass with a screen away. I could shoot if open,attack the closeout, wait to allow the screener to set the screen and read if my player is going to be open off the screen, I could also reverse the basketball and either screen away (for a double staggered), basket cut, or follow my pass and set a ball screen if I am a forward. All of these options involve different amounts of time to develop. BUT as a general rule of thumb I like the idea of immediately shooting if the defense is off (and if I am a maker), immediately attacking the top foot if the defense is closing out hard, and if these two options aren't available or within my skill set, reversing the basketball and moving. If we watch any EURO game we see these same things. Most times the ball moves quickly and reverses the floor, but after a couple consecutive passes, the ball usually pauses to allow all the action away from the ball to set up. Keep up the good work and I enjoy going back and forth a little bit.

Boostr Crowe said...

Triple threat is a must against pressure defense. Players have to be balanced and front defensive player with the ball. There IS no positive movement of the ball nor offensive moves with authority when not facing and seeing the floor. If triple threat is ONLY taught for one on one moves it becomes a bad principle for offense. I coach a team with 3 basketball players and a roster filled with few athletes. Only way to be successful is to teach every player to be strong with the ball , face up their defender and become an offensive threat by shooting, Passing or making a viable move to the rim to score or create a help situation for a pass that leads to a good shot.

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