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Playing the Pivot

The pivot position, the post position, the center, whatever one wants to call it, it is one of the most important positions on a basketball team.

It was once thought that a team was built around a strong pivot player. In today’s game it may not be so important but it still is a key to success.

To be a successful post up player you need to learn how to play with your back to the basket. There are keys to posting up and they include; positioning, a strong stance and calling for the ball.


A pivot player needs to win the box at the bottom of the foul lane. You need to be the first to the spot and get positioning before you defensive opponent takes that spot away from you. Once you have the spot, do not lose it. Stay out of the three second land but as close to the box as possible. Learn to accept the pressure the defensive player is going to apply to either your upper legs or lower back. This is an attempt to “move” you off the block.

Wide stance

In order to keep you position and not be moved off the block, a good string stance is needed. First create a wide stance. Spread you legs wider than your shoulders. A wider base makes it harder for you to be moved off you spot. Bend a bit at the knees and refuse to be pushed of your spot.

Call for the ball

Once you are in position you need to call for the ball. Extend you arms high above your head or to your left or right, depending on what side of the court you are on. Place them as far away from the defender as you can and exactly where you want the pass to be thrown. The bigger that target you are the easier for your teammate to pass it to you and the more likely your teammate will pass it.

Spin, drop step and shot or pass

Once the ball has come to you, your options are many. You can fake left or right and spin in the lane for a hook or spin base line for a jumper or a lay in. The drop step is one key to get around your opponent.

To do this, feel what side the most pressure is being applied by your opponent and with your opposite leg move it back towards the defender and around his leg and hip, this instantly gives you an advantage to spin and shot or it gives you a direct lane to the hoop.
A strong drop step like Olajuwon had and no one can stop you. The pass out is also an effective offensive tactic once the ball has been passed to you. If you are double teamed once you have the ball, then you can pass it back out to your teammate or spin and try a skip pass, meaning passing it diagonally across court to a teammate, if his defender has dropped down to help weak side against you or has double teamed you.

The post position has been important since the Mikan days and the ultimate post player, Bill Russell defined the position for all those that followed including Jabbar, Olajuwon and Ewing.


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