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Best outdoor basketball Strategic moves you must know about

Full attack! Or should we go for the defense? In basketball, tactics often decide whether you lose or win. Here you will learn all about the basics of strategy, what typical tactics there are in the game of basketball and what exercises you can use to practice the different moves. Also make sure to check out this Compelling list of basketballs that talks in details for everything you need to know about lists of basketballs out there.

The tactics planning in basketball is explained to the basketball team on the tactics board by the basketball coach.


What does tactics in basketball mean?

In basketball, tactics play a major role, as they often decide whether a team wins or loses the game. But what exactly does tactics in basketball mean?

The term tactics in basketball covers all the organized attacking and defensive measures used by players to achieve a certain goal in the game. Basically defensive tactics (defense) and offensive tactics (attack) can be distinguished.

In addition, a further distinction can be made between forwards tactics and team tactics: The pre-tactics describes the moves in attack and defense which are only used by certain players in a team. With the team tactics all five players will try to achieve a certain goal together at the same time.

Through the targeted use of different tactics, the team can gain decisive advantages in the basketball game, which in the end can lead to winning the match.

Basic knowledge of basketball tactics

In order to understand the tactical moves in basketball, basic terms should first be clarified. Here you will learn everything you need to know about the field, the zone and the player positions, so that you can become a tactical expert in the second step.

The playing field

Basketball is always played on a rectangular playing field with a hard surface. The playing field itself is divided by various circles, lines and zones, each of which serves a separate function. In the following infographics we have marked the most important lines and areas on the basketball court for you.

The basketball court and its lines


The zone

Basically the playing field is divided into different zones. However, only the area that is located in the white trapeze under the baskets and extends to the free-throw line is considered a so-called "zone". It plays an important role in terms of attack and defense. In the zone, players of the attacking team may not stay in it for more than three seconds without interruption. Other names for the zone are "Paint", because the area is usually marked in color, or "Key", because the shape looks a bit like a key when viewed from above.

2. The player positions
In order to understand the tactical possibilities in basketball, one should first look at the different positions of the players. Important to know: In basketball, there is no division of certain players into attack and defense, as is the case in football or handball, for example. All five players on the field must be able to master both attack and defense. Nevertheless, the field players are usually primarily responsible for one task. Since the birth of basketball, players have therefore been divided into attackers ("forwards") and defenders ("guards").

In basketball there are always five players on the field at the same time. There are also up to seven substitutes, who can change as often as desired. The starting line-up in basketball is called the starting five. Today, the five field players usually take up the positions of a centre, two forwards (wing or attacking players) and two guards (defending or build-up players). This positioning of the players is also known as 2-1-2 formation. However, other starting line-ups are also possible, for example the use of three guards.

Player positions in basketball on a court graphic


3. The Center
The center (in English "middle") is usually the biggest and physically strongest player on a basketball team. He usually stands with his back to the basket and acts mainly in the zone, i.e. directly under the basket. His goal is to get as many rebounds as possible - i.e. rebounds from the board or the ring that missed - and throw them back into the basket and block attackers.

4. The Guards
The Guards are usually the smallest and fastest players on a basketball team. They can be further divided into "Shooting Guard" and "Point Guard". The focus of the Shooting Guard is distance throws (three-point throw). The Point Guard decides when which move or tactic is started next. To do this, he must have excellent ball handling and a very good overview of the game. The position is therefore also called playmaker.

5. The Forwards
Two further positions can also be distinguished for forwards: The "Small Forward" (German: kleiner Fl├╝gelspieler) and the "Power Forward" (German: grosser Fl├╝gelspieler). Both forwards are attacking players who, like the center, act mainly in the zone and try to get as many hits as possible in the attacking area. The biggest difference between the two positions is the size of the players.

The Power Forward is bigger and plays similar to the Center with the back to the basket. He tries to get rebounds in the offensive and defensive. The Small Forward primarily focuses moves to the basket or throws from the middle distance. For him, good ball handling, speed and strong throwing skills are prerequisites.

All positions are numbered from the smallest to the biggest player. Counting starts with the smallest player with number 1 (point guard) and goes up to the biggest player with number 5 (center).

What are the basic basketball tactics?

In basketball one usually differentiates between attacking and defensive tactics. However, these can change quickly: Defense is a team's way of quickly getting back on the offensive. The general goal in basketball is to score more goals and thus more points than the opponent. Here we will introduce you to the most popular moves in attack and defense.

Defensive tactics in basketball

In basketball, the goal of the defense is to gain possession of the ball before the throw or after an unsuccessful attack attempt by the opponent. Its task is to prevent the opponent from winning the basket. Basketball players usually do this by trying to block and obstruct passes, throws and runs of the attacking team.

In basketball there are different defense systems. The most common defensive moves are usually divided into man-to-man and zone defenses.

The man-to-man defense

In the man-on-man defense or one-man defense - as the name suggests - each attacker is assigned exactly one defender. In other words, each player is assigned to a direct opponent from the opposing team whom he tries to block. From him he tries to steal the ball. Each defender is therefore always oriented towards the respective opponent.


1. The zone defense
Zone defense is a defense in which the players do not focus on a single opponent, but on a specific space or zone. Each player has the goal of defending a certain area (for example the area "front right"). If an opposing player enters this area, the defender tries to stop and block him. If he leaves the respective area again, it is the defending player's turn who is responsible for the next zone. The defending players always keep their eyes on the ball

2. Hybrid forms
Typically, many teams switch tactically between man-to-man defense and zone defense to disrupt the rhythm of the opposing team. In addition, basketball has mixed forms of defense, but teams rarely use them.

For example, a four-player basketball team can play a zone defense, while a field player defends the opposing team's ball-carrying build-up player man-to-man, thus building up pressure on him (known as "box-and-one defense"). This is useful, for example, when there is a dominant player on the opposing team.

Attack tactics in basketball

In attack, there is a wide variation of tactical moves that teams can play. The goal of the attack is always to break through the opponent's defense and allow one of the players to make a free throw. The most important techniques for this are dribbling, passing and throwing.

Quick attack versus positional play

Basically two basic tactics can be distinguished in basketball: The "early offense" and the positional play.

In the early offense, the team tries to attack as quickly as possible immediately after winning the ball and get to the basket. On the way forward, neither attacker nor defender are correctly positioned. The focus is on good and fast passes. Through the fast game the opponent should be "overrun" so to speak.

Basketball positions using the example of two basketball players on a basketball court. EVERY BASKETBALL PLAYER MUST KNOW HIS POSITION ON THE FIELD WELL. In positional play, on the other hand, the team tries to adapt more to the opponent's defense. A good line-up (positions) builds up the game. The most important thing is to move, pass and block (in man-on-man defense) or cut (in zone defense) the opponents.

But in basketball there are many more tactics. These are also known as systems. These are variations of a well-rehearsed game in which each attacker has a certain path. However, they are quite complex and have to be well rehearsed and practiced in advance. Some of these popular moves are presented below.

pick and roll

Pick and roll is a popular standard move in basketball. It is used when two attackers are leading the ball while facing two defenders.

In this tactic, the non ball-carrying attacker blocks the path of the defender who is covering the ball carrier. The attacker with the ball is then free to throw a basket or continue running towards it.

The remaining three attackers are at the same time responsible for blocking the remaining three opposing defenders.

Triangle Open

The Triangle offense is also a popular offensive strategy in basketball. Here it depends especially on a strong team feeling and good interaction of the individual players: The attackers form a triangle of three players in their formation.

This triangle is usually formed by the center, a wing player (forward) and a build-up player (guard). The players are positioned close to the basket, in a corner of the playing field next to the basket and on the wing.

This formation promotes fast passing and player movement, making it very difficult for the opposing defense to block the attackers.

Princeton open

A lesser known, but still very effective attack tactic is the Princeton offense (German: Princeton-Offensive). This tactic is characterized by a high intensity of passing and running and a deliberate avoidance of the zone close to the basket.

In a classic attacking strategy in basketball, the center player and the power forward are in close proximity to the basket. The Small Forward is usually in the middle distance to the basket and the two build-up players are at the three-point line.

The Princeton offense is different: The center player is usually at the high post line, while the other players are positioned in a semicircle around the three-point line. This forces the opposing team to defend far away from the basket. This creates a free space directly in the area under the basket. The goal of this system is to confuse the defense by dynamic passing and free running. The goal of this system is to confuse the defense by dynamic passing and free running, so that the attacker can either create an opportunity to enter this space and make an unchallenged lay-up or a free distance throw from the three-point line.


ball: Knowledge & Accessories

Now you have the necessary knowledge about strategic and tactical moves in basketball. If you want to expand your basic basketball knowledge even further, you will find everything you need to know about the most important basketball rules here - summarized for you in brief. You are guaranteed to be perfectly prepared for the next game: whether you want to throw a few baskets yourself or analyse and cheer for your favourite team!

You will also find a lot more exciting information about basketball in our magazine. If you want to convince visually when cheering or playing, you will also find the right basketball products in our magazine. Or create a creative basketball jersey of your own design directly!

We wish you much fun playing and cheering!