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The Low-Post Salsa


Moves and countermoves


Scoring the ball in isolation situations is all about reading the defense and deploying the right moves and countermoves. Nowhere is this more evident than in the low post, where these multiple options differentiate the graceful bigs who rely on guile from the man-mountains surviving on size alone. A prime example of the former is Hakeem Olajuwon, who gave defenders fits with his plethora of moves, essentially forcing them to pick their poison.


Move: Olajuwon’s most basic finish was the jump hook into the paint, where he initiates contact and moves into the lane from the middle, unfurling a hook shot to avoid the outstretched arms of the defensive player. This can often be used at the start of games where the defender is playing you loose, to test out your tendencies.


Countermove 1: The best countermoves are often the simplest. The easiest option here is to replicate the same move than jump-stopping into the lane and faking the finish. As the defender is more likely to react based on your previous finish, you can fake the shot, step through and complete an up-and-under finish.


Countermove 2: With these repeated forays into the paint, the defender will usually try to overplay you to deny you the jump-stop into the middle. If you spot the defender doing this, you can immediately spin baseline, going in the opposite direction to throw the defender off-balance and finishing with a lay-up.


Countermove 3: If you are able to pull these moves off successfully, the defender is likely to adopt a low and balanced defensive stance to absorb contact and prevent drives in either direction. This gives you the space to take a turn-around or fadeaway jumper, leaving the defender too far away to make a realistic challenge.


Of course, these moves and countermoves are predicated on your ability to make these shots on a consistent basis. If you practice repeatedly until you are able to do so, you will find that these options are merely the tip of the iceberg, and there are many more variations you can employ in reading and reacting to how the defense plays you.