Run and Jump
A reader recently asked for some information on the run and jump defense. I’ll cover the basics of the fullcourt run and jump here and will include the best resource I know of for learning the run and jump.
The next two posts will cover two different versions of the run and jump that can be run out of a half court defense.
The run and jump is a great way to disrupt offensive rhythm and timing (as well as create turnovers) for fundamentally sound, active, and aware defensive teams. The biggest advantages of the run-and-jump:
1. It provides the advantages of man-to-man defense along with the advantages of the zone (traps). At the same time, the run and jump doesn’t suffer from the same breakdowns that zone traps will suffer from time to time, because it’s true formation is man-to-man.
2. When run well, it can be difficult for the opponent to know when the traps are coming. This can result in traps occurring when the offense isn’t set up in a press-break alignment.
3. Another result is that the offense may become tentative and play out of rhythm if it starts to anticipate the possible trap. Tempo is one of the most important, least understood,and underestimated factors in winning basketball games. If a run and jump defense is successful at disrupting the opponent’s tempo, it should be considered successful even if it doesn’t directly cause any turnovers.
Good run and jump defenses are judicious with their traps. Essentially, they stay in -an aggressive man-to-man defense (focused on getting the ball back) – and apply great pressure on the ball.
- The defense only springs the traps when the ballhandler starts to dribble out of control (i.e.., too fast, with his/her head down, more focused on advancing the ball than on orchestrating the offense). One way to identify/define when to trap the dribble is by trapping only after the on-ball defender turns the dribbler – forces the ballhandler to change directions with the dribble.
- The closest off-ball defender (2 in the diagram below leaves her assignment and springs the trap This cues the 3 off-ball defenders to follow zone trapping principles to defend the 4 potential offensive pass receivers.
- If the defense doesn’t force a turnover, then it falls back and recovers into man-to-man.
Running this type of Run and Jump requires a great deal of team awareness – to recognize when to trap and, most importantly, when to rotate to provide zone coverage. Because of the level of awareness required, teams without much experience running the defense can miss out on trap opportunities, or miss rotations and give up easy layups.
To develop the on-ball defensive toughness needed to spearhead a run-and-jump defense, I like to run the zigzag defensive drill – but competitively with a goal of turning the ballhandler 3 times in the backcourt. This is a very difficult but achievable standard to set for the defense. Individually, the best way to pressure the ball and force turnovers in the fullcourt is to turn the ballhandler as many times as possible.
- Turning the ballhandler might cause the ballhandler to lose vision of the floor, creating fantastic trap opportunities for run and jump teams.
- On a side note – this is why, unless you are Magic Johnson, it is not a good idea to perform spin moves or reverse dribbles in the backcourt – they cause the ballhandler to lose floor vision and increase the odds that he’ll be surprised by an aggressive trap.
When used judiciously and taught well, the run and jump is one of the best tools at a coach’s disposal for disrupting tempo, creating confusion, and putting the opponent on their heels.
Coach Jim Larranaga of George Mason University is arguably the best teacher around of run and jump concepts, which he uses very effectively in his well-known Scramble Defense. Even before leading the Patriots to the 2006 final four (accomplished largely through the defensive disruptions cause by his players’ efforts and the Scramble), Coach Larranaga has been a highly respected coach and an excellent teacher of the game. Any of Larranaga’s DVDs on the Scramble are fantastic and highly recommended for coaches looking for more information on run-and-jump style defenses. Check the DVDs out by clicking on the link below
Here is an animation of a basic run and jump sequence: