Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

4 on 4 help rotations

Drills for defending dribble penetration with help rotation, go live on a kick-out pass. The defence is forcing-left pack. Good offence creates space for baseline drives, and double and triple gaps, making it hard for defenders to help and recover. Use run and jump (or run and double).
1) Baseline drive
3) Middle drive (double gap)
4) Triple gap

See Defences - Forcing-left pack, Gap basics, Help rotations, Dave Smart weak-hand, Dave Smart rotations, Defending - Forcing-left shell, 3 on 3 kickout, DeMatha shell, Wootten horseshoe.

For help-and-recover drills, see Defending - Woodley 4 on 4, Calipari 4 on 4, Pitt 4 on 4 penetration.

1) Baseline drive

Swing the ball to 3, X2 is ballside help on a baseline drive.

Option - 1 and 4 can pass or drive and kick.

3 drives baseline, low split X2 rotates to cut off the drive, high split X1 sinks to ball level (covers down), helping the helper by taking away a pass to 2, X4 rotates to high split.

When X2 calls "switch" or "help" (committing to a help rotation), X3 peels off to the find the open attacker in X4's direction, here 4.

All defenders are matched up, a four-man rotation.

Variation - X3 stays to double-team 3 if he is long enough to influence a pass, then X4 has first pass to 1 or 4 and X3 has leftovers.

Dave Smart - if X3 is big, stay and trap, if he's small, release early.

Dean Smith - X2 stops 3 from getting into the lane, traps with X3 (the baseline is a good place to trap), X1 helps the helper, X4 jams back, on a pass out of the double-team, each defender returns to his original man. An option when X2 stops 3 is that X3 goes right on through to pick up 2.

Youth teams can use a simple two-player help-and-stay rotation in most help situations. The defender who gets beat calls "help", a help defender calls "switch", and the two defenders switch checks (run and jump).

3 kicks the ball weakside to 2 or 1 and gets back to the wing.


- 3 passes to a coach on the baseline, who passes to 2, see Rebounding - Oakland closeout
- put the ball down, attackers also rotate one spot.

Re-set and repeat three times, the next time X2 stops the drive, it's live on the kick-out pass.

See Defence - Forcing-left pack, also Defending - Woodley post.

Progression - live on the first drive and kick.

Swing the ball to 3 for a baseline drive, 4 can fill behind the drive and 2 drift to the corner. X3 will take 4, even if 3 is double-teamed.

Variation - whoever gets the kick-out pass has to catch and shoot, play to a stop or score.
Dave Smart - the dribble attack causes a long closeout by X1 if 2 is a shooter (it's a short closeout if he can't shoot). Close out long to take away shot, he cannot go right, it's a blow-by left.

See Rebounding - Thunder, 4 on 4 closeout, Oakland closeout, also Defending - 4 on 4 shell.up

2) Outside drive

X2 denies shooter 2 (or stunts), or is not yet in gap position, or there is a double-gap between 1 and 2.

1 drives outside, X3 cuts it off and calls "switch", X4 covers down on 3, live on a kick-out, X1 takes 4.

Low weakside X3 is the defender of last resort if 1 drives outside or middle (see below).

Dean Smith - X2 moves his feet to help stop penetration while keeping 2 in sight, then recovers on a pass to 2 (help and get back).

Greg Francis - don't help off the strong-side corner, help comes from the help side with the same rotations as a baseline drive (X3-X4-X1 switch checks).

Brett Brown - X3 helps from low weakside, with a v-back from high weakside X4, everyone goes back to their own on a pass.

Dave Smart - help never comes from the strong-side (X2 is bluffing), X3 helps, X4 drops, X1 releases and might get to 4 before a catch.
Toronto Raptors Gap Switch (YouTube) - if X2 helps, X1 switches to take 2.

See Defending - 4 on 3 cover down, YouTube videos - Brett Brown cutthroat defense drill, 3 vs 2 drive and kick (with shooting).up

3) Middle drive

1 passes to 2 and corner cuts (or basket cuts and clears weakside), creating a double gap for 2.

Bob Hurley - X1 traps with X2.


2 starts in the corner,

- 1-2 low dribble hand-off
- 1-2 dribble-drive kickup and corner cut.


2 drives middle, high-split X4 stops the drive, calls "switch" or "help" and stays with 2, X3 takes first pass to 4 or 3, X2 has leftovers, it's live.

Variation - X4 stays with 2, X2 runs through to take 4, a two-player rotation, X1 and X3 stay with their checks (see Toronto Raptors Gap Switch).


- 4 drives outside
- swing the ball to 3 who drives baseline.

Mike Fratello - X4 cuts off the drive, X3 rotates to 4, X2 rotates to 3.

Chris Oliver - three-player rotation - X4 stops the drive, X3 covers first pass, X2 (who got beat) covers second pass.

Dave Smart - X4 helps and stays, X3 takes a pass to 4, X2 is gone to cover 3. X4 calls helps when he commits to the ball so much that he can longer cover his guy. If a weak guy is attacking, X3 will shoot the gap trying to get a steal. If 4 is a rightie shooter, it's a long closeout, take away shot and he can't go right, it's a blow-by left (here outside, see 2 above).

Mike Longabardi - Go switch - X4 rotates to take the ball on a blow-by, X2 runs to take 4.

Greg Frances - four-man rotation, X1 takes 3, X2 takes 1 (5 on 5 option - help from a ballside post defender, no help from weakside).

See Defending - Fratello 3 on 3 drive and kick, YouTube videos - Three-player rotation on a defensive X-out, What is a defensive X-out.up

b) X3 helps

2 drives left, beats X2 and X4, X3 stops the drive, X4 covers down on 3, live on a kick-out pass, X2 will take 4.
Morgan Wootten - X4 should stop 2 before he penetrates the scoring area, if X4 can't get there in time, he should seal off the wing area, and X3 should stop the dribbler.

Dave Smart - if X3 helps, 2 could pass to 3 with his right hand. Help would come from a ballside low post.

See Defending - Wootten horseshoe.

Variation - Two-player rotation

X2 runs through to take 3, X4 stays with 4, e.g. X4 only stunts at 2 if 4 is an early matchup, or if it's easier for X2 to take 3 since his momentum is in that direction and X4 may be moving towards the ball.
A stunt at 2 is not full-body help, X4 deters a middle drive but wants X2 to recover. Make 2 think that X4 is leaving his check, but he's not, he's buying X2 a second to get back, and X4 has to recover on a pass to 4.
Dave Waknuk - Force-left defence - if X4 is denying 4, X2 peels to take a pass to 3.up

c) Trap and rotate out

2 is an early matchup (best offensive player), X2 calls "early", X4 helps on the first dribble and double-teams with X2, X3 takes first pass to 4 or 3, it's live, X4 rotates out (has leftovers), keeping X2 matched up with 2.

Variation - X4 stays with 2, X2 rotates out, see 3(a) above.

See Defence - Help rotations (Randy Sherman), Chaser, Defending - Spurs shift and close.

4) Triple gap

4 corner cuts to create a triple gap for 1.

Variation - 1 passes to 4 and corner cuts to create a triple gap.

1 attacks a triple gap, X3 stops the drive and stays with 1, X1 runs through to take 3, it's live.

This is another two-player run and jump.

Option - X1 forces 1 to the crowded side of the floor.up

This page was made with Basketball playbook from Jes-Soft

2007-20 Eric Johannsen coacheric53@gmail.com