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Handling Double Teams: Making Smart Decisions

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    Sports Tips

Handling Double Teams: Making Smart Decisions


Double teams are one of the most challenging defensive strategies that small forwards can face on the court. This vexing tactic requires not just raw talent but a deep understanding of basketball IQ, spatial awareness, and smart decision-making. Let's dive into the strategies that will help you not just survive but thrive when faced with this defensive onslaught.

Recognize the Double Team Early

The first step in beating a double team is to recognize it early:

  • Peripheral Vision: Always maintain awareness of your surroundings. Make use of your peripheral vision to spot defenders moving towards you before they fully commit.

  • Cues and Signals: Understand the cues and signals of an impending double team. Often, you'll see a second defender inching closer as you receive the ball or start your dribble.

  • Pre-Game Preparation: Study game film. Recognizing team tendencies will help you anticipate when a double team is coming.

Efficient Passing

Once you spot the double team, your next move is to pass out effectively:

Types of Passes

Type of PassDescriptionBest Used When
Chest PassDirect and powerful, executed with both hands from chest level.The passing lane is clear and you're not under immediate pressure.
Bounce PassA pass that hits the floor before reaching the receiver.When defenders have their hands up.
Overhead PassA pass thrown from above the head, often with two hands.Over taller defenders or when there's an aggressive reach-in.
Wraparound PassA pass swung around the defender's body.When you're tightly guarded, and it's your only option.

Passing Tips

  • Fake and Pass: Use head fakes and ball fakes to create passing lanes.

  • Pass to the Right Player: Ideally, pass to a player who is in a better position to exploit the defense—either a shooter, a cutter, or an open big man.

Creating Space

Creating space is vital when handling a double team:


  1. Pivoting: Use your pivot foot to maneuver around defenders, creating just enough space to make a pass or take a shot.

  2. Step-Back Dribble: A quick step-back dribble can help you gain space by pulling you back and away from the pressuring defenders.

  3. Spin Move: Execute a controlled spin move to evade the double team while keeping the ball protected.

Off the Ball

If you're off the ball and sense a double team forming:

  • Cut to the Basket: This often draws the attention of one or both defenders, disrupting their formation.
  • Find the Open Spot: Move to an unoccupied area of the court to give the ball handler a safe passing option.

Mental and Physical Preparation


  • Stay Calm: Panic leads to mistakes. Keep a cool head to make the right decisions under pressure.

  • Trust Your Teammates: Know that your teammates are working to get open and will support you.


  • Conditioning: High energy and endurance levels enable you to withstand the aggressive nature of double teams.

  • Strength Training: Upper body strength helps you hold your ground and make strong, accurate passes under pressure.


Handling double teams as a small forward requires a combination of skill, strategy, and situational awareness. By recognizing the defense early, making smart passes, creating space efficiently, and staying mentally and physically prepared, you can turn the tables and capitalize on these situations. Remember, the double team is not just an adversary but an opportunity to outwit the defense and make impactful plays.

Happy hooping! 🚀🏀