Getting open

Getting open

Footwork is the key to getting open. Going into the subject a little deeper; it is about misdirection, body positioning, and deception. Here are a few pieces of footwork that can help you get open to get the ball or get an easy basket.


Cutting is all about body position, footwork, and misdirection. Use misdirection by taking a few slow steps in one direction then going hard in the other direction. Or, a player can fake a hard step in one direction getting the defender to jump, then going the opposite direction. Play with this and be creating, the key is to get the defender to think you are going to one thing…then you do the other. Whether it is playing pick-up or in a game, cutting is important. It keeps the floor balanced, it causes defenders to help, and in the case of running your team’s offense…it often sets up the timing needed for the offense to be successful.


Front cut

  This is done by simply cutting in front of your defender. This forces the defender to be in a bad position being stuck behind you. This is the type of cut you would see on a “give and go”. This can be set-up by taking a couple slow steps in the opposite direction of where you are going, then cutting HARD in front of the defender.


Back cut 

This is done by cutting behind your defender. If a defender is watching the ball and not you, it may give you a perfect opportunity to cut behind them in the brief instant they look away.



 This is when a player suddenly sprints from one are to another in order to receive the ball.


Iverson cut

Sometimes called a “shallow-cut”, this cut was made famous by Allen Iverson. This cut is down by a wing player who starts on the wing outside the 3 point line and runs hard across court dipping down to approximately the level of the foul line, then popping out at the opposite 3 point line.



A v-cut is generally used in the open court to inbound the ball, or by a player trying to catch the ball on the wing or top of the key, when a defender is denying them the ball. For this example we will imagine a swingman is on the right wing trying to pop out to the three point line to catch the ball. To execute a v-cut this player will walk right up to and into their defender placing their inside (right) foot in front of that player. At the same time they step in front of the defender they should place put their thigh and butt into the defender, then push off that right foot hard to pop out to the three point line.


Seal Pivot 

This is done by taking a step into your defender and keeping him behind you, almost like you are boxing them out, in order for you to receive the ball.


UCLA cut

  This is a screen/cut run by many teams at all levels around the world. A UCLA cut is initiated when a guard passes the ball to the wing. One of the teams big men will be planted on the elbow on the side the ball was passed to. After the guard passes the ball to the wing they will then run off the screen being set by the big man on the elbow. Sometimes this can lead to an easy lay-up for the guard. What is often more likely to happen is the point guard will catch the pass from the wing after their cut, which forces the other big man’s defender to help…which results in a simple pass form the cutting guard to the guy that defender was guarding, and an easy hoop.


European Cut

  A European cut is similar to a dribble weave. One player drives toward the basket, in this example we’ll assume the player is driving from the left wing down the middle of the lane. When that player drives, their teammate who is performing the European cut, the one performing the European cut should come from the right wing and cross just behind their driving teammate.

Using and setting screens

Using Screens: Screens are one of the best and most often used ways to get open or to get a shot off. A screen is going to be basically the same regardless of the different “types” of screen you hear about (i.e. fade screen, down screen, etc.). A screen is set by one teammate for another. The “screener” is the person setting the screen. The screener must plant their feet and not move their body into the defense. Because the screener is unable to move, it is up to the player using the screen to run their defender into the screen. First the offensive player using the screen should “set-up” the screen. Setting up a screen can be done in several ways. This can be done by faking one way prior to going the other, or by walking the defender to the level of the screen before coming off it. When finally arriving at the screen, the offensive player should get into a position that is low and explosive…it should be a position in which they are ready to explode out of. (Some coaches teach players to “grab ankles”, this means the player getting screen should get low enough to grab the ankle of the screener.) Additionally, the player should just barely make contact or “brush” the screener. Brushing the screener assures that there is not enough space for the defender to squeeze through. For more advanced information on screens, screening, and other screening related topics check out the moves and the miscellaneous sections.