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Film Room Volume 1: Winning the Battle of Balance

November 9, 2017


Every basketball game features hundreds of small, individual battles. The accumulation of these battles decides the overall game. In this series--“Film Room”--I’ll show you how the best offensive players in the world consistently win the game within the game.  Today, it’s all about when you have the ball in your hands.


The key is manipulating the balance of your defender. 90% of the time, whoever wins the game of balance and leverage will win the battle. Specifically, here's two ways you can win the battle of balance. 


1) Get the Defender on his Heels

Blake Griffin isn’t known as an exceptional 1 on 1 player. But he often employs my favorite move of all time: What I call the "Jab Shake."



You should feel honored that I’m willing to divulge the secret behind the "Jab Shake" because it’s probably my favorite triple threat move. It's been my go-to move ever since Jeremy Russotti (@JeremyRussotti) taught it to me a few years ago. 


Watch it again, it starts as a traditional jab step. Once Griffin squares up, he jabs hard to the side. Instead of pushing off and stepping across his body--like a normal jab step--he fakes it. Griffin twists his core muscles and shifts his hips to the left to sell the fake then continues to the right.

The best part is that this move can be made so fast that the defender’s naturally reaction is to lean back and lose his balance. Watch the defender as he takes a tiny hop backward. That's enough to win the battle. Griffin gets leverage and finishes in a way that very few can. Remember, a defender on his heels is a dead man. 


2) Make the Defender Turn His Hips

Another great way to manipulate your defender’s stability is to make him turn his hips. A defender who is forced to turn his hips and sprint to catch up is incredibly vulnerable to a change of direction move, pull up or step back. 


Here’s the catch. You can’t be sprinting full speed. Otherwise, your change of direction will be just as slow as his. Thus, you have to make your defender sprint, without actually sprinting yourself. Easier said than done. 


Here are two examples: 

Look how James Harden is able to turn Jimmy Butler’s hips. Butler is in a full sprint toward the basket as Harden takes his dribble. Harden recognizes that and stops on a dime, executing a reverse pull back through his legs. Look how much space he creates with that move. Brilliant.



Now, this is by no means an easy shot--but the point remains. Harden won the battle of balance by forcing Butler to turn his hips and sprint. Importantly, he did so by only taking one hard dribble. Had Butler not turned to sprint, Harden would’ve been able to continue all the way to the basket. 


Watch this next clip as Damian Lillard turns Shannon Brown’s hips. Lillard refuses the screen and takes a hard downhill dribble. Since Lillard beats Brown on the crossover, Brown has to turn and sprint to catch up. As soon as he does, he’s finished.



Great move. Lillard won the battle with that first crossover that caught Brown by surprise and made him turn his hips to catch up. From that point, Lillard could stop his momentum much faster than his defender and get a clean look at the basket. 

There are a bunch of ways to get your defender off balance. This is just a taste. With more Film Room’s to come, I'd love to hear your comments. What topic do you want me to analyze next?

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