It's been extremely interesting to watch how the game of basketball has evolved over the past few years. Very few traditional "post" players are playing with their backs to the basket; instead they are all out setting high ball screens 25 feet from the basket. There are as many "pick and pop" guys as there are "pick and roll" guys.
However, post play is not dead by any means. More and more guards are flashing to the ball, finding themselves inside and posting up.
It used to be one guy handled the ball, another guy shot it, and a couple other guys posted up. Now, everyone is handling the ball to some degree and nearly everyone needs to be able to score inside.
With that in mind, here are 7 principles of scoring in the post:
1. Be opportunistic. The first principle of scoring in the post is simply to get into the post! Almost all motion types of offenses provide opportunities to back cut or flash into the low post area for the player who is looking for them. One of the best ways to get established inside is off the break in transition - just run directly to the front of the rim and post up before the defense is in position to provide help.
2. Use both hands and feet. Playing off both feet allows the player in the post to be more explosive, to pivot in either direction away from the defense, and to utilize effective ball fakes. The ability and willingness to use either hand lets the offensive scorer protect the shot with his offhand instead of exposing the ball to potential shot blockers. This is especially important for guards, wings, and smaller post players.
3. Get stronger. Most of the other principles discussed here are practically useless if your defender can overpower you and push you off your spot. Not only that, but playing inside and having someone leaning on you is extremely tiring. (Think of a wrestling match!) Getting stronger will not only help you score inside but will also keep you on the court instead of on the bench.
4. Make first contact. The player who makes first contact in the post is usually the one who gains the advantage for that possession. Why? Because that first contact can force the opponent in one direction or another. The offensive player who "hits" his defender first can then get low, use some leverage, and pin the defender on his back. The defensive player who makes first contact can prevent the offense from getting into an effective scoring position.
5. Recognize the defense. This should be easy after making first contact. If the defender is on the high side the post move is made to the baseline. If the defender is on the low side then the move should be made towards the middle. If the defender is straight behind then the offense should continue to back up until he can feel that the defense has established a dominant side - then get the ball and move in the opposite direction.
6. Develop a "go to" move and a counter. You don't need a dozen or more different post moves when trying to score inside. Instead you need one good move to the baseline and one to the middle. Most players prefer turning over their opposite shoulder when executing their "go to" move. Add a good ball fake to each move and your scoring arsenal has quickly doubled!
7. Get to the free throw line. There are some great inside scorers who actually score very few points close to the basket. How? By drawing fouls on their defenders and then scoring from the free throw line. A player with the ability to repeatedly initiate contact and get fouled will soon find himself being guarded by a bench player. When that happens it should be even easier to score inside. Regardless of your size and official "position", if you follow these 7 principles of scoring in the post you're going to find your points per game increase dramatically.