Basketball Tactics I This Should Help Know About The Game

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Before I got to know the ins and outs of basketball tactics, it seemed like there were just a bunch of players dribbling the ball around and chucking it for a goal. Yes, the game was chaotic for me.

But now I feel that basketball is a very strategic game. Teams are running sophisticated defense, setting up, and running multiple offensive plays.

Also, coaches on the sideline are continuously studying the game, making adjustments, and trying to outsmart the other team. So, yes, there are some tactics and strategies you must follow playing this wonderful game.

Let’s know all the tactics in a detailed way.

Basketball Tactics

What Does Tactics Mean in Basketball (Basketball Tactics)

In basketball, tactics often decide between defeat and victory. So, it plays a crucial role here. But what do tactics mean in basketball?

Well, tactics in basketball are meant as all organized measures to attack and defend, which are mainly used by players to reach an intentional conclusion. Tactics are differentiated between two types. They are:

  • Defensive tactics
  • Offensive tactics

We will talk about these two types in detail. But, worth mentioned is that a distinction can once again be made between two types:

  • Pre-Tactics

It describes the moves (in offense & defense) that are only played by certain players in a team. Team-Tactics: Hence, all five players try to reach a certain goal at the same time together.

Defensive Tactics in Basketball

In basketball, the goal of the defensive is to prevent the opponent from scoring and steal the ball or get a defensive rebound. So, how to do these?

There are three fruitful ways for defenses to be successful in the modern basketball game:

  1. Creating an opportunity for a rebound because of the offensive players to miss their shot.
  2. To disrupt the offensive play in a way that turnover occurs and allows the defensive to transition into an offensive set.
  3. To obstruct the offense to the point where they cannot pass the ball for 5 seconds or cannot take an authentic shot within a shot clock period.

In basketball, there are three different defense strategies to choose from.

Man On Man Defensive

The goal of the man-on-man defensive is to match a specific defender to a specific offensive player. So, each attacker is assigned an individual defender. The defender has to make life difficult for the opponent player.

Zone Defense

In ‘zone defense’ players focus not only on a single opponent but also on an area or zone. Each player is used to having the objective of controlling a certain area (e.g the space below the basket).

When an opposing player tries to break into this area, the defender has to try to stop and block him. If the opponent can leave the area, it’s the responsibility of the other defending player to cover that opponent.

Hybrid Defense

Hybrid defense tactic incorporates man-on-man and zone defensive at the same time. Hence, the box-and-one defense is a classic example of this tactic.

Imagine, four players are taking up assigned spots on the floor to guard a specific zone. The other player is to be assigned to personally guard one offensive player at all times.

This defensive is a very good tool to use when one of the players on the other team is exceptional at offense.

Offensive Tactics in Basketball

The goal of this tactic is to break through the opponent’s defense and set up an uncontested shot. For this, players need strong fundamentals- dribbling, passing, and shooting.

Triangle Offense

The attackers from a triangle of three players, this offense is a popular attack strategy in basketball.

This is usually formed by the center, a forward, and a guard. The players are usually positioned close to the basket (in a corner of the playing field next to the basket and on the wing).

This formation helps to promote fast passing and movement, making it very difficult for the opponent’s defense to block the attackers.

Princeton Offense

Princeton offense is a lesser-known but very effective attack setup. This formation promotes high passing and quick mobility and an avoidance of the point close to the basket.

In this defense, the center is usually located at the top of the key, while the remaining players are placed outside the three-point line. This will force the opposing team to defend far away from the basket by creating a lane in the zone for the lay-up.

So, mainly, the goal of this system is to confuse the defense by constant pass and running. That’s how the offense creates an opportunity to penetrate into this free space with a backdoor pass (to make an unchallenged shot).

Key Player Actions and Terms in Basketball

Here you go with some common terms that you’ll hear in the basketball game.

Air Ball

When an offensive shot is taken but the ball fails to make contact with the net, backboard, or rim then this airball occurs.


It occurs when an offensive player passes the ball to another offensive player, who then makes an immediate basket.


This is the foundation of the rim and it is a rectangular piece of glass. A red square to judge a shot is placed on the backboard above the rim.


When this action occurs? Well, when a defensive player stops the shot of an offensive player before it reaches the backboard or is in the cylinder.

Boxing Out

When a defensive player is near the hoop and prepared to miss a rebound shot, they use their body position to block an offensive player from rebounding a missed shot.

Double Team

When two defensive players are working to guard the same offensive player, it is called a double team. There are many more terms in the basketball game, we shared with you the most common ones.



With the right basketball tactics, you will be able to plan for a successful game. If you are a player, you need to know what your coach is asking of you. Or, if the case is that you are new to watching this game, these will help you to understand clearly what’s exactly going on. We wish you the best!


Welcome, everyone! I'm John C. Clerk Founder of Basketball Reviewer, an American living in Wurtsboro, NY. I am great fan of Basketball. I love everything about writing where my favorite topic of writing is sports basically basketball. I am father of two kids and love to play basketball with my kids, kayaking, skateboarding etc. If you would like to chat with me please feel free to reach out via facebook or twitter or email.

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