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Great footwork is essential to the success of any player. On the perimeter, a player who faces up strong, understands the importance of North-South movement, has an explosive first step, can attack the defense without traveling and with vision and balance, has a huge advantage in creating scoring opportunities for him/herself or for teammates. I have often described offensive basketball from the perimeter in terms of a race, and players who understand that analogy have an even greater advantage against their defender.

I am going to focus on a player’s footwork prior to beginning the race from the initial establishment of a pivot foot. When it comes to pivot foot philosophy, we teach establishing a primary pivot foot at the IBTA. Simply put, a right hand player will always use his left foot, and a left handed player will always use his right foot, as their anchor or pivot foot. The alternative philosophy would be to establish your inside foot as your anchor or pivot foot. Your pivot foot would then change, depending on what direction you approach the ball.


I am a firm believer in keeping the game simple so that players can play and react without hesitation. That advantage is huge in a game where speed is crucial and turnovers are costly. In watching the game today, I am amazed at the number of traveling violations that go uncalled at the college and pro level where players are allowed to shift their pivot foot before putting the ball on the floor. The high school level is not so forgiving in this regard. Traveling will be consistently called on the player who shifts his pivot foot; therefore, the certainty of a player’s footwork is paramount. I firmly believe primary pivot players travel far less than inside pivot players because the footwork is simple and consistent. I also believe that this simplicity affords a player much more of a benefit than not traveling. A player who consistently reps, reps, reps as a primary pivot player becomes so comfortable with his/her feet that the result is a player who is very comfortable, skilled, effective and efficient at attacking the defense in both directions. After all, mastering one foot is easier than two.

We teach our students at the Academy that an explosive first step (EFS) is the primary building block in their fundamental foundation. Our students, from an early age (7), are constantly drilled on this single point until it becomes an instinctive part of their game. It is my belief that a player is most explosive coming off of the foot opposite of his shooting hand. It is simply more natural. We teach our students to attack the defender’s foot, creating enough explosive distance to clear the defender’s shoulder, making a defensive step-slide recovery ineffective. That extra distance that a primary pivot foot player creates on his/her first step puts the defense at an even greater disadvantage, and opens up more effective scoring and passing opportunities. The one thing I have learned in studying the game for quite a number of years is that there are advantages and disadvantages in every philosophy and in every game plan, and that the key to being successful, is to make sure the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. That is a pretty good test for any student of the game who is deciding which philosophy is best.