“Special Teams” Situations: Key Tips and Plays for Free Throws and Baseline Inbounding

By taking advantage of baseline inbound plays and missed free throws, basketball teams at every level can creatively attack the basket and pick up extra points. Follow along as Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo reveals some of his key strategies for free throw situations and under-the-basket inbounds plays, including three different looks using the same play.

Free Throw Strategies

Start by getting two offensive players lined up inside their typical lane blocks during a free throw situation. With this strategy, look to get one player cutting in hard to the middle of the paint area, while the opposite player is spinning behind his inside defensive counterpart.

Make sure that the players give a signal about what they plan to do. The key here is to do something aggressive in order to get to the ball. It doesn’t matter if both players come to the middle or to the outside, they just can’t stand there. The overall goal is to get one basket out of this strategy per game.

Backcourt Players: As for the guys behind the free throw line, align one player to the side wing area just beyond the three-point line. As the shot is taken, there will be a signal by the two inside guys. The backcourt players must recognize this.

If the backcourt player’s teammate on the same side is going in hard to the middle, then he/she will cut toward the basket fast on an angle to fill that vacated area. It’s key that all five players do something aggressive to get to the rim. Also, don’t forget that your players can’t move until the ball hits the rim.


Baseline Out of Bounds Plays

Chips: Set 1 – Coach Izzo likes to run this baseline out of bounds play out of different sets.

The Set-up: Start by setting up two big guys on the low blocks and then two smaller players stacked just above the free throw line. Get your best shooter as the first guy in the stacked group. The two block guys start by popping out to their respective corners. Next, the first shooter cuts down and the guard behind him cuts back beyond the top of the key.

Player Movements: Now, let’s say the ball is passed to the ballside corner guy. From there, he quickly reverses it to the top of the key guard. When this happens, have the first shooter screen for the inbounder. Next, get the former ballside block player to screen down for the first shooter. This shooter can now pop out to the corner/side for a catch and shot.

Notes: This play involves a bit of inside and outside action. Pay particular attention to the options for the inbounder as he’s cutting through the lane. He can go low or high and the point guard up top should be looking for him as he cuts through the lane.

Also, when the pass goes from the point guard down to the corner shooter, the shooter has the option to dump it down to his former screener for a layup chance. It all depends on how the defense plays it. Of course, the shooter can also just rip that jumper if open.


Chips: Line Set

For this set, get in a stacked line on the lane line ballside. Here, the two bigs cut to opposite corners and the point guard pops back — just like before. It’s essentially the same play just from a different set. So why is this so effective? It’s not as confusing for players and you can get more plays in since the end result is very similar.

Chips: Box Set

This box set is great for those times when teams are overplaying. Once again, everything is the same except for the starting set.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Tom Izzo: Winning Dead Ball Situations.” To check out more videos featuring special situations and inbounds plays, head over to our basketball DVD library

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