Receiving the Ball
When making the move to get open, whether it is across the key, down the lane, or when the ball is coming to the strong side, the "catch and score" play is ideal. If timing is perfect and the passer is ready when the move is made, the player, playing the post, may be able to catch the basketball and proceed directly into a move to the basket. However, the passer is not always ready, nor is he or she always confident enough to release the ball. Therefore, in many cases, the post player must hold low-post position and wait for the pass. To make things worse, the longer it takes for the passer to pass, the more advantage the defender has.
In the catch and score, the defender is usually a step behind the offense. However, when the offensive player becomes stationary, the defender regains position, can better project when the pass will be made, and goes for the steal.
There are basically three ways the defender can play a stationary post: in front (between the ball and the offensive player), on the side, or behind. Therefore, the offensive post must learn three countertactics in order to be open to receive the pass: the seal, the rapid slide, and the foot war.
Because of the amount of room to work with, a defender, if bent on getting between the ball and the offensive post player, will be able to do so. Some may view that as a bad thing. But if the offense is trained to pass the ball to the strong-side elbow in this situation, this defensive tactic may well work against the defender; when the pass is made from the wing to the high post, the offensive player can "seal" the defender away from the key and be wide open with a clear path to the basket.
For effective execution of the seal, just before the ball is passed to the high post, the offensive player quickly spins on the back of the fronting defender, maintaining contact and keeping the upper arms parallel to the floor and the hands toward the ceiling, called an "arm bar" (see figure 5.15).
We call this the "arm bar" position. The proactive spin (turning before the ball is passed to the elbow), initiates contact and increases the chance of the post player sealing the defender. To help matters, keeping the arms in the arm bar position prevents the player from illegally arm-hooking the defender. When spinning, the player is concentrating on keeping the defender from going over the top.
To help ensure the safe reception of the ball, the offensive player must not leave too soon. Premature departure from the seal helps the defender get in between the ball and the player. If the player leaves when the basketball is almost directly in front of her, and then leaps to it, the defender is rendered hopeless. As a general rule, it is better to leave too late than too soon.
The importance of the seal in individual post work as well as in team play cannot be overemphasized. Defenders who get burned by the seal are more likely to concede good low-post position. In addition, when the seal is used, weak-side defensive players must often get involved, which opens up opportunities on the weak side if the ball is passed there. Sealing should be an integral part of an offensive post player’s moves to get open and should also be an integral part of the team offense.