Beating the pressure of three blitzing linebackers in football takes strength, quickness, guts and ability. If you don’t have those things, despite your good intentions and great attitude, you could get knocked to the turf all night long. But in basketball, no one is allowed to knock anyone down, and no one is even allowed to bump you.
In other words, basketball pressure is mostly hype, a bluff. It’s false advertising, a sort of “Hurry! Act Now! Supply Limited!” with the warehouse full and no one buying. Basketball pressure is a ruse, a fraud to get you nervous and disorient you so that you make a mistake.
Do you understand that fully? They run around and wave their arms, and sometimes they even run at you with two or three guys, leaving people wide open everywhere just to get you to think you are in a game with blitzing linebackers. They have to make you think you can get knocked to the turf when they know that even their own coach told them, “Don’t touch them. Don’t foul.”
To get a team to apply good pressure, a coach has to do a selling job. “If you guys do this (overplay, get close, wave your arms),” he promises, “they will make a mistake. Just watch and see.”
But players aren’t easily sold. Every day in practice, their second team scores layups against that same pressure. Everyday in drills, their second team gets the ball upcourt many times. So why should they believe the coach? How can he be sure a group of first-teamers won’t do what the second team does—and even better?
Isn’t it true that almost anyone can bring the ball upcourt on another man, one-on-one? Even a center with the aid of a few reverse dribbles will get the ball upcourt on the quickest defensive guard almost every time in practice. And nearly everyone can get away from another man to receive a pass or go backdoor after a few seconds. One man just can’t stop one man at anything. Players know that. So, why is pressure supposed to work?
It isn’t. And it won’t. Unless you let it. Unless you get nervous and start treating waving arms like blitzing linebackers. The answer to beating pressure is to remain calm and strong. Keep your objectives firmly in mind: make decisive moves; come to crisp, sharp stops; throw short, snappy passes; run quickly wherever you go.
Pressure doesn’t begin being effective until you start thinking about stringing moves together, taking two more dribbles, throwing lob passes and getting short rests. As long as you are thinking strong, you should play strong. You may throw a pass away now and then, just as you can anytime. But pressure will not bother you if you realize that (1) they are waiting for you to make a mistake, and (2) a mistake will usually come at the end of a tentative, strung-out play, not at the end of a brisk fake, two strong dribbles, a quick stop and a short, snappy pass.
From Dick’s book Stuff