The Pump-Fake

August 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Top_10_NBA_Fake_Plays (1)

Basic Description: One of the most effective yet simple moves in basketball. A must-have move for every single player — no other move replicates its usage. Also known as a shot fake.

How to do the move: This move is simple to do, and hard to master.

  1. Go through your normal shooting motion. Legs bent, eyes on the rim.
  2. Once the defender rises or jumps to contest your shot, quickly bring the ball down and either blow by them or, in some cases, shoot (if they jump ‘past’ you, or if you want to draw a foul).
  3. If they don’t jump or rise, just shoot the ball. You’re open.

Keys to an effective pump fake:

  • Be a good shooter. Defenders will be more likely to jump.
  • Have a sudden shot. The suddenness will draw an involuntary jumping reaction.
  • Mimic your actual shot as closely as possible.
  • Quick reflexes. Sometimes you actually intend to shoot, and need to stop yourself suddenly. Often, these are the most effective pump fakes.
  • Your shooting form should involve a smooth bend-and-rise motion. Seeing you rise causes the defender to jump just as much as seeing the ball go up.

Training your Pump Fake: See here for great drills to train your pump fake.

Why the move works: A defender is most vulnerable when standing straight up. The pump fake is one of the easiest ways to get the defender standing straight.

When to use it: Whenever there is a realistic chance you will shoot (varies depending on your shooting ability), especially when the defender is in recovery mode.

This move is highly effective in a triple threat position. If you have a fast shot, you only need the tiniest of windows to shoot. Pump fake to see the defender gives you that window — if he does, shoot. If he doesn’t (i.e. he jumps in the air), drive by him.

Some coaches teach you to never bring the ball higher than chest level when pump faking — i.e. use a small pump fake. I find this true when the defender is in recovery mode, but if the defender is focused and in position, raising the ball higher is often more effective.

One of my favorite moves is to pump fake slowly twice, pause, and then quickly rise for the shot. The change-of-pace makes the defender think the shot is real, and not a pump fake, and completely jump out of their pants. Wide open, easy layup.

See the move:

Nowitizki beautiful pump fake.


Steve Novak pump fake — notice how sudden his ‘rise’ is


Jeremy Lin pump fake. His shooting stance is dead on, and his eyes are pinned to the basket when performing the pump fake.



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