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.


The Shammgod

July 29, 2015 § Leave a comment


Basic Description: A flashy, risky, higher level move. Rarely used in competitive games except off pick and rolls. Key to the move is the quick, blinding footwork. Called the Shammgod for one of its earliest ambassadors, former NBA player God Shammgod.

How to do the move: The move can be done with either hand, but assume we’re starting with the ball in the right hand.

  1. Give yourself some room; be at least three-point distance (give or take) away.
  2. You will now do two things simultaneously:
    1. Lightly “drop” the ball forward with your right hand. Some find it helpful to do this underhanded. Do not pound the rock into the ground — the reason you ‘drop’ it lightly is so you have slightly more time to pull off the move.
    2. Take a short, choppy step forward with your left foot.
  3. Shortly after the ball leaves your hand, you will again do two things simultaneously:
    1. Reach your left arm across the body to get the ball.
    2. Take a long step forward with your right foot. At this point, your legs should be split pretty far apart, and you should be leaning low, as if you’re going to drive to the basket.
  4. Quickly and suddenly “snatch” the ball back to your left with your left hand. You should now see an opening to drive and score.

Why the move works: The defender is distracted, and “frozen” by the blinding quick footwork. He is on his toes, and when you reach over to grab the ball, he overreacts and flies towards the ball, leaving an easy “snatch” and cutback for the offense.

Keys to the move: Quick and sudden footwork, hard lean towards the ball, extended legs and arm to appear as “long” as possible

When to use it: The defender is standing relatively upright, is giving you some space, and may not be entirely focused. For example, a point guard coming off a pick and roll will generally have space if the defending big man does not hedge. In this case, the defending big man must also account for the rolling offensive big man, so he can’t devote his full attention to the point guard.

This move does not work too well out of triple-threat stance, as defenders tend to be most focused then. You can try to shake the focus of a single defender by doing some other flashy moves beforehand (see below).

See the move:

The move from God Shammgod himself


Lamar Odom sick Shammgod


Shammgod with a counter cross (deadly!) — best shammgod I’ve ever seen (full video here)


Shammgod in the NBA — notice how it’s often used off screens where there’s more space

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