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Basketball Isolation Plays

What is an isolation play? What are the types of isolation plays you should know. Get ready to learn about isolations in basketball.

Isolation Play In Basketball

Isolation plays, also known as ISO plays, are offensive plays designed to create one-on-one game situations. Utilizing a team's best player, ISO plays are great in the end game when there is little time left on the game clock in the 4th quarter. Every coach should use some form of isolations in their playbook.

Basketball Isolation Play

Pros Of Isolation Plays

There are lots of advantages to isolation plays and why they are effective in a basketball game. Here are the reasons why ISO plays should be in your playbook:

  • Your best player, who you trust to execute the shot, gets the ball.
  • You control the pace of the defense by making it a one-on-one situation.
  • You have a high chance of success if you create a player mismatch.

Cons of ISO Plays

There are a few reasons why you should consider not using ISO plays in your playbook.

  • You become too reliant on one player, he could get injured, tired, or foul out.
  • Building out your roster's depth is important for the long-term growth of the team.
  • Isolation plays are predictable, so the defense may double down on your best player.
  • Isolation plays aren't the best against zone defense, since it's harder to penetrate towards the net.

Isolation Play Types

There are limitless possibilities for how to setup an isolation play, but the core concept remains the same. If you can create a one-on-one situation with your best player you have a great chance of success. Here are list of isolation play types you can incorporate in your playbook:

Player Mismatches In ISO Plays

ISO plays are most effective when teams create player mismatches. When a mismatch is obvious on the court, it's a good sign for a running an ISO play. When designing an isolation play around a player mismatch, look at the following things:

  • size advantage
  • height advantage
  • quickness and speed
  • number of player fouls

REMEMBER: If a defensive player is close to fouling out, you can create a player mismatch that intimidates the defender with the likelihood of drawing a personal foul.

How To Setup ISO Plays

To setup an isolation play in basketball, you need to draw defenders away from the basket and from the dribbler. The best way to setup isolation plays is with a combination of screens and cuts. As a coach, follow these steps when planning your isolation play:

  1. Understand what formation the defense is in (i.e. zone or man to man)
  2. Know your players strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Decide which player should get the ball, this is usually your best player.
  4. Find a player mismatch by exposing the opposing team's weaknesses. Look for things like heigh, speed, and foul limits.
  5. Draw defenders away from the dribbler with a combination of screens and cuts.

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