January 8, 2020 • OffenseWinning Hoops

‘Umbrella’ press breaker protects against defensive storm

by Julious Coleman, contributing writer

diagram 1“Umbrella” is an effective press breaker that’s designed to get the ball into the hands of your best ball handlers. The offense is set up so that you have a player in the middle (a “safety” positioned behind the press), and a player positioned deep, serving as a long outlet over the top of the press.

After the ball is inbounded, the alignment is such that the players are positioned in an umbrellalike set. Telling players to imagine the umbrella design helps them remember spacing and alignment techniques.

DIAGRAM 1: Umbrella press breaker. When the Umbrella is set up, 1 is in the left endline corner. 2 is in the middle between the free-throw line and the top of the key. 3 and 4 are adjacent from each other, with 3 at the left side of the half-court line, and 4 in the right end-line corner. 5 sets up opposite of 1 and deep downcourt behind the press.

Spacing is critical

Diagram 2

The key component to this pressure breaker is teaching players to keep proper spacing. Proper spacing helps alleviate double-team opportunities for the pressing defense.

There are three critical rules to help players remember good spacing in the Umbrella press break.

  1. 5 is always on the opposite side of the ball.
  2. Always have a middle player, a player behind and a player long.
  3. Always have your best post ball handler inbound the ball.

DIAGRAM 2: As 1 passes to 4, 3 cuts back behind the press. 1 cuts to the foul line and becomes the middle player. 2 cuts to where 5 was, and 5 cuts to the opposite side of the floor. Remember, 5 is always opposite the ball.

After the shifting and realignment, the Umbrella is now set up on the other side of the floor. At any time, if the ball is passed to the middleman, he or she must look to deliver the ball to the opposite side of the court (up the sideline). Once the ball is advanced, the press is broken.

Shifting into the Umbrella

You can easily disguise the Umbrella press breaker. Set up in a “disguise formation” on the inbound and then quickly shifting into Umbrella once the ball is inbounded.

women basketball press breaker
Photo: Lorie Shaull

There are four main disguise entries that you can use to quickly get into Umbrella formation.

  • Pairs set.
  • 1-4 set.
  • “Football” set.
  • “Volleyball” set (last-second entry play).

DIAGRAM 3: Pairs formation. In this set, 4 inbounds to 1 in the corner. 1 starts lined up in a stacked tandem with 2 at the free-throw line. 2 breaks to the corner opposite the ball. 3 and 5 set up at half court. 3 starts long and breaks back, while 5 starts up and then breaks long.

DIAGRAM 4: Pairs into Umbrella. After inbounding to 1, 4 steps in and cuts to the right endline corner. 2 fills to the middle, and the offense is in Umbrella.

   » ALSO SEE: ‘Jam press’ puts sustained pressure on the ball

DIAGRAM 5: 1-4 set. 4 inbounds the ball. 3, 5, 1 and 2 line up at the free-throw line extended. 5 screens for 1, who breaks to the ball. After setting the screen, 5 breaks to the opposite side of the floor at half court. 3 starts long and breaks back to half court, and 2 cuts to the middle.

DIAGRAM 6: 1-4 into Umbrella. 4 inbounds the ball, then steps into the right endline corner to form the Umbrella alignment.

Diagrams 3-6
Click to enlarge diagrams

DIAGRAM 7: “Football” set. This play sends a player long if the defense is too extended in the frontcourt. 2 breaks back to half court, and 5 screens for 1. 1 uses the screen and goes long, looking for a football-type pass from the inbounder for quick layup.

All 5 and 1 have to do is change jobs and the Umbrella formation remains intact.

DIAGRAM 8: “Volleyball” set. This play provides a last-second shot for your best shooters. 4 throws the ball long and high to 5. As the ball is in the air, 2 and 3 break to the 3-point line.

DIAGRAM 9: “Volleyball” set (continued). Upon receiving the pass, 5 can either take the shot or tip the ball to 2 or 3 for a 3-pointer.

Diagrams 7-9
Click to enlarge diagrams

Julious Coleman is an assistant men’s basketball coach at Biola University in California.