In an earlier post I mentioned Coach Fred Litzenberger and what a great teacher of the game he has been throughout his career.
If you ever watch Coach Litz in practice you just might hear him yer “Change of pace, change of direction!” a hundred times.
He’s not just yelling at the ball handler either – he wants all his players using this highly effective technique to lose their defensive player.
Change of pace simply means first running hard and then slowing down while you start to straighten up in order to make the defense think you are stopping. When the defense relaxes and starts to slow down himself then you put your head down and accelerate as quickly as possible.
This one move can get the defender off balance and create all the separation you need to leave him in the dust whether you are dribbling, cutting, or running the floor in transition.
The second half of this technique is pretty self explanatory. Since most times you change direction you will want to move towards the basket, you can accomplish this by planting your outside foot and then rotating your hips and head in that direction.
Long before ball handlers learned to dribble behind their back or between their legs they used a change of pace and change of direction to free themselves of full court pressure.
The next time you practice or play open gym try using the change of pace and change of direction technique.
Use it at least once when you have the ball and at least once again when you don’t have the ball but are cutting in order to receive a pass. Your coaches and teammates will be surprised at how easily you are creating space and getting open!