The college football season is now officially underway. ESPN kicked off its coverage with a match up between South Carolina and NC State. During the middle of the first quarter South Carolina threw a deep ball into the endzone. As the ball hung in the air the receiver extended his arms, pushing off of the cornerback, creating space to make the catch. The pass was completed, but the receiver was flagged for offensive pass interference. After the play, the cameras cut to the sideline where Coach Spurrier was “coaching up” the receiver who committed the penalty. Even though the there was no audio, you could clearly see Coach Spurrier telling the player to use his body to create that space, rather than extending his arms.
The play got me thinking about creating space in basketball. In particular, getting open without a screen. How many times have you seen a player get whistled for a foul because they pushed their defender to create space? It happens all the time! Anytime a referee sees a player extend their arm(s) to push off, they will blow the whistle, even on flops.
When separating without the ball, use your lower body to improve positioning and create space. A great way to do this is to step between the defenders legs. This will either push the D back or put you in position to initiate contact and create space with your hips, not arms. Never push off with your arms.