What Does Playing Low Post in Basketball Mean?

Basketball player with ball

Picture a basketball court and the rectangular box on the floor in front of each basket. The area near the basket on either sides of that box, which is known as the "key," "paint" or "lane," is referred to as the low post. Players who play in the low post usually are the tallest and biggest players since that is where a lot of rebounding is done.


You might hear coaches and announcers refer to low post players playing with their "backs to the basket." This means that low post players often face away from the basket as they look to receive a pass from a teammate. Once they get the ball, low post players have options such as turning and shooting, passing the ball again or trying to put a spin move on their opponent to get a clear shot on the basket. When a low post player has the ball facing the basket, he can pull up and shoot, pass or try to move past his opponent. Often this involves a pump fake to try to get the opponent up off the floor and then a strong move around the opponent to the basket. Low post players who have some quickness and good footwork can score a lot of baskets near the hoop.

Low Post Defense

Defending a player in the low post often means denying him the ball. A good defender will play a post player closely and reach an arm out in front of the defender to try to deflect any passes to him. If the ball is below the free-throw line, you should try to be between the ball and your opponent, making a lob pass over your head the only viable option. If the lob pass is successful, you'll have a difficult time stopping your opponent from making a layup unless you get help from a teammate. Low post defenders also need to be ready to help out a teammate if there is penetration on the other side or down the middle of the lane.


Usually the players who are in the low post on offense are the center and the power forward, who generally are the tallest players on the team. Shooting forwards and shooting guards generally play away from the basket but can play in the low post, particularly if they have some height and the quickness to outmaneuver taller defenders.

Common Violations

When playing in the low post on offense, a player must be careful not to have a foot in the lane for more than three seconds unless he is battling for a rebound. Offensive players who spend more than three seconds in the lane will be called for a violation and the ball will be turned over to the other team. When defending a low post player, establish a wide stance to make it more difficult for your opponent to get around you and to back you up toward the basket. If an offensive player uses his body or arms to push you off, he should be called for a violation.