Old Man Game Step-Back

How to do the Old Man Step Back like Paul Pierce

Looking for a basketball move to create space, one that doesn’t require a lot of quickness? Give Paul Pierce’s old man game step-back a try.

I was on YouTube one day and a video with the title “How to defend the step-back” was suggested to me. In it, Scottie Pippen and Paul Pierce talked about how they would defend step-back.

The step-back is a basketball move where the ball-handler would, off of the dribble, take a step backwards (or sideways or diagonally) to create space for an open shot.

The step back can either be a large step or a small (but long) hop.

There are multiple stars in the NBA who uses this move. But James Harden would be the guy this move is most tied to.

The video was informative.

But what really caught my attention was Pierce talking about why and how he did the step-back.

How Paul Pierce Sets Up the Old Man Game Step-Back

The former NBA champion said that he used the step-back because it helped him create space when he gets cut off during a drive.

“Some of the ways I used to set it up, [Harden] goes into it and he steps, but the thing about the step-back for me, I always set it up with the drive,” he says. “So, I never intended to do the step-back. My whole intention was to attack the basket. So when I would attack the basket, and someone would cut it off, and then I get my shoulder into them. I’m cut off now. That’s when I go into my step-back. That’s how I created the space.”

He also added that this move allowed him to create space without having to be the most athletic player.

“I used it because I probably wasn’t the fastest to get around my man as I got older. So if I didn’t get that step, I would always lean into them. Once I lean into somebody, then I got the step-back.”

Throughout his career, Pierce has never been the quickest or the most explosive player. But he was excellent at shooting and using his body to create space.

Unlike Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, who used their great footwork to get open, Pierce used his size and physics to get open.

And this is what you could do too, even if you’re not the biggest or strongest.

How to Do the Paul Pierce Step-Back

Pierce says that the step-back becomes available to him when he bumps into someone during a drive. You may be thinking you need a lot of weight to do this.

You actually don’t.

Regardless of your size, if you were to run into someone who is unbalanced (or moving backwards) that person will budge. It’s basic momentum physics.

However, what you do need to complete this move is good balance and footwork, and the ability to make a jump shot.

You need good balance to land the step-back (which is often done in haste). You also need the ability to make a jump shot.

The footwork is necessary to initiate the move.

To improve your balance, you can do balance exercises such as balance board and Bosu ball squats, single-leg deadlifts, and single-leg bunny hops.

I have an entire list of balance exercises here, so check out the article and try some of the movements.

As for making the jump shot, you could either play shooting games (which you can learn some here) or master the fundamentals of shooting.

Personally, I prefer doing the latter before delving into the games.

To improve your footwork, do ladder drills and work on your post-game.

You can learn how here.

Benefits of Learning Paul Pierce’s Step-Back

The main benefit of the step-back is that it’s an easy and effective move to create separation between you and the defender.

And this specific one, the old man step-back, is great because anyone can do it.

Big or small.

Quick or slow.

You just need to know how to do it properly and when to do it. You have to be comfortable with the motions of the move.

And the comfort comes from lots and lots of practice.

Final Thoughts

The old man game step-back is all about creating space.

But creating space by using momentum, not fancy handles and quick feet.

It’s a great move for all the average Joes and Janes, regardless of size, age, or athletic ability.

Thus, learn this move and practice it. It could become your go-to one day.