cut in basketball

What Is A Cut In Basketball? How Can It Improve Your Game?

Basketball is a game of constant movement. And the best way to encourage activity is with cutting. So, here’s how to cut in basketball and how adding this to your game will improve your offence.

We can all agree that ball movement is one of the most important aspects of basketball (isolation plays can only take a team so far).

And one of the best ways to achieve this is through off-ball movement. But what’s the most effective method of moving without the ball?

Well, it’s by cutting.

What is a cut in basketball?

A cut (or cutting) is a type of off-ball movement in basketball. The main goal of cutting is to escape your defender so that you can get to an open spot where the ball handler can see you and can get the ball to you.

There are many different ways of cutting.

The best teams in the NBA all use off-ball cuts in their plays.

If you’ve watched the Golden State Warriors, or the San Antonio Spurs, or the Miami Heat (to name a few) in the past decade, players are constantly moving around the court and the ball is too.

The reason why these teams do this is that cutting and ball movement disrupt the defence. It also gives them more opportunities to find “great” shots.

And in all honesty, teams whose players “move” a lot are more fun to watch. But that’s me going on a tangent.

However, players who cut and move a lot off the ball are more fun to play with. Nobody wants to play with a stagnant player who just stands in one spot, waiting for the ball.

My Experience

I had to learn this the hard way.

When I was younger, I was a ball hog and loved to isolate. I also didn’t move much when I didn’t have the ball in my hands. I would stand on the perimeter and wait until the ball got back to me so that I could attack the basket.

But this one day, my friends and I were playing 3-on-3. I played the way I normally did, but they decided to not pass me the ball.

I called them out on it and they called me out for being a lazy player.

They said that all I did was wait for the ball and didn’t do anything else. They wanted me to move without the ball and cut, and stuff.

This obviously hurt my feelings. But it was also a wake-up message, telling me that I needed to change how I played or else I wouldn’t get to play.

(Even as a young teen, I was an analytical and a deep thinker…)


Benefits of Learning How to Cut

But why should you learn how to cut (aside from it making you more fun to play with)?

As an average Joe or Jane, I’m pretty sure you don’t have the best ball-handling skills. I surely don’t.

You (like me) can probably do enough to attack the basket but not enough to consistently lose your defender for open shots (heck, you may not even be able to dribble the ball).

However, if you were to add cutting to your game (especially if you can’t dribble), you can consistently lose your defender without having to dribble the ball.

You just have to deke them into going in the opposite direction or direct them into a screen; all you have to do to get an open shot is run.

That’s it. There is no easier way to get easy baskets.

How to Cut in Basketball

So here are a few of the most common (and basic) cuts in basketball:

The V Cut

Key Notes:

  • Walk your defender down, and then explode out to an open area (or cut hard)
  • Can gently push off of defender
  • If you want to learn more about the  V Cut and its benefits, read this article

The Backdoor Cut

Key Notes:

  • Cut to the wing hard
  • Take defender as far away from the basket as possible. Up until you are square with the ball handler
  • Load up on both legs

The Off-Ball Cut (and a couple of bonuses)

Key Notes:

  • Time your cuts. The best time is when your defender looks away from you
  • Also, cut when your defender is able to pass you the ball

These are, in my opinion, the three cuts that are easiest to learn and to execute.

As long as you pay attention to your defenders and the ball handler, you should be able to get open looks on a regular basis with these off-ball movements.

Final Thoughts

Cutting is one of the simplest ways to get easy looks. It doesn’t take a lot of skill and doesn’t require you to be the most athletic either.

As long as you can run and catch, it’s a skill that you can rely on for years to come (trust me –I’ve played with boomers and they all play this way and, more importantly, they score).

So, are you going to add this fundamental skill to your arsenal?

(I hope you say yes.)