page id: 236063 Sink and Fill

Sink and Fill; Basketball ( Videos )

Sink and Fill:

A weak-side defensive rotation after dribble penetration in which one defender “sinks” into the legs of an offensive big around the basket and another “fills” into the lane to handle cutters or shooters.

See also: Help the helper ~ Videos

Offensive dribble penetration sets off a chain reaction of defensive rotations. The first is the two-nine man shifting from a centralized defensive position to trapping the box on the strong side. But this on-ball help throws two defenders at the ball-meaning three are left to guard the four remaining offensive players.

NBA defenses respond to this imbalance by prioritizing the most immediate threats relative to the driver. Assuming the first help defender prevents a direct scoring opportunity, the driver looks to pass with an inside-out progression: He checks for dump off passes for dunks before eyeing the weak-side for open, kick-out threes.

Image: CelticsHub

This term has a literal meaning, help your teammate who is helping someone else. Nothing kills a team defense like not helping the helper. Because guess what? The helper stops helping. He’s not going to leave his man to help you if he thinks no one else has his back. This is more of a general defensive term but it’s key to defending pick and rolls. Here is Kawhi Leonard stepping in and sinking and filling, therefore helping the helper.

Sinking and filling as a whole eliminates these easiest options and encourages what’s left: the longest possible pass to the weak side. This is because the defense can theoretically scramble out of the sink-and-fill rotation during the flight time of the ball. And given the increased distance of the pass, anything thrown off-target gives the defense an additional tick to regroup.

This principle of forcing long, cross-court passes is a fundamental component of NBA defense. Remember that one-on-one dribble penetration is an assumption built into defensive concepts — no defender can stay in front of the ball at all times. That’s why the best defenses do not cut off every option; they guide the ball toward spots favorable for recovery. Sinking and filling accomplishes exactly that: It anticipates the obvious and narrows drive-and-kick options. [2]

This is a video compilation of various examples of defenders sinking and filling. Remember to keep your eyes peeled on the weak side. Most of the situations here aren’t clean, and it might not be easy to immediately identify the fill man. Sometimes the sink man is actually rotating out to the weak-side corner. Regardless of the situation, focus on how the defense rotates behind the initial trap-the-box help and see if you can spot the general sink-and-fill concept.

How To Sink

In non-ball screen situations, most NBA offenses maximize spacing with four players dotting the three-point line and one big lurking in one of the dunker spots. When an offensive player drives, the defender guarding this big is the natural trap-the-box man. This is where the sink-and-fill reverberation starts, because there is now an offensive player sitting unguarded next to the rim.

But who rotates to guard this open player? The “sink” man. While the four-on-three situation might suggest a weak-size zone to compensate, the close quarters of the potential dump-off pass makes it less feasible. That’s why NBA defenses use a man-to-man concept on this secondary layer of help. You double the ball, I got yours.

The “sink” man is the nearest perimeter player — typically on or around the weak-side elbow — to the open man in the dunker spot. Once his teammate leaves to trap the box, he:

Immediately “sinks” down into the paint toward the open big. Gets ball-side — between ball and man. Hits the legs of the big. Regarding the first point, trapping the box and sinking must be nearly simultaneous. All the driver needs is a tiny window to sneak a pass through to his teammate for a dunk. Every milisecond that big is left open is time for that pass to be completed. It is also why weak-side players creep into the middle when the ball is on the other side of the floor. They are prepping for this potential help-the-helper situation.

Because the sink man is dropping down from the perimeter, he is typically a wing player. And because that wing usually finds himself at a significant size disadvantage, this third point — hitting the big’s legs — is crucial.

Although getting ball-side is ideal, it isn’t always possible. The instantaneous nature of the sink rotation gives the defender little time to react. The offensive player also has natural inside position and does not give it up willingly. Dropping down low into a big’s legs, however, can accomplish the same goals by jamming him into the baseline. Not only does this throw him off balance and interrput the ease of a pass-catch, it also takes out his base of support. Should the driver shoot and miss, he is no longer an unencumbered offensive rebounder waiting for a put-back. Should the driver throw a lob over the trap-the-box defender, the receiving big is less likely to elevate. And if the driver tries to wrap a pass around the trap-the-box defender on the baseline side, the receiving big is wedged behind the backboard. [2]


The purpose of this drill is to put the defense at a big disadvantage while working on on help rotations away from the ball to protect the basket. Defensive players will work on their defensive positioning on the floor, effort, and communication. Talking to each other is extremely important on defense , and this drill reveals that importance.

The drill is set up with four offensive players spaced around the three point line. Each of the three defenders will guard one of the offensive player . One offensive player will remain unguarded to start the drill.

The offensive players pass the ball around the perimeter, and the defensive players let the passes go. When the ball is being passed around the defenders will get to their proper defensive position, remain in a good stance, and call out either "Ball" "Help" or "Deny". When the ungaurded offensive player receives a pass the drill becomes live. The unguarded offensive player in this diagram is 4. When 4 receives the pass they have to try and attack the basket. 4 can shoot, drive, or pass. The defense must rotate to stop the ball, sink and fill on the backside. This requires lots of effort and communication by the defensive players. The rep for this drill ends when the offense scores or the defense gets a turnover or a defensive rebound. Rotate so players get work on both defense and offense.

In this diagram you can see the rotations where players are sinking and filling on the backside so there are no layups given up.

IMPORTANT: It has to be stressed to the players how important it is to talk during this drill. It helps players understand where they need to be during this scramble situation.

Note: This is a scramble situation where the defense is at a disadvantage, so the offense may get score some baskets. Keep encouraging the defense to hustle, talk, and they will get their shrare of stops. [3]

Secrets of NBA Defenses: Helping One Pass Away

Coach Nick gets on the court to demonstrate why helping one pass away is so devastating to a
defense, as it gives up way too many wide open shots. [7]

Consider how it works in the hospitality industry. In a great restaurant you don’t have to wait for your server to check on you; your needs are taken care of instantaneously, sometimes before you notice them. Everyone from the busboy to the maître d’ has one goal: the success of the team. Such coordination seems complicated for a small eatery, nearly impossible for a large organization. But it’s easier than you think.

For a combined forty years, Pritchard and Eliot have focused on building high-performing groups. They’ve crushed Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Rule, logging upward of 50,000 hours studying the factors that create champions and dynasties, from the NBA and Major League Baseball to the Fortune 500. Exhaustive testing, scouting, and evaluating have taught them that truly special teams in all fields have one common denominator: a willingness to do what­ever it takes to ((Help the Helper in Basketball ( Videos )|help the helper).

Drawing on true and inspirational stories from sports to medicine to business, 'Sink and Fill' shows what’s behind the curtain that fuels great team performance.
Continue reading: Sink and Fill: Building a Culture of Extreme Teamwork by Kevin Pritchard and John Eliot - Basketball Tip: Helping the helper on defense  (external link) [5]

Plays We Love: How To Sink and Fill or Help The Helper

In summary, in a basketball game, sinkinig and fillinig or helping the helper might play out like this:

  • There is a primary action on the court—for example, a guard brings the ball up the court. However, the guard ("ballhandler") is facing a pressing defense and is having a hard time getting across the half-court line to avoid a back-court penalty.
  • To free the ball-handler, a teammate (the helper) leaves his designated spot on the floor to set a screen. * However, the helper left the spot where he would otherwise catch a pass to avoid a backcourt penalty. Now, there's no one there and the team risks turning the ball over on a penalty.
  • Seeing the gap left on the floor, you run to the open spot, catch a press-breaking pass from the ball-handler and help the team avoid a back-court penalty. You have just helped the helper. [5]

Fundamentals of Sink and Fill or Help the Hekper [6]

Spanish ~ Español - entrar y cubrir?


210817 ~ About What is Help-Side Defense?

What is Help-Side Defense?
A basketball  (external link) defense fundamental in which a defensive player who is two passes away from the ball adjusts his defense to help another teammate defend the ball handler.

Sporting Charts explains Help-Side Defense
To understand help-side defense , first you have to understand what the help-side is. The help-side, also known as the weak-side of the court, is the area of the court away from the ball (and therefore the ball handler). In man-to-man defense , a defensive player on the help-side is typically already guarding another player (and in zone, guarding a specific area). In order for that defensive player to provide help-side defense , he must maintain his current defense while also helping to prevent a drive to the basket by the ball handler .

The best practice for help-side defense is for the helping defender~ to move away from his own man or defensive assignment towards the center of the court, but only enough to deny a clear lane to the basket, while also close enough to return to his original defensive assignment. Most coaches will teach defenders to drop about a step below the line of the ball and open up their body, so that when they are facing away from the basket, they can see both the player they are guarding and the ball in their peripheral vision. By not being too far away from their assignment and being closer to the ~np~defender they are helping, they have enough time to react and defend either a pass or a drive to the weak side. [7]
Mario Perez Diaz

[1] Basketball  (external link)
[2] Sink and Fill  (external link)
[3] Thinking Basketball  (external link)
[3.1] Fundamentals of Help the Helper  (external link)
[4] Help the Helper: Building a Culture of Extreme Teamwork by Kevin Pritchard and John Eliot  (external link)
[5] Basketball Tip: Helping the helper on defense  (external link)
[6] How do I teach helping the helper and rotations in man defense?  (external link)
[7] BBALLBREAKDOWN  (external link)

The eBA News Portal
The eBA Basketball & Statistics Encyclopedia ~ You Are Here !
The eBA Basketball System Book
The eBA Basketball Statistics Forums
The eBA Basketball Statistics Blogs
The eBA Clinics ONLINE
The eBA Basketball Statistics Great Debate
The eBA Stats Group WITH YOU on Google PLUS
The eBA Stats Group WITH YOU on Facebook
The eBA Stats Group WITH YOU on Twitter
The eBA Stats Group Channel on YouTube

You must be logged in as Editor or Publisher Registered Member
to contribute to the Encyclopedia and to comment or correct an existing concept !

Browse by alphabet:




If you're using AdBlock Plus
If you're using AdBlock Plus or some other adblocking software, please know that You are free to do so and we shall not try to stop you.
If you're using AdBlock Plus

Just know that, although you are clearly not interested in clicking any of the advertisements on this website, ad-blocking prevents us from continuing to produce the content we do provide free of charge, and we politely request you to kindly whitelist our site thereby allowing our harmless and unobtrusive ads to load and the impressions counting to run !.

Thank YOU !
The eBA Team


Quick Edit a Wiki Page