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Sports & Gaming

How to Run a Stack Play in Basketball

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Oct 16, 2020 • 2 min read

An out-of-bounds basketball play happens after every scored basket, non-shooting foul, violation, dead-ball turnover, timeout, and jump ball, and at the beginning of every period (excluding the first). When setting up for an inbound pass, try using a stack inbound play to create open scoring opportunities.

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What Is a Stack Play in Basketball?

In basketball, a stack is a type of inbounds play where the four offensive players on the court stand close together in a vertical line formation in front of the inbounder. The "stacked" players then simultaneously break out of the line formation by running to different locations on the court. The purpose of an inbounds stack play is to open up possible passing options using hard cuts and screens.

The end goal of a stack play typically depends on the offensive team's inbound starting position. If you're inbounding from the baseline under the defense's basket, use the stack to create an open jump shot or layup. If you're inbounding from the sideline closest to your own basket, use the stack to create an open pass to the ball handler (usually the point guard) so they can set up the offense. If you're inbounding from the sideline closest to the defense's basket, you can use a stack play to either set up your offense or create an open shot.

How to Run a Stack Play

It's not always easy to find an open shot off of an inbounds pass. When inbounding the ball from under the defense's basket, try running this simple play from the stack formation in order to create three potential scoring options.

  1. Starting position: Have your small forward inbound the ball. Line up the rest of your players in the stack formation on the lane line closest to the inbounder. Within the stack, place your center in front at the low post block, followed by your power forward, small forward, and lastly your point guard in the back of the stack near the elbow of the foul line.
  2. Movement: All the players in the stack simultaneously execute the following actions: The center cuts diagonally to the opposite low post block, the power forward cuts straight down towards the baseline, the shooting guard sets a screen for the point guard, and the point guard cut to the corner closest to the inbounder for a potential three-point shot.
  3. Passing options: The inbounder (your small forward) should first look to pass it to the center or power forward under the basket for an easy layup. If the two layup options aren't open, the inbounder should then pass to the point guard in the corner for the three-point shot.

This is just one basic example of a stack play, but you can run countless variations of the stack offense by simply switching the movement of the players lined up in the stack. No matter what stack play you use, it's essential that all players cut hard even if they're not intended to receive the pass. Otherwise, the defense may catch on to who the planned shooters are.

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