Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Tagging up

Developed by Aaron Fearne, "tagging up" is a defensive transition system in which all 5 attackers offensive rebound on a shot, matching up (tagging up) with the player who is boxing them out (their defender).

Attackers aggressively move to tag up on the high side of their defender, in good position to convert on a defensive rebound (ball-you-basket or check-you-basket). Do not run past or run under your defender (do not fight for inside position), keep your tag in front of you.

Tagging up creates 50-50 rebounding opportunities and increases offensive rebounding percentage (adding extra possessions), but the priority is being in correct position on a defensive rebound, not offensive rebounding.

Peter Lonergan - Tagging Up

- tag up on the high shoulder (middle), create a rebounding scrum in the paint
- there are going to be mismatches, but those are not very damaging in defensive transition, and you can figure them out on the fly if needed (switch).

Brent Tipton - attackers eat the space to get on the high side of their defender

Aaron Fearne - Tagging Up - to create room on the high side of your defender, take one or two steps towards the baseline.
Matt Woodley - uncontested shots get you beat, mismatches rarely do.

See Defence - Transition basics, YouTube playlist - Tagging Up, Transition - Woodley.

You cannot let your tag get behind you, there is no safety to help, everyone is responsible for their own man.

If your tag leaks out in transition (without defensive rebounding first), you go with them.

It's the same thing if a defender makes a fly-by closeout and keeps going after the shot, the shooter goes with them (shown).

Tagging up immediately makes it 5 on 5 on a defensive rebound, e.g. with options to jam the rebounder, contest an outlet pass, pick up the ball early, help on the ball, and deny a pass up the sideline.

Here X5 gets a defensive rebound, 5 jams the rebounder, 2 contests an outlet pass to X2 then picks up the ball, 5 drops to the middle as help on the ball.


- contain the ball and slow it down, don't worry about turning the ball 3 times before halfcourt
- plugger spot (here 5) - one spot away from the ball helping contain penetration, deep enough to contain the handler
- take away any sideline kick-ahead passes (deny).
Ralph Miller - use an automatic pick-up rule to control the fast break- guard the man who was guarding you when possession was lost, providing coverage on the rebound, the outlet pass, and as the offence attempts to fill the lanes.

Tagging up also facilitates fullcourt pressure after a made shot, including getting right up on the inbounder.

Here X4 inbounds, 4 is all over the ball (his tag), and 1 forces a catch towards the baseline by his tag X1.


- 4 has his toes on the baseline, slows down the inbounder with high hands
- force the inbounds pass as deep to the baseline as possible, then 4 sprints to the foul line as plugger.

This page was made with Basketball playbook from Jes-Soft

2007-23 Eric Johannsen