How to Cut in Basketball in 5 Quick and Easy Steps!

How to Cut in Basketball in 5 Quick and Easy Steps!

Did you know you don’t have to be able to dribble like one of the Harlem Globetrotters in order to be an ultra-effective scorer? It’s true!

Throughout my career, I’ve played with all sorts of players, from shooters to lock-down defenders. And in all my years, one thing I noticed is that the guys on my team who knew how to cut effectively were the most efficient scorers.

We’re talking 15-25 points a game, plus offers from across the country for basketball scholarships.

They knew the ins and outs of the art of cutting. Luckily I was able to learn from them while playing with them.

They all had the same outlook. They knew about the different types of cuts, key elements of how to cut, and how to effectively create scoring opportunities for themselves.

These are the things I’ll go over in this post to teach you how to cut in basketball.

Whether you’re a seasoned player or new to the game, understanding how to cut in basketball is a fundamental skill that can greatly enhance your offensive abilities.

So grab a pair of the best basketball shoes for guards, and let’s get started!

Coach Frikki

What is a Cut in Basketball?

In basketball, a cut is a movement made by an offensive player without the ball to create space, confuse defenders, and receive a pass.

It is a fundamental skill that allows players to navigate through the defense and create scoring opportunities for themselves or their teammates.

The primary objective of a cut is to gain an advantageous position on the court, either to receive a pass for a high-percentage shot or to draw defensive attention and open up opportunities for other players.

Cuts can be quick and explosive or more deliberate and calculated, depending on the situation and the intended outcome.

You can definitely get some easy buckets with cuts and knowing how to shoot a floater.

Reasons You Need to Know How to Cut in Basketball

1. Create Scoring Opportunities: Cutting allows you to create openings in the defense, positioning yourself for scoring opportunities near the basket.

By making decisive cuts, you can receive passes in areas where you have a higher chance of scoring, such as layups or dunks.

2. Confuse Defenders: Cuts such as the shallow cut or deep cut force defenders to make split-second decisions and react to your movements.

By utilizing various cutting techniques and changing direction quickly, you can confuse defenders and make it harder for them to guard you effectively.

3. Open Up Passing Options: Cutting doesn’t always have to be about scoring for yourself. It can also open up passing lanes and create opportunities for your teammates.

By making intelligent cuts, you draw defensive attention, which can lead to open passes and easy scoring opportunities for your teammates.

4. Improve Offensive Flow: Basketball cuts improve the overall flow of the offense. It keeps the defense on their toes, prevents them from settling into a comfortable defensive position, and creates constant movement on the court.

This dynamic offensive movement makes it harder for the defense to anticipate plays and disrupt the offensive flow.

5. Capitalize on Mismatches: Cutting can help exploit mismatches in size, speed, or skill between you and your defender.

By making strategic cuts, you can take advantage of situations where you have a favorable matchup, allowing you to score more efficiently or create opportunities for your team.

6. Enhance Teamwork and Communication: Cutting requires good communication and coordination with your teammates.

By learning how to cut effectively, you improve your ability to work together with your teammates, understand their intentions, and execute plays smoothly.

7. Stand Out as a Role Player: Cutting is an underrated skill that can set you apart as a valuable role player on the court.

Coaches and teammates appreciate players who can move without the ball, create scoring opportunities, and contribute to the team’s success even without being the primary scorer.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Cutting in Basketball

Mastering the art of cutting in basketball requires practice and an understanding of the fundamental techniques.

It is a key for those looking at how to get better at basketball. Follow these step-by-step instructions to improve your cutting skills:

Section 1: The Essence of Cutting

Let’s start by clarifying what cutting means in how to play basketball. Cutting refers to the strategic movement of an offensive player without the ball to create space, confuse defenders, and receive a pass.

Cutting serves a dual purpose – creating scoring opportunities for yourself and opening up opportunities for teammates.

By mastering cutting techniques with basketball cutting drills, you enhance your team’s offensive flow and become a more dynamic threat.

Section 2: Types of Cuts

1. Backdoor Cut: This classic cut involves faking towards the perimeter before quickly changing direction and cutting backdoor towards the basket.

It capitalizes on overplaying defenders and the element of surprise.

2. V-Cut: The V-cut is a fundamental cut used to create separation from a defender.

By planting one foot and quickly pivoting in the opposite direction, you can gain an advantageous position to receive a pass.

3. UCLA Cut: The UCLA cut occurs when a point guard or primary ballhandler passes to the wing and then cuts toward the basketball, often with the help of a back screen by a post player at the high post or free throw line.

4. Curl Cut: Similar to a flash cut, the curl cut is ideal for players with strong mid-range or three-point shooting abilities.

The curl cut utilizes a screen to cut around it and provide an open lane for your teammate to pass the ball.

Section 3: Key Principles for Effective Cutting

1. Timing: Understanding when to make your move is crucial. Analyze the defense, anticipate plays, and cut at the right moment to exploit defensive weaknesses.

2. Communication: Effective cutting relies on clear communication with your teammates. Signal your intentions through eye contact, hand signals, or verbal cues to ensure seamless execution.

3. Change of Speed and Direction: Varying your pace and direction during cuts using controlled lateral quickness keeps defenders off-balance.

Combine explosive bursts with sudden deceleration to create separation and confuse opponents.

Section 4: Creating Cutting Opportunities

1. Spacing and Off-Ball Movement: Proper spacing and constant movement away from the ball are essential for successful cuts.

Maintain an optimal distance from teammates while being aware of defensive positioning.

2. Reading the Defense: Recognizing defensive tendencies, such as overplaying or sagging off, allows you to exploit vulnerabilities and make an effective straight cut.

3. Utilizing Screens: Coordinate with your teammates to set screens that create opportunities for cutting. By using screens effectively, you can disrupt defensive schemes and find open lanes to the basket.

Section 5: Drills to Enhance Cutting Skills

1. Cut and Replace Drill: This drill focuses on continuous cutting and replacing positions on the floor, improving your timing, and honing your cutting instincts.

2. Reaction and Recognition Drill: Develop your ability to read the defense quickly by practicing reacting to different defensive scenarios and making appropriate cuts.

3. Two-Man Game Drill: Work on coordination with a teammate, practicing various cutting techniques like the flex cut within a simulated game environment.

Key Considerations for Successfully Cutting in Basketball

1. Force Help from Defenders: Hard cuts force off-ball defenders to react and provide help defense. This can create opportunities for scoring or open up passing options for teammates.

2. Score Without Set Plays: Cutting is crucial because it allows players to score points without relying solely on set plays. It’s a dynamic offensive movement that keeps the defense guessing.

3. Understand Defensive Gaps: An understanding of defensive gaps is vital for identifying optimal cut openings. Analyzing key attributes that indicate cut openings can help players make effective cuts like a flare cut.

4. Focus on Value-added Cuts: Simply making cuts may not be enough. Adding value to cuts involves factors such as timing, misdirection, and creating separation from defenders.

5. Utilize Different Cutting Techniques: Various cutting techniques, such as backdoor cuts and curls, can be used based on defensive positioning and offensive strategy. Each technique has its own advantages.

6. Recognize Cutting Efficiency: Cutting is considered one of the most efficient ways to score in basketball. It can lead to high-percentage shots and put pressure on the defense. It can even be effective against zone defenses.

7. Get in Shape: Cutting constantly on the offensive end requires a lot of stamina. You need to know how to get in shape for basketball and work on cardiovascular endurance so you can make cuts effectively for the duration of the game.

Taking it to the Next Level: How to Do a Laker Cut

To take your cutting skills to the next level, let’s dive into how to execute a Laker cut in basketball. The Laker cut is a specific type of cut that involves a backdoor cut followed by a quick change of direction to receive a pass near the basket. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Set up the Cut:

  • Start by positioning yourself on the perimeter, typically on the weak side of the court.

  • Read the defense and look for an opportunity to make your move.

2. Backdoor Cut:

  • Take a step towards the ball handler as if you’re preparing to receive a pass.

  • As the ball handler initiates a dribble or a pass fake, quickly make a strong backdoor cut towards the basket.

  • This cut should be explosive and decisive to create separation from your defender.

3. Change of Direction:

  • As you reach the midpoint of your backdoor cut, abruptly change direction towards the top of the key or the wing area.

  • This change of direction catches your defender off guard and allows you to create further separation.

4. Timing and Communication:

  • Coordinate with the passer, usually the player with the ball at the perimeter.

  • Make eye contact, use verbal cues, or communicate through hand signals to ensure they recognize your cut and are ready to deliver a pass.

5. Receive and Finish:

  • As you come out of the change of direction, be prepared to receive a pass near the basket.

  • Keep your hands ready, and utilize proper footwork and body control to catch the pass and finish the play with a layup or a dunk.

  • If the pass isn’t available, be prepared to adjust and provide options for your teammates.

Alternative Methods to Cutting in Basketball

1. L-Cut:

  • The L-cut, also known as an “up-and-out” cut, is performed by initially moving towards the ball handler and then making a sharp cut away from them at a 90-degree angle. The purpose of this cut is to create space for a potential pass or to set up a scoring opportunity.

2. Veer Cut:

  • A veer cut involves faking a cut in one direction and then quickly changing direction to cut in the opposite direction. This deceptive cut can catch defenders off guard and create openings for scoring or passing.

3. Face Cut/Front Cut:

  • The face cut, or front cut, occurs when the offensive player positions themselves between the ball and the defender, creating a clear passing lane. This cut is useful for receiving passes and initiating offensive plays.


Cutting is a great tool for basketball players who are looking for more opportunities to score in a basketball game.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the best scorers I’ve played with over the years were the ones who knew how to cut effectively.

By understanding the essence of cutting, exploring different types of cuts, embracing key principles, and incorporating drills into your training routine, you’re on your way to becoming a more effective offensive player.

Remember, cutting is not purely about individual success but also about contributing to the team’s overall performance. So get out there, practice, and elevate your game to new heights!


How do you know when to cut in basketball?

1. Timing of the Pass:

  • Watch for cues from the ball handler. If they have dribbled into a scoring threat position or are about to make a pass, it may be a good time to cut.

2. Defensive Positioning:

  • Read the positioning of your defender. If they are focused on the ball, overplaying, or not paying attention to you, it could be an opportunity to make a cut.

3. Offensive Strategy:

  • Understand your team’s offensive system. Some offenses have specific cuts built into their plays, such as screens or backdoor options. Follow the designed plays and cuts within your team’s system.

4. Movement without the Ball:

  • If you’ve been stationary for a few seconds and the ball is on the opposite side of the court, it might be a good time to initiate a cut. Movement without the ball keeps the defense guessing and creates opportunities for open passes.

5. Reading Help Defense:

  • Observe how the defense reacts when one of your teammates drives to the basket. If defenders collapse or help excessively, it could create openings for you to cut to the basket and receive a pass.

6. Non-Verbal Communication:

  • Develop chemistry with your teammates and establish non-verbal signals. Eye contact, head nods, or hand signals can be used to communicate and initiate a cut.

7. Anticipation:

  • As you gain experience and familiarity with your team’s offensive patterns, you’ll develop a sense of anticipation. Anticipating when a passing lane will open up or when the defense will be caught off guard can give you the timing to make a successful cut.

What is Iverson cut in basketball?

The Iverson cut involves a guard or wing player starting at one side of the court and running across to the opposite side, using screens and quick movements to get open for a pass or create scoring opportunities. Here’s how the Iverson cut works:

1. Initial Positioning:

  • The player intending to make the Iverson cut starts on one side of the court, typically around the wing area.

2. Setting up the Cut:

  • The player communicates with their teammate who will set a screen (usually a big man) to create an opening for them.

  • The screener can position themselves near the top of the key or along the baseline, depending on the offensive play design.

3. Running the Cut:

  • As the screen is set, the player makes a sharp sprint across the court towards the opposite side, using the screen as a barrier between themselves and their defender.

  • The goal is to quickly get open for a pass or create confusion among defenders.

4. Receiving the Pass or Scoring Opportunity:

  • After making the cut, the player can receive a bounce pass from a teammate who has recognized the cut and is ready to make the assist for an easy lay up.

What is a 7 cut in basketball?

In basketball, the term “7 cut” refers to a specific type of cut used in offensive strategies. The 7 cut is named after the shape it resembles, which is the number 7. It is a diagonal cut made by a player along the baseline towards the top of the key or wing area. Here’s how the 7 cut works:

1. Initial Positioning:

  • The player starts in the corner or along the baseline on one side of the court.

2. Setting up the Cut:

  • The player can use various methods to set up the 7 cut, such as receiving a pass, using a screen, or reading the defense.

  • If using a screen, a teammate may set a pick near the baseline or the low block area to create separation from the defender.

3. Running the Cut:

  • The player initiates the 7 cut by sprinting diagonally across the court from the baseline towards the top of the key or wing area.

  • The goal is to quickly get open for a pass, confuse defenders, or create scoring opportunities.

4. Receiving the Pass or Scoring Opportunity:

  • After making the cut, the player can receive a pass from a teammate who has recognized the cut and is ready to make the assist.

  • Alternatively, the player can use the momentum from the cut to attack the basket, shoot a mid-range jumper, or make a play for themselves or a teammate.

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