Think Fast Break

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Back in the 1960’s I was enamored of a philosophy of basketball coaching I gleaned from a book called, “Blitz Basketball”, and of the defensive philosophy of Marquette U., as published in a book, “Mosquito Defense”, by their coach, Al McGuire.

When combined breaking with my emphasis on defense, I felt I had a formidable recipe for fun and winning basketball.  It proved me right for many years, winning over 75% of the time with US teams and 80% with international club teams.

I wanted my teams to break from any and every situation and take off running to the basket – from turnovers, interceptions, a rebound, jump ball, inbounds pass, etc.  Every time we transitioned to offense, I wanted a break. 

Lots of drilling to make it work and to get the proper mind set -  including breaking lanes, getting out and running, setting up “dummy” breaks to learn when was the right opportunity to break, continuous fast breaks for conditioning, good passing, spacing & timing passes, scoring on the run and how to finish.

After we have everyone thinking break, and knowing how and when to run, the kinds of passes we need to make, keeping floor spacing, etc., then comes the release man or “streaker”, secondary break and into half court offense.

(Text below taken from my book, and demonstrated in my DVD, both entitled, “Basketball On A Triangle:  A Higher Level of Coaching & Playing” )

The following are starter and advanced drills and will combine passing, dribbling and shooting a layin.

Three Man Break. These drills are meant to get players ready to start thinking fast break. Drill to both right and left.

In Diagram A below, we just use the half-court for a starter break, until the timing is perfected in the coordinated movement of all three players. The diagram illustrates starting the break to the right. #1, the rebounder, pivots and passes with a one-handed push or overhead pass to #2, the outlet. #1 then goes quickly to fill the fast break lane on the outside of the floor opposite the ball. #2 was facing #1, receives the pass, pivots toward #3, the breaker, and makes a chest pass. #2 then fills the out side lane on that side of the floor. When #21rebounds and begins the pass to #2, #3 starts diagonally across the free throw circle toward #2’s side of the floor, and receives the pass about where the 3-point line and circle meet. Now we have #3 with the ball on the dribble leading the break to half-court. #2 is one step in from the sideline on the left side of the floor and #1 is one step in on the right side.

Diagram B below. After perfecting the 3-man start, have the players continue in the routes they previously ran to half-court, now going the length of the floor to finish the break. #3 dribbles up the middle, stopping at the free throw line to make a bounce pass, one-handed push pass or chest pass to either #1 or #2. Keeping vision on the ball and staying one step in from the sideline, until the free throw line extended, the outside players have been sprinting at full speed to catch up with the ball. When even with the FT line, both #1 and #2 cut sharply toward the basket, looking for a pass from #3. Practice all the different passes and have #3 pass to both sides.

Have all players practice all three positions, from start to finish.

              Diagram A                                             Diagram B


The diagrams below show a continuation of the fast break, using the comeback break.  This is a great conditioner and drills players to be able to think while hustling. 

Comeback Break—Start.  After #3 has passed to either #1 or #2, above, #3 goes to the side passed to and becomes the outlet player (below).  The player not receiving the pass from #3 becomes the rebounder, while the shooter continues right on through after the layin to the breaker position on the opposite side of the floor.  Mix it up so the players get to run all three positions.  Practice this from both sides, where #3 has passed to both #1 and #2.

Comeback Break—Finish.  Above, we show #3 passing to #1.  The break continues to go back the other way below, as #3 becomes the outlet on the left side.  #1 becomes the breaker on the right side, and #2 is the rebounder.  #2 passes to #3 and fills the outside lane opposite the pass.  #3 passes to #1 coming across the middle and fills the outside lane on that side, and the break is underway coming back.  Emphasize all the details from Diags. A and B. 

Sideline Break—Continuous.  This next drill should be run both clock-wise and counter-clock-wise, so the players get to pass from both sides and finish with both right and left-handed layins. The first is a team drill with two balls going simultaneously, one ball up one side of the floor, while the other ball is advanced on the opposite side of the floor. 

Only one side of the floor is being used by each group.  The ideal is two players to each spot.  This way no one stands for long. 

Points of emphasis:  Passing—crisp and on the mark; Breaker—full sprint, soft layin; Passers—pass and hustle to the next spot; Next In Line—look for the next pass coming to you.  Don’t get caught looking at the action going away from you.

The return pass for the layin should be thrown well and timed so that no dribble is required before the shot.

Both sides of the floor start at the same time. There is a #1 standing with a ball under each end basket to start. In this diagram we are going to our right, clock-wise. There is another player standing outside the endline who becomes the next #1 when the ball comes around again. The players who will be receiving and returning passes at each spot, stand on the sideline, while the next players in line at each spot will stay off the court. The breakers stay on their own side of the floor, running in line extending from the free throw lane on the starting end to the free throw line on the opposite end. On the whistle, both #1’s throw the ball up and rebound to start; pass out to #2; sprint for the other end; receive a return pass from #2 without breaking stride, fumbling or traveling; pass up-court to #3; sprint for return pass from #3 and go in for layin without dribbling. After the layin, hustle out of the way of the waiting rebounder (at the #1 spot) and go around to the #2 spot on the opposite side of the floor from which you just ran. #2, after the return pass to #1, hustle up-court and get in line at the #3 spot. #3 after the return pass to #1, hustle around the outside to become the next in line at the other #1 spot.