Fast Break - Attacking The Basket

I told you last month in, Think Fast Break , getting the break started takes lots of drilling and instilling a mindset that can help to make it happen without having to think about it. The break and the right kind of breaking response to any developing offensive situation need to become so practiced as to be instinctive.

In order to break from any and every situation, we take off running to our basket – from turnovers, interceptions, a rebound, jump ball, inbounds pass, etc.  Every time we transition to offense, I want a break.

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.


My defensive rebounding scheme will always have 4 players going to assigned positions for rebounding strength and one person holding back.  That player is my designated “streaker”.  

The 4 defensive rebound positions would be at either side of the basket, in front of the basket (giving a rebounding triangle) and a high position, between the free throw line to the top of the key.  Whoever was defending the shooter, will block that player out, before moving to their rebounding position.  If it’s the “streaker” on the shooter, block out and then release as soon as you see the ball is in the hands of one of your teammates.

The “streaker” is a player that I don’t require to rebound but rather to get away quickly looking for a long pass, should we gain the rebound.  (If we lose the rebound, that player hustles back into the defense.)

Which ever defender finds him/herself farthest from the offensive basket when a shot goes up becomes the release player – the “streaker”.  It probably will not always be the same player, though usually it will be a back court player.  So, we drill many different shot scenarios, so everyone will be comfortable with the release automatic when it occurs.

Now, our rebounders always know to look for the “streaker” first, then for an outlet to begin the fast break, or to put the ball on the floor while looking up the floor for a pass target.

Some rules – details – to drill for the streaking player:  
*When it looks like your team will secure the rebound, take off;
*When you streak, don’t go in a straight line to the basket, where you have to turn and look back over your shoulder for the ball;
*Run a ‘belly’ or ‘banana’ pattern, holding eye contact with the rebounder, or another player the rebounder might pass to.  This pattern enables the passer to throw a better pass than trying to lay one directly over the receiver’s shoulder;
*Always run the ‘belly/banana’ route to the side of the floor the rebound went to.  Don’t make the rebounder pass across the floor.  The retreating team, transitioning to defense, will be going up the middle of the floor.  We don’t want to try to pass through or over the top of the defense;
*If the “streaker” doesn’t get a pass, that player becomes an “early bird” – an early arrival for the offense – and should go to the wing position, outside the 3-point line, on the ball side.

Now, if a break is underway, as soon as possible, the dribbler should pass to the “early bird” and run right through to the basket, looking for a return pass.  If no return pass, that player should continue to one of the corners or circle out to be able to begin the offense if a secondary break doesn’t happen.


Beginning with the above give and go look, the secondary break may have several options, depending on the coach’s philosophy for continuation of the break.

Some options might be:
*Pass to the next player coming down the lane (all cutters, not receiving the pass, should clear out of the lane and low post areas, so as to allow more cutters to come through without traffic);
*A cutter receiving the pass, but unable to penetrate all the way to the basket, may pass back out to an earlier cutter in the corner or back to the passer;
*If the first cutter cornered to the ball side, the “early bird” may pass to that corner and cut to the basket for a return pass, or the corner may pass to yet another cutter coming through or to a player posting low on the ball side;
*One of the best cuts is quite often the 4th or 5th player following from the rebound, snaking his/her way right to the basket for a pass.


When the fast break breaks down, or none of these options develop, we go into our ½ court set offense

**Remember: The fast break must be ‘fast’ – before the defense reacts fully and is back in a half court defense.  The breaking team has about 3-4 seconds to accomplish their break before it is compromised by being too slow.  In addition to speed, of course, passing, floor spread and timing of the cutters are all important details to be learned.