Develop Your Team's Fast Break Skills With the Four-Pass Drill

The Four-Pass Drill, which calls for four quick bullet passes to score a layup without dribbling, teaches basketball players to run and pass the ball at top speed.

Four-Pass Drill

Improve your team's passing and fast break skills with this competitive transition drill from Pratt High School (Kan.) Head Coach David Swank.

Four-Pass Drill (a.k.a. "Greenback Drill")

The Four-Pass Drill calls for four quick bullet passes leading to a layup without dribbling. (Improve your chest and bounce pass technique.) It teaches players to run and pass the ball at top speed. Too many times, we allow players to play at 80% effort in practice, yet we expect them to perform at top speed on game night. After you run the Greenback Drill for a right-hand layup/dunk, run it in opposite fashion to practice left-hand layups.

Emphasizes: passing, catching and finishing, all while running at full speed.


  • Line up players in three lines on the baseline; ideally, you should have between eight and 14 players
  • Position the middle line on the right block (the middle line player will act as a guard) with the other two lines on either side, approximately four feet in front of the baseline

Performing (see diagrams at end of article):

  • Start with two basketballs in the middle line
  • On whistle, first players from each line sprint forward at the same time
  • With the players working together, the middleman passes to the right man
  • Right man passes back to the middleman
  • Middleman quickly passes to the left man, who by now should be approximately at the high elbow on the opposite end of the court
  • Left man throws diagonal pass to the right man who dunks or lays it in
  • Middleman takes the ball out of the rim while the other two men run crosses
  • The passer for the layup sprints and touches the corner of the court, where a coach monitors the touch

The next group leaves as the first group passes the ball for the layup. There will be constant movement in this drill. If the ball is mishandled, dropped, or any sort of turnover happens, the group is immediately finished. The next group must be alert and start immediately. The turnover group must get their basketball back to the middle line. This is extremely important since only two basketballs are allowed in the drill.

Four-Pass Drill Coaching Keys

  • All scoring passes should be made so that the receiver catches the basketball outside the lane; too many times in transition, the pass is made late, resulting in a missed lay-up/dunk.
  • All passes should be caught with two hands. Many times athletes attempt to catch the basketball with one hand, resulting in a turnover.
  • Emphasize speed bullet passes. The player running the middle of the floor must develop the ability to swivel his hips and pass the ball as quickly as possible.
  • Set high expectations with stretch goals. For example, our varsity team's goal may be 54 points (27 baskets) in two minutes. If we do not meet this goal, there are consequences. If we want to go head-to-head with the junior varsity, the junior varsity gets a pre-determined head start.
  • Groups not running the drill should clap and encourage their teammates. This is a great way to identify leaders and build team spirit.
  • Typically, we run this drill for either two minutes (speed) or five minutes (conditioning). The number of players should not be divisible by three, this to ensure different combinations of players and force the players to communicate and talk during the drill.
  • Establish a personal record each season. This forces your teams to compete not just with themselves but also with the legacy of seasons past—e.g., our team went 24-2 last year; how do we compare with their performance of the Greenback Drill?

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