Pushing the ball up the court is second nature for me. It was drilled into my head as a high school and college player, and I did my best to instill the same fast break mindset into the players that I coached. A run-the-ball mentality doesn’t happen overnight, but by using drills that focus on the fast break, and consistent encouragement, your team can learn to move with ease into transition offense.
A Fast Break Mentality
Make sure your players know from day one, that they are going to be a fast break team. Explain what it will take to become a great running team and the advantages they will gain from the effort they put in. How they can get easy baskets and win games.
Set the Expectations of Hustle
To be an excellent fast break team your players need a different mindset. They need to hustle throughout practice. Sprint when they meet you at the baseline and when they line up for drills. They need to make hustling a habit. Not only will this help get them in shape, but it will also build their fast break mindset.
Push The Ball
We ran our transition offense up the middle of the court, but many teams run sideline breaks, the key is to move the ball up the court quickly. Normally one thinks of a fast break happening after a shot is missed, but a fast break mindset will help even after your opponent makes a shot. If your inbounder is trained to get the ball out of the net and hit a guard right away, you can often beat your opponent up the court and score before they can set up defense. Push the ball!
Start With The Rebound
You can’t run the ball if you don’t have it. Teach your players how to rebound and then look up the court and find an outlet. A quick outlet pass from the rebounder leads to a great fast break. If the ball bounces long off the rim, the rebounder may push the ball up themselves, but when the rebound happens inside, it’s best if your players learn to be strong with the ball, turn to the outside of the court and look for an outlet pass.
Passing Is Faster Than Dribbling
Every basketball coach has heard this before, and it’s true, so why not take advantage of it. Emphasize to your players to look up the court. As mentioned, after a player gets a rebound they should pivot and look up the court. When a player receives an outlet pass, they should turn and look up the court. A fast break mindset means looking up the court. Start building this habit during practice. For ball handling drills, make sure your players keep their heads up. Praise your players when they push the ball, and encourage them to look up the court when they forget. Do you have drills where you can push the ball more? Look at your practice plan and see where you can highlight passing.
Fast But In Control
As Coach John Wooden used to say, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” Have your players push the ball, but also emphasize control. When players rush, they make mistakes. They need to learn to look up the court and read the defense. The more they practice doing this at a fast pace, the better they will get. Controlled quickness will limit turnovers.
A fast break team tends to have more turnovers. Of course, you don’t want them, but that’s what happens when you push the ball more. Prepare your players by pushing the ball a lot in practice, and there will less mistakes.
Consider Defenses That Compliment Being A Running Team
Aggressive defenses can add to your opportunities to run transition. This isn’t a necessity but it can be helpful. When you get other teams off balance, you have more opportunities to steal the ball and get easy baskets. A running mentality should be integrated throughout your game.
Instill A Fast Break Mindset Into Drills
When you run a rebounding drill don’t forget to emphasize the outlet. When running basic laying lines, don’t allow lazy passes, set the expectation of precision and speed when passing to the next person in line. If possible, add an outlet to your favorite drill. It’s the little things that make a difference. Remind your players to push the ball during drills and remind them during scrimmages. Think fast break all the time, and your players will too.
Fast Break Drills
Your drills don’t have to be fancy. Simply work on having your players do the drills with a focus on pushing the ball up the court under control. Basic ball handling, passing, rebounding, and shooting drills, when done with a fast break mentality, will help your team become better at transition offense. Then, in no time, a fast break mindset will become second nature for your team during drills, scrimmages, and games.
5 Basic Fast Break Drills