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Early offenses and secondary break.

Bringing structure and flexibility to your fast break

Basketball coaches would do well to add a planned attack to the end of their fast break. It can not only enhance their team discipline and organization, but increase their potential for easy baskets before entering into their motion game.

Another meaningful advantage to the complementary offense is that it can spread the floor for numerous jump-shot opportunities while working the ball into the post.

The accompanying diagrams show how all this can be done with an early offense, four counters, and two special plays.

Diag. 1, Early Offense:

The players fill their lanes as shown with 1 receiving the outlet pass from 5 at the free-throw line area. The receiver (1) then dribble-attacks up the middle into the front court, while 2 and 3 sprint up the sidelines, looking for the pass.

The 4 and 5 rebounding posts are interchangeable. The one who doesn't get the rebound (4) will sprint down the middle to the strong-side block, always looking for the ball.

The trailer 5, who originally rebounded the ball, does not cross halfcourt until the ball does. He then becomes the high post.

If anyone other than the post players (5 and 4) rebound the ball, 4 will run the floor automatically and 5 will trail.

Instead of making 4 and 5 interchangeable, you may choose to have them run the same spots all the time. It may slow the break down, but it will allow you to keep players with certain skills in the same spots every time.

Before entering into the secondary break, various opportunities may arise for wide open shots or layups. Options to look for in Diag. 1:

5 to 2, or 5 to 3, or 5 to 4 - for layups or jump shots off a baseball pass.

5 to 1 to 2, or 5 to 1 to 3 - for a jump shot or layup.

5 to 1 for a dribble up the floor for a pull-up jump shot.

5 to 1 to 2 (or 3) to 4 for a layup.

Note: Most of these options occur without the ball ever touching the floor. If none of these options present scoring opportunities, the secondary break will begin.

Diag. 2, Secondary Break:

The players are now in the front court position, ready to run the secondary break continuity. 1 has veered to ball side, 2 and 3 are extended on the opposite blocks behind the 3-point lane, 4 is posting up above the block, and 5 is ready to receive the ball at the top of the key. This is a deadly option for a good outside shooting big man.

1 can work the triangle with 2 and 4. If he reverses the ball to 5 (as shown), 4 will seal his man inside and look for the pass.

2 begins his cut over to the block, then moves up to set a back-pick for 5.5 then reverses the ball to 3, who is v-cutting over to the wing, as 4 flashes across the lane, looking for the ball from 3.

3 looks for the lob pass to 5 breaking to the opposite block. 2 pops up to the top of the key after back-screening. If his man has helped on the lob, 2 will have an excellent three-point shot.

Diag. 3, Secondary Break (continued):

If no shot is available, 2 reverses the ball to 1, who has v-cut on the wing. 5 posts for a one-count, then screens across for 4, who flashes under the screen to the ball side.

Meanwhile, 2 has down-screened for 5, who flashes to the top for the pass from 1 and open jumper. 4 and 2 seal inside for the post pass.

At this point, the offense is in a 3-around-2 set and ready to begin motion, continuity, or zone defense.

The four counters that follow appear to be virtually identical to the regular early offense. They differ in that they change the pattern slightly and offer uniquely different options.

These counters add to the effectiveness of the secondary break as well as create their own scoring opportunities. Though counters are generally called out ahead of time, they can be initiated by player movement.

Diag. 4, Counter 1, "Loop":

The same early offensive set is executed until right before the lob action to 5. This time, instead of taking the lob pass, 5 will loop around and screen for 4, while 2 pops up as always after screening and receives the pass from 3.

Diag. 5, "Loop" (continued):

After receiving the ball from 3, 2 looks inside for 4 curling across the lane off 5's screen. If 4 is not open, the secondary break (as shown in Diag. 3) is completed.

Diag. 6, Counter 2, "Down":

As the game progresses, the defense will begin to anticipate the lob action from 5. This time, as 5 reverses the ball to 3, he will take three steps as if going for the lob, then stop to screen for 2, who comes off 4 up to the top for the open jumper.

For the timing to be effective, 2 must jog his man to the block instead of sprinting, then explode off the screen for the top.

The secondary break has been completed, as shown in Diag. 3.

Diag. 7, Counter 3, "Swing":

The early offense is run the same as before with 5 receiving the pass at the top of the key. Instead of reversing the ball to 3, 5 ball-fakes to 3 and hits 1 v-cutting to the wing. 2 runs the same back-pick across, regardless of whether the ball is reversed to 3 or swung back to 1.

This time you have 5 coming down the lane off 2's ball-side screen, for the pass from 1. The secondary break is completed, as shown in Diag. 3.

This option may be called out ahead of time or initiated by 5's pass back to 1.

Diag. 8, Counter 4, "Backdoor":

Defenses eventually end up overplaying the pass from 1 to 5, exposing themselves to this backdoor pass. The play is not called out. If 5 is denied the reversal pass from 1, he will step to the ball, then bolt right down the middle of the lane, looking for the bounce pass.

If 5 is still denied the backdoor cut, he may v-cut back to the top of the key, and the secondary break is completed.

Diag. 9, "Backdoor" (continued):

If the backdoor attempt to 5 is not open, 3 will v-cut and replace 5 at the top of the key. At this point, the same player movement continues with 3 and 5 in different positions.

4 v-cuts across the lane, looking for the ball from 3, who has received it from 1.2 sets a back-pick and 3 will now pass to 5 and come off the pick for the lob from 5. The same options finish the secondary break, as shown in Diag. 3.

The following special plays come out of the secondary break set, but hit the defense with something entirely different than what they are anticipating.

Diag. 10, Special Play #1:

1 dribbles across the top off a pick set by 5 at the top of the key, as 2 begins his normal v-cut to the top. 2 sets a back screen for 5, who, after screening for 1, drives for the hoop.

The ball-handler (1) has four options: He can shoot off 5's screen, pass to 3 on the wing, pass to 4 sliding across the lane, or lob to 5 coming off 2's screen.

Note: 2, after screening, can flare out to the right wing, putting the offense in a 3-around-2 set, ready for motion or a continuity.

Diag. 11, Special Play #2:

Out of the same secondary break set, 1 passes to 2 v-cutting to the open corner. 2 looks for 4 posting up, while 5 and 1 set staggered screens for 3, driving for the top of the key.

Diag. 12, Special Play #2, continued:

2 dribbles up to the wing to improve his passing angle to 3 at the top of the key, and 3 looks for the open shot. 5 fills the open block spot to form the perfect triangle rebounding position with 1 and 4. If 3 does not have the shot, 1 can pop out to the wing ready to run the main offense.


1. Pass the ball up the floor whenever possible. We often get many of the front-court options without the ball touching the floor.

2. It is extremely important for everyone to sprint to his lane assignment. In non-pressing situations, we like to get the ball out of the net and over halfcourt in about three seconds after a made shot. This calls for a quick takeout by your post player.

3. Run the regular early offense off made or missed baskets and after free-throw situations, unless a counter, special play, or a directive to go right into the main offense has been called out.

4. Always run the primary break first as 1 comes up the middle, with 2 and 3 wide, and 4 running the floor. #1 must veer to either side by dribbling or by moving to the side that he passes the ball to, allowing 5 to trail to the top of the key. This initiates the secondary break.

5. As the ball is passed around the perimeter in the frontcourt early offense set, every player who touches the ball must try to enter the ball into the post.

6. Call out counters or special plays as the other team is shooting free throws or as your point guard is in the backcourt bringing up the ball. This will mix it up and keep the defense guessing.

7. Remember that the early offense can be run on either side of the floor. The point guard should mix it up to avoid predictability.

8. Practice moving into your motion, continuity, or zone offense right out of the secondary break. This should flow together fluently with no break in the middle.

Example: As shown in Diag. 3, when 5 catches the ball near the top of the key, the players will instantly continue right into the main offense.

9. To drill this system, we run two early offense drills every day:

5 on 0 - the coach calls out the option to be run on a make or miss and then shoots the ball. On a make, the players take the ball out quickly and begin the early offense. On a miss, they begin early offense by finding the 1 man quickly and attacking into the frontcourt.

5 on 5 - this is a similar drill except that we start with the five players we want running the early offense on defense. Again, we call out an option, counter, or special play ahead of time. Or we have the players run the regular secondary break and take what the defense gives them. The offense runs our regular motion or continuity. On the make or miss, the defense now becomes the offense and breaks down-court.

10. Run the special plays against man defense. The early offense, secondary break, and counters work equally well against a zone defense. We will usually just run the regular early offense into zone offense, and will occasionally mix in a counter.

This fast-break system is easy to incorporate because it utilizes the same set in every instance mentioned. Players are not constantly moving around to various spots doing something totally different on all the plays, making it easier for the players to remember, giving them countless options, and showing the defense different looks while maintaining a basic structure.

A simple motion or continuity at the end of the secondary break will put the defense constantly on its heels.

In addition to everything else, this system will make your continuity or motion offense much more effective because the defense won't get the chance to see it on every possession and learn the pattern or movement of the players.

By implementing this fast break into your system, you will be able to increase your high-percentage shots and get greater offensive productivity.
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Title Annotation:fastbreak strategy in basketball
Author:Udy, Marty
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Apr 1, 1999
Previous Article:Getting a little more out of your passing game.
Next Article:It's catching!

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