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Punching up your fast break.

By fast-breaking off your opponents' made free throws and employing a secondary break, a well-coached offense should be able to pick up an extra dozen points per game.

The keys to this "kingdom" is to run the break consistently and efficiently. The reason is simple. Many players, even the good ones, tend to relax when getting back on D after a successful free throw, and a swift, well-executed fast break can catch one or two of them napping.

The fast break can also be effective against a pressure zone defense because: (1) in a normal press, the back man is usually an outstanding rebounder who is playing underneath the basket, and (2) the lead man is usually a guard who sets up at the top of the press.

That means that whenever they want to press after converting a free throw, the two men will have to trade positions -- leaving nobody back on D for a long couple of moments.

Diag. 1 illustrates how we take advantage of this common occurrence. We tell our two low men on the blocks (4 and 5) to grab any made free throw right out of the net and to run the baseline on his side.

The rebounder (#4 in this case) tries to find the point guard (#I), who breaks parallel across the midcourt line to the side of the rebounder (#4).

If 1 is unable to break free, 4 must look for the forward (#3) on the high slot of the lane, who has broken toward midcourt.

Meanwhile, guard 2 is streaking down to fill the lane on the opposite side while the remaining big guy (#5) trails the play.

If the play is executed properly, 4 should be able to hit 1 just over midcourt with a baseball pass. The receiver will then hit the opposite guard (#2) streaking down the opposite lane for the open layup.

If 2 isn't open, 1 may dribble to the free-throw line and 3 may fill his lane for a 3-on-1 or 3-on-2 fast break.

If the primary fast break does not work, the offense can go to its secondary break to keep constant pressure on the defense and capitalize on the defenders shifting to get into their spots.

Though the secondary break can be used against a man defense, it works best against a zone defense. The best way to launch a fast break is by having your team get into the habit of fast-breaking every time it gets the ball.

Check Diag. 2. It shows the way a secondary break can be launched on a missed shot with 5 rebounding the shot and immediately outletting it to the guard on his side (point guard 1).

Forward #4 will streak to the opposite basket, 2 will fill the near lane, 3 will fill the opposite lane, and 5 will trail up the middle. The point guard (1) will dribble-drive toward the opposite foul line.

As you can see, by the time the point guard reaches the foul line, he has 4 in front of him to his right, 2 and 3 at the wings, and 5 trailing.

#1 can hold up momentarily for the trailer (5), then pass to 4 or either wing and then cut through the lane to the opposite corner, as shown in Diag. 3. Note: #5 does not cut to the hoop until 1 passes to the wing.

Diag. 3 shows 1 hitting 2, who then skip-passes to the opposite wing (3), as 4 cuts through the lane to set a pick (for 1) on the opposite side.

#3 can cheek the cutter (5) and hit him if he is open. If not, 3 can swing the ball to 1 just back of the 3-point arc.

If the defense has recovered, 1 may take the ball out to the top of the key and set up the regular half-court offense.

The advantage of running a secondary break in this fashion is that you have a man back in a safety position (trailer 5) until the ball has safely passed the foulline extended, and you have put the ball in the point guard's hands -- a happy circumstance any time the open shot is not there.

Whenever the fast break is executed well, you will be amazed at the additional good options that will come your way.

Also notice that whenever the initial break (from a made free throw) is unsuccessful against a pressing team, the secondary break almost certainly will work -- as it will be almost impossible for opponents trying to get back into a press to find their proper spots in time to stop the secondary break.


These complements to your fast break will enable you to show different looks and pick up a dozen extra points. They will also put a lot of extra pressure on the opponents for the entire game -- a very demoralizing land fatiguing] prospect for any defense.

We guarantee your players will enjoy being the recipient of so many easy scoring opportunities.
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Title Annotation:basketball
Author:Calabrese, Joan
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Dec 1, 1997
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