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Developing a Fast Break Offense in Basketball

To fast break means simply to push the ball upcourt before the defense has a chance to set up. The key to running an effective fast break is to get the ball to the middle of the floor (that is, away from the sidelines). The defense then must play one of three options: a pass to the left, a pass to the right, or the player with the ball keeps it.

The player with the ball must decide what to do by the time she reaches the foul line: pass it, continue driving, or stop and shoot. Don't force a shot on a fast break if it's not there. Good teams transfer right into their set offense.

When Sonny Allen was coaching at Old Dominion, he numbered certain spots on the floor and assigned individual players to run to each spot — such as a corner or wing — on the fast break. Even after allowing a score, Sonny had his players do this. This drill gave new meaning to the phrase, "See Spot run."

Why the fast break works

The offense usually outnumbers the defense, whether it's three on two, three on one, or two on one. The job of the ball handler on the fast break, especially in the latter two scenarios, is to force the defender to commit and then to hit the open teammate.

Drill: The three-man weave

This drill involves no dribbling. Three players, spaced about 15 feet apart, start out on the baseline. The player in the middle passes to a wing and then runs toward that player and behind him. The player who caught the pass throws it across to the third player, running toward and behind him as well. And so on. Do this until the player who catches the ball is just above the far foul line, and then treat the situation like a fast break: The receiver passes to one of his two teammates on the wing (a bounce pass) or keeps it and shoots or drives.

The benefit of this drill is that players learn to pass on the run and understand the concept of filling the lanes on the fast break.

Drill: The three-on-two, two-on-one

Position two defenders at the far end of the court — one at the foul line and one in the lane. Then start your three offensive players upcourt, either in a three-man weave or passing back and forth to simulate a fast break. When they approach the far end, you have a three-on-two situation. The offense must take the ball to the basket immediately.

When the defense retrieves the ball, either on a rebound or after a made basket, the two defenders run a fast break against the former offensive player who was closest to the offense's basket when the offense lost possession of the ball. The two other players remain on defense when the ball returns to that end of the court.

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