Running the Fast Fast Break Offense

All offenses run some fast breaks. But how can we accelerate the fast break offense beyond the point of conventional wisdom? And how can we build our whole offensive system on this fast breaking?

This is where the title comes from. The fast fast break offense is designed to be really fast. Here is a twelve-point program on how to make it happen.

1) Run All Out

Players need to run all out when running a fast break. That’s obvious. Yet most basketball players run full speed seldom or never.  All-out physical effort is rare.

So, if you get your players to run full speed consistently, your fast fast break offense will start improving. However, this improvement will not happen overnight.

That is because the players must run full speed in practices, too. They must grow used to it.

2) Rotate Deep

Your players will not run full speed consistently if they play too many minutes. If they do, they will slow down. Either because they reserve energy or because they are exhausted.

Because of this, you must use a deep rotation. That is, at least ten players or two at each position. Then they can be expected to go all out all the time they’re on the floor.

The 11th and 12th players will be a big and a versatile perimeter player . They’ll be used when you run into foul trouble or have injuries. Or when you need something extra on the floor

3) Develop a Substitution Pattern

In a game, there is an almost infinite number of substitutions you can make. You can’t figure out the optimal subs one by one. There are too many options.

Work the other way around. Make the game fit your substitutions. In other words, develop a substitution pattern.

Decide in advance who substitutes for whom and when. Use the same substitution pattern from game to game. This gives the players an idea with whom they will play, when, and for how long. Gradually the players learn how they can best help the team win in those situations.

4) Get the Players in Shape

Your players must be in great shape. They must be endurable, quick, lean and athletic. Only then you can accelerate the offense – and keep it accelerated.

When your players get in better shape, they will not play for any longer. Instead, they will play more intensively.

No matter how well-conditioned the players are, they’ll be tired after playing full speed for 28 minutes or so. But the better-conditioned they are, the faster your fast fast break becomes.

5) Keep the Tactics Simple

Complicated tactics slow down the the offense. So, keep the fast fast break tactics simple.

Keep the players’ roles flexible. Run the floor full speed in straight lines. Keep the paint open for cuts and drives. Pass the ball forward. Attack straight away.  Go all the way to the rim or find an open three-pointer.

6) Build on Small Advantages

Sometimes you create a big advantage over the defense and take a shot right off the fast fast break.

But more often the created advantage is too small for a good shot right away.  The on-the-ball defender may be half-a-step late, or a weak side defender may be a step too deep in the paint.

The fast fast break must utilise these small advantages. Otherwise the gains of the fast fast break are not worth the energy expended.

So, your half-court offense must be such that you can utilize the small advantage created by the fast fast break.  You flow right into the half-court offense rather than stop and set up a set play.

7) Run a Dynamic Half-Court Offense

If you run the fast fast break offense, your half court offense must be dynamic. That’s because you have recruited and coached your players to fit the fast fast break.

It means that you have quick, lean, athletic players. They cut better than post up. Run better than wrestle. They fit a dynamic half-court offense better than a static one.

8) Extend Your Defense

You can run fast breaks out of any defense. But if you seriously run the fast fast break offense, you will extend your defense.

That’s because you will have a deep rotation quick, lean, athletic players. They are a great fit for defending full court.

9) Practice Stealing Without Gambling

A steal provides a better opportunity to run a fast fast break than a defensive rebound does. So, you can enhance your fast fast break offense by getting steals.

That is not hard to do. Pressure the opponents full court.  Aggressively overplay the passing lanes. Or simply tell your players to go for steals. And so on.

The problem is that there is usually risk involved in steal attempts. If you don’t get the ball, you get  out of the defensive position.

There is no short-term solution to the problem but a long term solution there is. Practice the tactical and technical of stealing without gambling.

10) Improve Relevant Techniques

In the fast fast break, the players must pass, dribble and shoot while sprinting full speed. While acquiring the relevant skills, the players must run full speed at practice, too.

This is often ignored by coaches. Many seen to assume that technical skills to be used while running full speed can be acquired while running half speed or even standing still.

At practice players certainly can’t run full speed the whole time. That would exhaust them and cut the practice time too much. A balance must be found.

11) Recruit Athletic Players

Through practice, you improve players. However, their strengths remain their strengths and their weaknesses remain their weaknesses.

So, when getting ready to run the fast fast break, recruit quick, lean and athletic players, who are willing to run full speed.

This means that sometimes you give up talented players. Different players excel in different systems.

12) Run the Fast Fast Break Patiently

Improving a great fast fast break offense takes time – not just weeks or months but possibly years.

You must recruit and develop great athletes. You must teach them proper technical and tactical skills.

Most organisations, teams, and coaches feel they don’t have have enough time. Most people feel they must win immediately.

If you have the time and the patience necessary, running the fast fast break offense can give a competitive edge. Developing the offense takes time, but once you’ve done it, it’s really difficult for anyone to stop it.

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