Every player I meet or talk to wants to play fast. They want to get out, push the ball up the court and try to score as quick as possible — which is great! However, the vast majority of these players do not understand what it means to play fast effectively. Getting out and pushing the ball is an excellent way to play because it creates the ability to attack offensively before the defense gets a chance to set up which can create easy scoring opportunities. Yet, before you can really commit to playing fast, there are several things that must be established in order to do it effectively.
- Every player must SPRINT, every possession!
This is a must in order to play the fast-paced style that is desired. It’s a lot easier to say you want to play fast than it is actually doing what is necessary in doing so. With each player sprinting full speed to whatever spot that you decide is best, it puts the defenders already back in a tight spot on who to cover. If your wings have sprinted and the defenders are shading their way, the big running the middle of the floor will be open. If the defenders decide to protect the paint and stay inside with the big who has sprinted, the wings will be open if they have hustled down the floor. However, even if one player fails to do his part in sprinting down the floor, easy shots will be much harder to come by. This is why it is imperative that each player sprints every time.
- Spacing is crucial.
Full court offensive spacing is just as important as half court offensive spacing, perhaps even more so since the defense is at a numerical disadvantage and poor spacing can lead to easier coverage.
- Quick correct, decisions lead to quick and easy buckets.
This usually falls on your primary ball handler. He/she must be able to survey the floor, determine how the defense is playing and quickly make the correct decision on how to attack. But it also falls on the other players once the ball is in their hands. This brings me to my next point.
- Know what shots you want out of your transition offense.
Playing fast effectively doesn’t mean hoisting up the first sliver of an open shot from anywhere on the floor. You must determine what you feel is an acceptable shot, not only from where, but by whom. We tell our guys that we will take a room and rhythm 3 from a shooter, a post shot from first big running the floor, or an aggressive attacking move towards the rim. If none of these are available, we will settle into our half court offense and look to run the next chance we get.
- Expect, correct, and learn from mistakes.
You have to be willing to live with turnovers at first because that is the nature of playing fast. There will be more possessions, which in turn will produce more turnovers, not to mention the likelihood of more turnovers due to the speed at which you are trying to play. You must use all methods available to you in order to show what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to correct what went wrong, and in time these numbers will decrease.