Today’s game is often dominated by the fast break. Players want to run, fans want to see an up-and-down game, and coaches know that the fast break can be an effective offensive weapon.
Even if your offensive philosophy isn’t to fast break at every opportunity, you probably know that there is a place for it. Certainly you will fast break off of a steal or turnover, right? You probably want your players to go when the break is to your obvious advantage.
Well, what do you do when the break isn’t entirely to your advantage? You may simply slow it down and start running your offense and that’s fine. You may also wish to continue the attack at a more controlled pace.
This is what I term as the secondary fast break. Others may call it a controlled break. Either way, the objective is to continue to attack the defense even if the initial fast break opportunity isn’t available. Instead of resetting your offense, you simply progress into it via your secondary break offense.
This article isn’t about what type of secondary fast break you should install. You can find various fast break/secondary break sets and drills in our Transition Offense section. I also recommend checking out Coach Zach Keene’s Bomber Secondary Fast Break Offense if you wish to implement a specific secondary break option.
This article is all about setting some rules or principles that you should incorporate into your secondary break — regardless of the system you utilize. So, we’ll get right to it! Here are the Principles of an Effective Secondary Fast Break:
- Transition quickly from defense to offense. That means when you gain possession of the basketball, your first move is to start sprinting toward the mid-court line.
- As the ball moves past halfcourt, and if the offense has the defense outnumbered, take advantage of the fast break and attack the lane. If the defense has the offense outnumbered, set up into your secondary break. This principle will be more up to the point guard or the player dribbling the basketball. Of course, if the teammates don’t hustle in transition, they aren’t helping at all either (see #1).
- Do not force the attack if the number of defensive players equals the number of offensive players. In this instance, look to take advantage of 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 situations. The skill set of the offensive players will determine if they should attack immediately or if they should control the ball and move into the secondary break set.
- Utilize verbal communication / signals. The point man on the break has the ability to control the break via verbal cues. For example, if he yells ‘Go’, his teammates will know to break hard to the basket and look for the quick break attack. If he yells the secondary break name or even the word ‘Set’, his teammates will know to set up into the controlled break offense. And, if neither seems available, he may yell ‘Pull’ so his teammates will know to set up into the normal halfcourt offense.
- Whether in the fast break or the secondary break, it is important to be under control. The dribbler needs to be quick, but under control. The ‘runners’ also need to be under control for when they receive the pass. Turning the ball right back over in a break advantage situation is never a positive. Be under control at all times.
- In the fast break, the front 2 or 3 offensive players should be looking to get a layup. In the secondary break, they should at least look to get a short-range jump shot before anything else.
- Only look for the long-range or 3-point shot attempt when you are utilizing the trailer. The trailer may be the last player at the top or a player trailing to the wing for a kick-out pass.
- The best time to incorporate the secondary fast break is off of a turnover when the fast break isn’t really an option. You can also utilize your secondary fast break from a rebound and even after inbounding the ball after a made basket. You may even be able to apply your secondary break from the jump ball to get a quick score!
As I mentioned above, these rules are general and can apply to any type of secondary fast break offense. I will state, however, that your players should be taught that if they are ever in doubt about how to attack, they should control the ball and set up your normal halfcourt offense. Maintaining possession of the basketball and getting a high quality shot attempt is of greater importance than forcing yourself into a mistake.
Do you have any other tips or strategies for running a secondary fast break? Share in the comments below!