An ideal time to begin teaching your players about the fast break is at the first team meeting of the season. If you are a returning coach, this would be your first organizational gathering in the spring, following a just-completed season. For New Coaches taking over a program, it would be your very first meeting with the players. Selling your team on the opportunities a running game provides for exciting, high-scoring basketball will energize the players for the work needed to make things succeed. It also tends to build enthusiasm for your coaching too, because players love to play fast and score a lot of points.
Training for the fast break can begin (or continue) during pre season conditioning. While distance running is important for building stamina, sprinting is the backbone of a good fast break attack. Basketball is not a marathon, but rather a series of short sprints. The team that gets from one end of the court to the other quickly and more consistently should have the advantage in most cases.
My fall conditioning sessions consisted of a warm up jog, stretching exercises, and then work on form running and sprints. We taught players to get low, lean slightly forward, use an off-arm swing for acceleration, no false steps on take-off, and then get to 90% full sprint within 50 feet (approximately half court). The finish is “shut down” and cruise another 50 feet to a stop. This drill taught them to “Sprint Out” as we liked to say on our transition offense and defense. Getting from one end of the court to the other before the majority of our opponents was always a goal on offense and defense. Our fall training Sprint Drills helped to instill this mentality into the whole team. These sprinting drills can be done in the gym or outdoors. In fact, it is a good idea to mix inside and outside training, especially when weather is a factor. I also liked to add in Jumping Drills like: High Jump, Long Jump, and Box Jumping. Defensive Slides were added eventually to condition the mind and body for the importance of closing out, getting low, and having a quick kick-out first step.
After these outdoor training sessions, we were ready to head into the practice season and start establishing our lane running, rebounding, and defense indoors.
Key Teaching Points:
- Start teaching the Fast Break on Day 1.
- Teach players how to Sprint Out.
- Make sure sprinters make no false steps on take-off, (shuffling of feet).
- A front or reverse pivot into a sprint is good transition practice too.