From Coach Battenberg’s book, You Can Run With Anyone.
I am often asked by coaches how they can get their players to run a better fast break. They claim to run the drills I suggested in past blogs, practice them daily, and even throw in some drills of their own. But still they can’t seem to get a smooth-running, offensive attack. Generally I advise patience and not to expect perfection right away. Live with the turnovers early and improvement will be coming soon. But there is one more bit of advice I can give anyone who contemplates adding a fast break or is just trying to improve their offense: Teach and improve your fundamentals.
Improved fundamentals will cut the turnovers almost immediately. But just like fast break drills, they need to be worked on daily in practices. Not every fundamental needs to be covered everyday, but a rotation and review of all important ones needs to happen in an organized manner. Usually these fundamentals can be incorporated into the warm up phase of the practice. Below is a list of the fundamentals that should be practiced and perfected in order to have a smooth, low turnover fast break attack.
V-cuts: Team breaks into three groups, three lines, both sidelines and middle. Run the length of the court but cut from side to side every three steps. Players push off their outside foot to change directions. The pattern should be sharp, V-shaped and not rounded off curves. This is a “quick change of direction” drill.
Jump Stops: Same setup as first drill, 3 groups, sidelines and middle. Run in a straight line and slightly jump to stop on two feet on a line or on command from coach. Drop the butt, bend the knees to get the center of gravity low for good balance. Front and rear pivots can be added to this drill too.
Passing: Partner passing, one ball, two players. Chest pass, Overhead, Bounce and Baseball Passes. Proper throwing motion, thumbs to floor, palms turn out. A good warm up drill later for fast break passing is the 2 Man Passing Drill around the court. Two players pass back and forth and remain 15 feet apart while always extending their arms out, snapping the passes, with thumbs to floor, palms out.
Dribble Drills: Use 4 groups of 3 players each if 12 players on the team. Up the court right handed, back left handed; inside/outside move at mid court; switch dribble at mid court; back dribble at mid court. Head up, eyes up.
Layups: Players need to be able to score right and left handed, off the proper foot, and dribble and shoot with the proper hand. Also, incorporate dribble moves into the drill.
Bank Shots: John Wooden thought they were important and they are, especially on the fast break. Practice the angle needed, be able to stop and go up to shoot quickly. Target area on the backboard is the upper corner of the shooter’s square. This drill can be run as an extension of the 2-line layup drill.
Rebound Outlets: Team breaks into two groups, outlet line and rebound line. Throw the ball off the backboard, rip it down with two hands, keep it higher than chin, make a strong outlet with a chest pass or overhead pass.
Bust Out Rebound Outlets: Two lines, two groups again. Grab a rebound off the glass, look to the outlet on the sideline, then step through and bust out with one or two dribbles. Use the inside hand to dribble, then jump stop and pass to the sideline, outlet man who has released up court.
Lane Running: Start 3 players in the key, say “Go” and they run the three lanes. Wide lane runners touch sideline at mid court after sprinting out. Post player rim-runs the middle. Players look back as they near mid court, continue running to the opposite end baseline. This drill is early season only, as players have other opportunities to practice lane running in more advanced drills. If some players are having trouble staying wide in season, then this drill can be revisited.
These are 9 important Fundamentals that need review throughout the season. They can and should be part of the daily warm up activities. In the beginning, I suggest covering 4-5 the first practice and the other 4-5 the second practice. This would be in Spring, Summer, or Fall Workouts, depending on when you start your season. After the initial instruction process, review them in groups of 3 over the next three practices and continue rotating. Eventually, in season, I would pick 2-3 to review each practice, depending on where you are in the season. Fundamentals are a great warm up activity and should not be ignored with your team. Improving these 9 fundamentals will improve your fast break and help your team become a much more efficient scoring machine. Insist on good fundamental basketball and your team will play sharper and with less turnovers.
If you are interested in learning more about Improving your Fast Break, check out Coach Battenberg’s book below.