Variety is the spice of life, or so they say. Basketball teaching and drilling could wisely use the same philosophy. New ways to review and refine your basic fundamentals are the “spice” you may need to keep your players involved and motivated. But keeping everything simple and consistent is the key to successful learning.
Set #3 of my Fast Break Drills gets right down to the basics of the outlet pass and attack. Where the previous Sets #1 and #2 involved groups of 3 players at a time, this Set breaks a fast break down to its bare essentials using only two players at a time. Even though I call this Set #3, I actually introduce it Day 1 and use it to introduce the 5 Man Numbered Break. As the season progresses, we revisit Set #3 once a week as a warmup drill to reinforce the basic fundamentals of outlet passing. In this way, Set #3 provides variety to the practice drills we do throughout the season and still keeps us reviewing the fundamentals a good fast break requires.
There are four basic outlet/inlets that are covered in Set #3. Each group goes up the court and does the first option on one side of the floor. Then after all groups are at the opposite end, each group repeats while returning up the opposite side of the court. This allows us to work on right and left side attacks, right and left outlets, and right and left dribble drives and shots. Thus, we work on both hands and both sides of the court while going 8 trips up and down the floor. Players are expected to jump high and rip the initial rebound, throw a crisp outlet pass, run the court in a sprint, and finish strong at the hoop. Any missed shot must be followed and put in the basket before that pair leaves the court.
The four sets of Fast Break Drill Set #3 are given below. Players pair up with a Big and a Perimeter Player in each group. In the Diagrams, I use a (4) and (2) as examples, but it could be (5-1) or (5-3) or other such combinations.
Drill #1 – Baseball Pass from Out of Bounds:
All pairs of players (a Big with a Perimeter Player) are stationed under the basket on one end of the court. The guard (2) shoots a short shot and hopefully makes it. If not, the Big (4) follows up and scores it, then takes the ball out of bounds. This is an important drill for the (4) or anyone who takes the ball out of bounds for you. First, make sure the Big takes the ball out on the correct side away from the backboard. A right hander takes it out on the left side of the key area and a lefty on the right side. The Big (4) must be sure to take it out deep enough so he will not step over or on the inbounds line as he throws a baseball pass to the perimeter player (2). The passer must put enough arc on the baseball pass so it will go over the top of defenders retreating, but not so high that the ball hits the ceiling or a low hanging scoreboard. The passer must not throw a curveball pass. This is avoided by turning the throwing hand outward with the thumb toward the floor as the pass is released. If the hand turns inward, a curve will result and the throw will be really hard to control or even catch. The receiver (2) must not leave early after the shot attempt. He can only take off after the ball goes in the basket. The (2) finishes with a layup and the (4) follows his pass down the court to set up for the return trip. (See Diagram #1)
This drill became a staple in my practices because it not only is needed for quick scoring strikes after an opponents’ made basket, but it also is very effective against full court pressure, and late game situations when a quick score is needed. You never know when you might need a good long passer, so training several players to do this skill can be a game-saver.
Drill #2 – Deep Outlet around Mid Court:
The second outlet is what I call a Deep Outlet, an overhead pass, to near mid court. It could be to a (2) or (3) wing runner or to the (1) if he can get far enough up court for a deep outlet once in awhile. The drill starts with the perimeter player throwing the ball off of the rim/glass as a missed shot for the Big to rebound. The (4) must go up high, rip down the rebound, pull it to his chin, and look to mid court for the deep outlet. The (2) waits until the (4) grabs the rebound before releasing to the mid court area for an outlet pass. The (4) then throws a two-handed overhead pass to the (2) around mid court. It is important to work on this deeper, two-handed outlet pass during this drill as it is the safest and strongest pass in this situation. Players will get stronger as you work this drill through the season and through their playing careers. Upon the catch, the (2) pivots, looks up the sideline as if to pass ahead, and then dribbles down the open lane. This emulates the situation of an open sideline and a (2) or (1) can fill the lane with a dribble. After the outlet pass, the (4) sprints the middle lane and cuts to the basket where the (2) hits him for a layup shot. The drill continues with a rebound and deep outlet on the other side of the backboard during the return trip. (See Diagram #2 below.)
Drill #3 – Short Outlet near the Rebounder:
This option is the standard missed shot outlet option. Again, (2) tosses the ball off of the backboard or rim for the (4) to get up high and rebound. The Big should scan his vision toward mid court and also see the short outlet where the (2) will be moving. After throwing an outlet pass, the (4) takes off up the middle lane and passes back and forth with the (2) running the outside lane. When the (4) gets near the top of the key area, he catches and jump stops before making a final feed to (2) for a layup. The drill will eventually continue up the opposite side for a layup with the other hand. No dribbles or traveling are allowed in this drill. (See Diagram #3 below.)
Drill #4 – Bust Out when Outlet Man is Covered:
The fourth drill is for Bigs who can’t find anyone open for the outlet pass. Rather than stand there with the ball and delaying any fast break possibility, the Big should get low, step through any defenders, and bust out of the congestion with a hard dribble or two. In this drill, we are working on the Big finding an open player ahead as opposed to dribbling all the way up court. The (4) dribbles with his inside hand, (left on the right side of the court) and then passes to the (2) who releases up court as the Big busts out. When (2) gets the ball, he dribbles up the open sideline and (4) runs the middle lane before posting up on the near block. Fundamentals we look for are a jump stop before the feed by (2) and a V-cut to “block up” at the low post by the (4). As in the other drills, this option repeats coming up the opposite sideline. (See Diagram #4 below.)
The key to running these 4 drills correctly is to make sure the players go hard and simulate the correct fundamentals you are wanting them to use in fast break situations. Poor effort or poor execution is not acceptable in any of our fast break drills, including these Two Man Drills.
After the 8 options are successfully completed in the Two Man Drills, we often move to 5 on 0 full court, a review of our Primary (missed shot) or Secondary (made shot) Breaks. Then we are ready for 5 on 5 work, such as the Rebound and Run Drill or ODO. For more on these 5 Man Drills, see earlier posts in my blog, “Rebound and Run” or “How to Get Them to Play Hard” or “Cycles.” Having a variety of drills that teach the important fundamentals of your Fast Break Attack is great for the players and coach alike. By rotating the three Fast Break Drill Sets during the practice week, your team can stay sharp and focused on the fundamentals needed to be successful.