An ideal time to begin teaching your players the fast break is at the first team meeting for a new season. If you are a returning coach, this would be your initial 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 succeed. It also tends to build enthusiasm for your coaching too, because players love to play fast paced and score a lot of points.
Training for the fast break can begin during pre season conditioning in the fall. 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 lots of work on form running and sprints. We taught players to get to 90% full sprint within 50 feet (approximately half court), then “shut down” and cruise another 50 feet to a stop. The idea of “sprinting out” to start offensive transition needs to be ingrained in all players. A quick start is most important because it allows players to gage opportunities to beat the defense down the court. Getting to mid court before an opponent is the key to getting open early in an offensive transition. To accomplish this goal, we had to work on players’ Sprint Techniques and Starts before introducing a basketball to the process.
The Sprint Teaching Points Included:
1. Right handers, get low, lean forward on the left foot.
2. Right foot barely touching the ground, only the tip of the toes.
3. Hands should be in front of the body.
4. On the start, right elbow swings back hard as the right leg fires forward.
5. Head and shoulders stay low in first few strides before straightening up.
6. No foot shuffling on the take off. No false steps that waste time.
7. Get to near top speed as quickly as possible.
This training taught players 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. Sprinting drills were done in the gym or outdoors. In fact, we mixed inside and outside training, especially when weather was a factor. Jumping was also an important conditioner that we worked on early in the preseason. Long jump, high jump, box jumps, rim touches and dunking were some of the leaping activities that we included in our work outs. After these training sessions, we were ready to head into the practice season and start establishing our lane running indoors.
Key Teaching Points for Sprinting:
- Start teaching the Fast Break on Day One.
- Teach players how to Sprint Out.
- On the take off when sprinting, make sure no False Steps are taken.
- Sprint to near full speed by 50 feet and cruise the last 50 to a stop.