A Fast Break Drill That Makes Running Teams Better
“Figure 8 the Wide Way” is not the traditional, old-school figure 8 with tight weaving down the middle of the court. This Figure 8 teaches players to run wide and hard, to jump stop when receiving a pass, and to throw long, cross-court, two-handed chest passes. There is no dribbling, no traveling (of course), and no bounce passes. The drill sets up with three lines of players on the baseline. The first middle line player has the ball and starts from the baseline, while the other two participants are wide, on the sidelines, and a couple of feet up from the baseline.
A. The action starts with a chest pass to a wing, and then the extended figure 8 motion begins.
B. The middle man (3) goes behind the teammate he passes to (1), and heads for the sideline so he can touch it by mid court. (Diagram 1)
C. Wing (1), receiving the pass, catches and comes to a jump stop without traveling.
D. The opposite wing (5), takes off down his sideline when the initial pass is made, making sure he is near enough to touch his sideline at mid court.
E. A second chest pass will now be made all the way across court, to (5) from (1), somewhere past the mid court line, at the opposite end of the court. (Diagram 1)
F. This second pass should be received with a jump stop also. Receiver (5) must maintain balance and not travel after catching the pass as he waits for the original middle man (3) to get nearer the basket.
G. The original middle man (3) runs down the sideline and sprints hard to receive a pass from the wing (5) as he (3) cuts to the hoop for a layup. (Diagram 1) Any missed layup must be made before the action proceeds back the other way.
H. The original outlet man, wing (1), sprints to the basket and follows up any missed shot, then takes the ball out of the net, pivots, and prepares to start the drill going back the other way. (Diagram 2)
I. The first shooter, the original middle man (3), swings through and under the basket to the other sideline. (Diagram 2) He sprints and gets wide in his lane so he can receive the first outlet pass in this return trip. (Diagram 3)
J. Wing (5), who made the pass for the first layup, swings under the basket, gets wide so he can touch the sideline at mid court, and receives a cross court pass from (3) to continue the figure 8 coming back. (Diagram 3)
K. The new middle man (1) will get the layup on the original end to finish this group’s turn. (Diagram 3) After the first group scores the second time, the next three in line now take their turn up and back repeating the Figure 8 Drill. The three players who have just finished their “up and back” will move to a new line and wait their next turn. (Diagram 4)
After the team became familiar with the Figure 8 Drill, I added a second ball so that the following groups could start immediately as a preceding group was finishing their lay up. This saved time and kept the action rolling.
As in all my drills not having defense, the shot had to be made before going to the next step. I tried to give all players at least two or three turns up and back in each drill, but we would do more turns early in the training season to improve execution. As in other fast break drills with no defenders, we did not stress over turnovers. The nearest player just chased the ball down and made the next pass. We wanted to keep the pace up and the drill moving by encouraging players to sprint-out, get wide, and keep going. They got better and had fewer turnovers because we worked at the speed game daily.
I introduced this drill early in the practice season and ran it up to 10 minutes while teaching it each day. Eventually, Figure 8 was used as a warmup, fundamental review drill that only went for 3-5 minutes a practice, every third day.
Key Teaching Points for “Figure 8”
- There are only six passes needed in this drill; Three up and three coming back. All passes should be caught and thrown with two hands.
2. No bounce passes allowed. There is no defense, so no bounce passes are needed.
3. No dribbles allowed. Time the pass to cutters going to the basket.
4. The cross-court pass will be hard for them to throw in the beginning, but they will learn, get stronger, and get better at it.
5. When returning to the lines at the end of their turn, players should go to a new line from where they previously started.
6. If the outlet pass is to the left wing, the middle man will end up with a left-handed layup.
7. Encourage left and right outlets so players learn to make full speed layups with either hand and with confidence.
8. Groups must score on each end. If a shot is missed, it must be rebounded and put back in the basket before proceeding.
9. Yes, JV and Frosh teams can run this drill too, not just Varsity. They may have trouble at first, especially the weaker, smaller players, with the cross court pass, but they will get stronger and better with repetition.