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Common Fastbreak Scenarios and How to Handle Them

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The game of basketball consists of two styles of play. One style is the half-court offense. This is where teams methodically run plays and set picks to create an open shot against a set defense.

The other style of play is the fast break. A fast break is when an offensive player runs the ball up the court in a hurry trying to beat the defense up the floor and create a lay-up or an un-contested jumper.

This article explains specific fast break scenarios that are common during games and drills that can be run to practice those situations.

2 on 1

The 2 on 1 should result in a lay-up every time. This situation could very well be the toughest play to defend in basketball. I teach that the key to this scenario is to make the defense commit. If I'm the point guard, I'm going to act as if I'm going to score every time I have the ball when it's a 2 on 1.

If I act that way then I can force the defense to commit to me and then pass to my teammate for an easy basket. When going at the basket, make sure you have a good angle to the hoop. Make sure your spacing is correct where the defense can't guard both you and your teammate at the same time.

Make sure that you aren't pulling up for a 15 foot shot in this situation or you will end up on the bench. To practice this drill, have two players start at mid-court with one defender at the foul line. See how it plays out. Let the players have free reign of their choices and allow them to think for themselves here.

When I work with players on this drill I coach it as much for defense as I do for offense. Make sure the offensive player learns that they must get the defender to commit to either him or his teammate.

3 on 2

This situation comes up many times each game and isn't much different than the 2 on 1 except for the fact that it is ok to not end up getting a lay-up. To practice this drill, line up a point guard in the middle and a wing on each side.

The defense should have a player near the basket and a player near the foul line. The point guard will take the ball and make the first defender commit to either the ball or a wing player.

If the player commits to the ball then the point should pass the ball to a wing player and go to the foul line extended of the side the ball was passed.

The wing player that gets the ball can attempt to score with a short jumper or a layup if it is there. Let the players play this one out as well. They will start to see what is open and what isn't open without even being told.

Most often the defense plays this well and forces a 15 foot jumper from the point guard. Do not allow more than 3 passes. In real life the defense will be caught up by the 3rd or 4th pass. This is a fast break drill not keep away.

3 on 1

This should be and easy lay-up. On the professional level it is as close to a guaranteed slam dunk as anything. The job of the point guard is to force the defensive player to commit here by making him stop the ball.

I still will coach him to stop near the foul line, but I don't mind if he dribbles until the defense tries to stop him. However, in most cases the defense will stop the ball and the point guard will pass to a wing for a layup.

Keep in mind that some coaches, will tell the defender to try and take a charge in this situation. Many point guards will pass while still moving forward and the defense will set up right in front of him and get ran over.

Some refs will call a charge on the play. That is why it is crucial to coach the jump-stop so the point won't run over any defenders. It is also near impossible for a defender to get from the foul line to the basket to take a charge on in incoming wing player. If he wants to try it, let him because he's going to get clobbered and called for a block at the same time.

4 on 4

This is one of my favorite drills. This drill is great for practicing both styles of play and gets in a lot of conditioning. It is also a very competitive. I encourage this drill to be run with 3 teams with 4 players on each team.

It is a full-court drill that involves offense and defense. This drill starts at half-court with 4 players on offense and 2 players on defense. The other 2 players on defense must remain at half-court until the ball is in play.

Once the point guard starts to attack the defense, the remaining defenders will run from behind in an attempt to stop the offense from scoring. If the offense scores, the defense gets the ball and immediately goes on offense and starts to attack the opposite basket.

The 3rd team of 4 is awaiting them with 2 defenders in a stacked position near the basket and the other 2 defenders near mid-court waiting for the point guard to cross. Once the point guard crosses the same thing takes place. If the defense steals the ball they are immediately on offense and so forth. The defenders should rotate positions so that sometimes they are trailing on the play while other times they are not.

A variation of this drill calls for defense to be played until the ball reaches mid-court. That means that once the offense scores or has it stolen, they are immediately on defense until the ball gets to mid-court.

This is only to be done in a more controlled advanced setting as compared to younger players who will struggle to get the ball to mid-court in some cases. Remember that the point to this drill is to realize that there is always defense coming to help and that you need to be quick and decisive when in transition.

We would play this drill so that the team who scored 7 first won the game. 7 was just our number, any other number can be used. Keep in mind that the players will get tired and that as they get tired the quality of play will suffer. It's a great drill to get them use to running fast breaks during games.

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