Early Offense

Fast Break Action

Why the Need for Early Offense?

The main reason for early offense, accompanied by flow action, is to force the defense to react rather than act! This simply put is to advance the ball quickly into the front court areas and attack before the defense is able to become organized into a disruptive force.

As defensive specialists over the many years of coaching, we have found the most difficult teams to defend were the ones with offenses that pushed the ball into the front court hash mark areas in the time span of 2 to 3 seconds. This early offense push creates quick medium jump shots, or penetration lay-ups, or kick out passes for scores to occur before the defense had a chance to set up and disrupt any organized set play.

We have also found that when teams walked the ball up the court, they were much easier to defend because the defense was able to get its players back into positions near the basket were they could execute pressure denials, traps to disrupt the offensive flow and to force rushed shots as time on the clock became a factor.

| Keys to Success | Thoughts to Consider | Installing Early Offense | Case for Defense |


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Keys to Success

Before exploring the "How's" along with the "Whys" and "Whens" of Early Offense, it is often helpful to see the whole picture before the pieces of the puzzle are then put together. Strive to develop the following offensive mentality, attitudes, and abilities:

Counter defensive pressure before it takes its toll with early offense initiative.

Play disruptive, tenacious defense

Rebound with authority and determination

Push the ball at all times

Flow into set offense without disruption

End the offensive flow with an organized continuity offense

Go to offensive boards with determined aggressiveness



Some Thoughts To Consider

Key to Early Offense


  1. Transition begins with defense. Good defense provides for offensive mistakes and errors which are the foundation of a successful break.

  2. You cannot break without the ball. Go get it.

  3. Always look for the fast break opportunity on every possession.

  4. Never start break from dribble. Start dribble from run.

  5. A quick but safe outlet pass is the key to the fast break.

  6. Do not dribble when it is possible to pass ahead.

  7. When throwing a long pass, lead receiver to the basket (elbow).

  8. Anticipate and fill lanes quickly. Run wide and see the ball.

  9. Do not expect to get a lay-up every time. Look for the open jumper or bank shot.

  10. Last person down court does not cross half court until the break is stopped.

  11. Quick transition is a must in attacking zone defenses.

  12. Must be in better physical shape than any opponent.

  13. Receive passes with feet in air and make a jump stops.

  14. Go to the offensive boards. Must score to be successful.

  15. Most errors and turnovers are committed during the scoring phase of the break.



Game Strategies

Break on every possession





Installing an Early Offense

Fast Break Components


The key to the success of an Early Offense is in its precise execution and coordination. Get coaching done prior to, not during a game. Coach players not the system. It's not what you run, but how you run it that counts. Use the time tested "Whole-Part-Whole" method of teaching. Be creative and design your own offensive breakdown drills that will fit your specific needs and player abilities. Insist in correct spacing and timing along with precise footwork and execution at all times. Bad habits can be practiced as well as good ones.

| Coaching Objectives | Whole-Part-Whole Method | Breakdown Drills |

Coaching Objectives

  1. To develop the ability and attitude to look to break on every possession.

  2. To develop the ability to "Box Out" and establish good inside rebounding position.

  3. To develop the ability and intelligence to make the proper outlet/inbound pass.

  4. To develop the ability to kick (pass) the ball ahead and advance the ball quickly under control.

  5. To develop the ability to see the floor and make good decisions to counter various defensive pressures.

  6. To develop the ability to attack and score against the out numbered situations.

  7. To develop the ability and habit to anticipate missed shots and go to the offensive boards.


Teaching & Implementation

Execution not Play


Whole-Part-Whole Method

Introduce Early Offense goals and options, using visual means when available. On the court, demonstrate and explain all of the player roles and responsibilities. Then have the players walk through these basic options along with their defensive reads and counters. Next, employing the "Whole-Part-Whole Method" break down the Early offense into its components using a series of progressive breaksdown drills. One-on-One, Two Player Break, Three Player Break, Four Player Break and Five Player Break drills. Review and refine as needed during the rest of the season.

Lastly, go live, motor skills must be learned at game speed. You want to practice against good defense. Don't wait until game time. Motivate the defense. For example, have the defense make 5-6 stops (combination of defensive rebounds, offensive turnovers, and steals) before they can go to offense. No dummy defense! The toughest defense you face all season should be in practice. The offense will probably struggle at first. However, players will learn to adapt to the importance of creating leads and attacking defensive pressure.

Offense Introdution

Drills for Skills

Proven Transition Drills to Improve Individual Player Skills & Team Performance

CAUTION: Be a skills coach not a drill coach. Drills are just vehicles to teach and refine basketball skills and techniques. Pay close attention to details and demand proper footwork and execution at all times.

Drill: Wolf: One-on-One Full Court

Drill: Two Player Break Series

Drill: Three Player Break Series

Drill: Post Fly Three Player Break

Drill: "Michigan" Three Player Break

Drill: 3-on-2 / 2-on-1 Full Court

Drill: Continuous 3-on-2 with Trail

Drill: 5 Player Break (Back-to-Back-to-Back)

Drill: Longest Run: Free Throw & Press

Drill: Half and Full Court Scrimmaging

Note: These breakdown drills are not only excellent in developing a strong transition game, but also great for preseason conditioning.



The Case for the Defense

When teams continuously push the ball up the court and flow into early offense, it can prevent or hinder the best of preplanned defensive disruption scenarios. However, by applying defensive pressure immediately, it will not only disrupt any fast break and early offense flow, but it can also catch a team unprepared to counter defensive pressure on missed shots off guard, resulting in easy steals and baskets.

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Continue and learn about defensive transition and proven ways to combat early offenses.