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How to coach and teach the sideline secondary basketball fast break

This offense originated many years ago to combat the full court defenses that teams utilized whenever a free throw occurred. It was quite successful and was practiced over and over from the free-throw line set-up as shown in these diagrams that follow.

Until that time, most teams used the more conventional type break where the ball is brought down the middle with two players filling the outside lanes.

sideline1.jpg (31658 bytes)Diagram #1 on the left - shows a very good way to practice this type of fast breaking offense. That is to say, use it whether or not the free-throw is successful. For simplicity it is being shown after a successful shot; however, it works as well from a rebounded missed attempt. 

Today, I'm seeing teams use the conventional and sideline fast break in conjunction with one another. Most of these teams seem to use the break at every opportunity. After a rebound, or successful goal the use the sideline break, but upon a steal they revert to the conventional type break.

Of the two, I think the sideline is more effective since most team defenses, today, try to drive the ball handler to the sideline and most offenses begin with an entry pass to a wing. The sideline has more quick hitting scoring possibilities and is quite adaptable in allowing a smooth transition into a chosen half-court offense. In these illustrations, you will see the sideline break being utilized with Coach Don Meyer's "Big Dog" concept. Here the objective is for your tallest player to consistently beat his defensive counterpart down the court and set up his low post ball-side position.

Description & Player Responsibilities:

  • #4 (Safety) is usually the power forward and best on the team at throwing a baseball pass the length of the court. His first duty in this situation is to block 5 off the board. He should be a good rebounder and must NEVER let a successful free-throw hit the floor. If the shot is good, he grabs the ball out of the net and jumps out-of-bounds, out of the way of the bank board, and looks at the net on the other end. (This gives him full vision of the entire court.)

  • #5 (Big Dog) is usually the center, best pivot player, and tallest player on the team. His job is to block out 3, get any missed shot coming off the rim on his side or front of the rim. As soon as he sees the shot is successful, he runs as fast as possible down the center of the court to the other end and establishes a low-post position.

    (NOTE: Players #4's and #5's positions are interchangeable. For example, if #5 rebounded the ball from a defensive set, #4 would assume the role of "Big Dog" and #5 would be the "Safety" player.)

  • #3 (Wing) is usually the quick forward. His first duty is to block 3 off the board and rebound any missed shot coming off the front of the rim. As soon as he realizes the shot is successful, he releases and fills the left hand lane on the fast break.

  • #2 (Fly) is usually the shooting guard, good ball handler. He fills the right lane always looking back over his shoulder for a long pass. If none is there from teammate 4 he continues on down court.

  • #1 (Outlet) usually the Point Guard and perhaps the best dribbler on the team. Although the least amount of dribbling the better chance for success of the sideline fast break. His first duty is to prevent 4 from retrieving his own missed shot; however, as quick as he see the shot is successful, he breaks down the right lane in pursuit of teammate 2 also looking for an outlet pass from teammate 4. If none comes he button hooks and cuts back to take 4's inbounds pass. In either instance he needs to get the ball into teammate #2's hands quickly as possible so he can feed Big Dog #5 cutting down the middle, or after #5 seals and posts anyone who might be guarding him at the moment.

    The secret to this is that you get the ball in-bounded before the defense has time to get set-up.

    Another thing that usually helps is a fact that Big Dog is usually guarded by the slowest player on the opposing team. If Big Dog hustles, nine times out of ten he will get a lay-up before the half-court defense can get organized during the secondary break.

sideline2.jpg (35646 bytes)Diagram #2 - Sideline Fast break - Blocking Out

In this illustration, the free-throw was successful. All defensive player break in unison immediately as soon as the realize the shot go in the rim.

Player #4 grabs the ball out of the net, runs out-of-bounds and looks at the basket at the far end. This gives him a clear vision of the entire floor. His first thought is a long baseball pass to #2 at the far end or a long inbound pass to his outlet #1. If neither possible, player #1 suddenly button-hole-cuts back toward #4 to take the inbounds pass.

Player #1 should turn before putting the ball on the floor to prevent being called for a charge. Player #2 should be open for a pass and player #1 must always keep in mind the entire success of the sideline break depends how quickly the ball can be in #2's hands and how quick "Big Dog" can post-up. #2 should take no more than one dribble before passing to #2. (Should the opponents be able to deny such a pass to #2, then the pass is made to the Wing #3 on the far side of the court. If this occurs, "Big Dog" would post on #3's side of the court and normal play continue.

 Continued to next page

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