Basketball Transition Offense

Working with young players demands that when you construct a practice plan you must think 10 years in advance because what you teach them now is how they are going to play as seniors. It is not important what you like, or what you think is good, what players like or want, but what the game demands of a player. Today, we are going to talk about basketball transition, both offense, and defense, and we are going to discuss some key points that you need to work on with your team.

1. Transition offense

  • 1 on 0
1 on 0 fast break


Running a break 1 on 0 is pretty easy, right? Or there is much more to it? 1 on 0 just means that there is nobody in front of your players, but this does not mean that nobody is chasing them. In fact, coaches insist that no matter the odds of catching the player that has an open path to the basket, the defense has to run and do their best because there might be a miss, a slip, maybe the player with the ball will get too comfortable and will slow down.

If nobody is chasing your player, he should be thought to go and finish with his stronger hand, right? But if there is a defender chasing him and gaining, there are some things that he should consider doing:



1. Try to get in front of the defender and bump him a bit and disrupt his movement.

2. Go as fast as he can toward the rim and try to protect the ball with his off hand on the layup.

  • 2 on 1

In 2 on 1 situations there are some rules that, me personally, like to make:

  •   No shots. It is either a layup/dunk or a foul.
  •   Ball should be in the hands of a better ball-handler.
  •   No passes in between. This way there is a better chance for a turnover and you are slowing down the action.
  •   No running too wide. In the end, you want to approach the basket at the elbows.


Let us analyze the video above. First, we could see some bad transitions, the first three of them to be precise. If we analyze play by play what was wrong, we are going to come up with these conclusions:

1. They were Slow. You can't let your players run slow in transition. The only time a player can slow down a bit is the ball handler in the moments when he is entering the paint area because of the decision making in regards to what the defense is doing.

2. In the first three breaks we could see 3 bad passes because they were late and the distance between the two offensive players was shrunk so the defense had more time and space to react.



There is that one old free throw line rule that I always preach to my players and it says that if you want to make a pass do it before the line (1) or, you can do it inside the paint only if the defense is highly extended towards the ball-handler (2).



No pass zone


Extended defense

  • 3 on 2

When we are talking about 3 on 2 transition offense, if you want to make your practice effective, then you have to limit your players up to 2 passes max and everything more then that is basically 5 on 5 because there is enough time to consolidate on defense.

When we are talking about this transitional situation, there have to be some rules established:

  • The worst-case scenario in terms of finishing has to be jump-shot, but it has to be a wide open one.
  • If it comes to a shot, I personally prefer that the player who is going to take it is the one who is running the middle court lane. If we presume that the players are running fast, the ones that are on the wings will have a hard time to keep the balance (they are likely to lean while shooting), while the player in the middle will just have to stop and shoot a free-throw line type of shot.
  • Only 2 flashy passes are allowed. More then that is 5 on 5



If we go and analyze what we just saw in the video, we are going to conclude that most of the times defense was able to put a shooter under pressure. No, there were no blocked shots, but there were no open ones either. And this is because the wing players were running inside and towards the paint area. If we stop and take a look at some senior basketball, NBA or Euroleague, we are going to see that nowadays the wing players are running towards the corners to take a three-point shot. If we think about it, this court geometry is going to make some big problems for the defense because there is much more ground to cover this way.



Again we have the same result and just because the players are thought to pass the ball immediately to an open man, and the start of those passes are occasionally before they even are passed the center. Flight of the ball is enough for the defense to react, and the next pass that s available is just not good enough to make some open looks.


What we really want to do is to bring the ball sideways, we want our 2 wings to be in the corners. We want to attack the basket with dribble penetration with the maximum of a fake and one more follow up dribble and make a decision based on what the off-ball defender is doing. We have two choices:

1. If the second defender steps up to close the penetration lane, then the pass goes to the wing on the strong side of the offense.

Stoping the penetration

2. If the second defender decides to keep his ground or to anticipate the pass to the strong side shooter, then the pass should go to the weak side wing.

Frozen defense


Let us see the video:


If you want to learn more about transition basketball, go rent a DVD by clicking on the link below:

Jan 30, 2019 Coach Viktor

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