Playing Through the Trailer

Updated: Mar 31

When the Pitch Ahead Pass or Attack the Middle Third phases do not produce a shot we look to the last option in our transition attack, The Trailer.


The goal of a transition opportunity is to create a high-efficiency shot before the defense can get set. Theoretically, we want players to take the path of least resistance to get that shot. So in teaching our transition system we want to give players simple reads that allow them to make decisions quickly. The decision that will look at in this post comes when a Pitch Ahead Pass is not available and a player's Attack of the Middle Third does not create a shot. At this point, we are flowing into the last layer of transition offense, playing through The Trailer.


The trailer serves the dual purpose of taking advantage of a collapsed defense and being the trigger to flow from transition to half-court offense. Against a collapsed defense the trailer is often presented with open catch and shoot threes or chances to attack long closeouts. If those Attack opportunities are available then we would encourage the trailer to take them. If no scoring opportunities present themselves for the trailer he simply completes the next action that triggers our half-court offense.




Establishing the Trailer -

One teaching point that can be helpful to transition design is establishing defined roles for players. If players know exactly what they are responsible for in transition we can hopefully increase the speed at which we operate. Determining how the ball will be inbounded on made shots, which players will Rim Run or sprint to the sidelines, and who becomes the trailer are all aspects we could choose to define for our players. In preparation for this post, I put this question out to Twitter to see how other coaches establish their trailer.



Trailer Design -

There are many ways to determine who becomes the trailer in transition. What I have taught over the last four years could be called a combination "Two Man Trailer" system. On the vast majority of possessions, it will either be the 4 or 5 man that arrives in the trailer position. We are not going to micromanage every transition opportunity, but we want to have a few simple rules that help our 4/5 men know who should be the Rim Runner and who should be the Trailer. In a back and forth game like basketball, we are not going to be able to perfectly control every possession, but if we establish a few clear principles we can make our decision making on the floor cleaner.

Establishing the Trailer -

On Made Shots:

If a shot is made or if there is a dead ball we have a predetermined role for all five players.