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Transition Building Blocks

What are the essential building blocks of your transition offense - and how do you go about installing them?

In this week's #GBetBBChat Coach DeMarco chose the topic of transition offense and posed the question, "What are the essential building blocks of your transition offense". I responded and after looking back at my response I wanted to create a blog post to refine it a bit. To me, really nailing down these four concepts would be the basis of my building blocks:

  1. Defining Running Lanes

  2. Creating a Clear Outlet Strategy

  3. Establishing Read Progression

  4. Flowing into Half Court Spacing

In those precious first few weeks of practice these would be the concepts that I would be trying to nail down. If we can create good habits early in the season with our Spacing, Running Lanes, and Outlet Speed then we're in good shape. Aside from the strategic teaching points I think the biggest influence will be your persistence in demanding the details of your system.

I - Define Running Lanes -

The first concept I would approach would be the running lanes for our players in transition. I really think that teaching our guys how we want to run the floor in transition will help us connect our Half Court Offense to our Transition Game.

What we have drilled the past four years is a four out Rim Runner transition system.

In this system:

1 - PG - Outlets & Pushes

5 - C - Is the Rim Runner

4 - PF - Is the Trailer

2 - SG - Fills a Corner

3 - SF - Fills a Corner

We try to place a heavy emphasis on the "First Three Steps" once we have the basketball. In those first three steps we would like our guys to be in an all out sprint to their Running Lane (Rim, Corner, Ball, or Trail)

II - Have a Clear Outlet Strategy -

I think one of the most underrated aspects of a transition system is to have a clearly defined Outlet System. This can be an element that if mastered can add speed to our system and create a number of transition opportunities that might normally be overlooked.

Three Outlet Concepts:

  1. Make - 4 Always inbounds, 1 Always Get Outlet (Consistent, Always)

  2. Miss Option - Outlet Pass - Make a Quick Outlet Pass to a Guard

  3. Miss Option - BYOO - Make a "Bust Out Dribble" and attack up the floor

One teaching point that I like to teach on a missed shot is based on your positioning when you come into contact with the ball. You can simply teach it to players with simple If/then statements:

  • IF you rebound with your back to half court = Outlet Pass

  • IF you rebound / steal facing half court = Be Your Own Outlet

III - Establish a Read Progression -

The next building block to your transition offense should be establishing a clear read progression for the ball handler. We are certainly aiming for simplicity in our Transition System - so we must find a balance between simplicity and a clear progression of reads.

The simple Read Progression that we have settled on the last four seasons has been a three part read. We would encourage the basketball to read like a quarterback:

  1. Pitch Ahead

  2. Attack the Middle

  3. Hit the Trailer

For the player with the basketball this is something that needs to be processed quickly. I view it as a clear "first read, second read, last resort" type of approach.

This is a subject I have actually written a series of Blog Posts about in the past. Check out the links below:

Practice Concepts - 2.0 Trips

This is a drill that we will often do in practice where we are executing these three concepts - then ending with a 5/5 possession in the Half Court.

IV - Flow into Half Court Spacing -

I think the last building block of your transition offense is solving how you will move from transition offense into half court offense. Personally, I prefer to flow conceptually into half court offense rather than engage in the awkward "Run the Offense" moments. So what we want to do is have our players end their transition run where their half court position would begin.

In these kinds of "Flow Moments" the basketball theoretically had no pitch ahead pass, no lane to attack and no trailer to hit. Over the years one concept that I have taught has been the Slot to Wing DHO. If the basketball had none of the above options he would simply conduct the Slot to Wing DHO and then trigger us into Half Court Offense.

I talked about this in a previous Blog Post:

Concluding Thoughts

Transition Offense is something that I want to keep simple. At its most effective point it is something that we use to get easy baskets. However. if we establish good spacing habits our transition offense is something that we can use to exploit defenses in those critical first 15 seconds of a possession. Making your Read Progressions, Running Lane Concepts, & Flow into Half Court Spacing a centerpiece of your practice plans will most certainly pay dividends down the road.

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