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Transition Flow 2021-22

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

We are hunting for scores in transition offense, but if we don't get that immediate shot we want to flow directly into our half-court offense.

With just two months left before the 2021-22 season kicks off I want to dig into what I'm thinking about with transition offense. One thing I have been sold on for years now is the concept of flowing freely from our transition offense into half-court offense. We want our players to be actively hunting for lay-ups in transition through pitch ahead passes and dribble attacks. If no shot emerges from those efforts we want our guys to be able to flow freely into our half-court create actions. Through a series of simple if/then reactions we are going to train our players to make that transition.

My experience as a high school coach has convinced me that the best way to maximize the skills of our players is to get them to react naturally to defensive efforts without worrying about the memorization of plays. In transition we want our players to instinctively hunt for scoring opportunities - and if none emerge be able to easily flow into our half-court create actions. In this post, we are going to discuss how to flow into those half-court actions from any transition moment. Before we dive into this topic make sure you are subscribed to the website and YouTube Channel to make sure you are alerted to all future posts!

Primary Break -

This might be common sense to most coaches but I want to make sure we don't lose sight of the main objection of transition - to score! So before we get lost in how to flow into half-court offense let's remind ourselves (and our players) that we are actively hunting scoring opportunities first. The primary way we are doing this is through pitch ahead passes. Two pitch-ahead passes that will not require us to flow into anything are ones to players Leaking Out and ones that hit our Rim Runner. In these scenarios we are looking to turn those pitch ahead passes into lay-ups.

Pitch Ahead for Scores -

Leak Outs:

Leak Out opportunities emerge when one of our players secures the defensive rebound and someone sprints out ahead of the pack to receive a pitch ahead pass.

The outlet player has a responsibility to pitch the basketball ahead for a score in those situations.

Rim Runner:

On occasions where our Center does not rebound the basketball, we are asking him to sprint ahead of the pack towards the rim. The Rim Runner, as we call him, should be looking to get the pitch ahead pass and score. In these scenarios we want our big man to be outrunning the opponent's big man in hopes of catching a pitch ahead pass and laying it in.

Pitch Ahead & Flow into Low -

In scenarios where the basketball is pitch ahead along the sideline, and there is no immediate shot or drive opportunity for the basketball we want to look into the Low Post. Whether or not the ball goes into the post we would like to be in perfect 4 Out, 1 In spacing with the opportunity to flow directly into our half-court offense. If we can achieve that spacing we would like to enter our Low Post phase, hopefully getting the ball to our 5 Man in the Paint.

Sideline Pitch Ahead -

Rim Runner:

If the Rim Runner does not get the basketball on his Rim Run then he is trying to get deep post position in the paint. If he gets the post-entry pass we want our post player to be thinking score immediately.

Ballside Wing:

If the ballside wing (2) gets the pitch ahead pass he is immediately assessing if he has a shot or driving opportunity. If he doesn't he should be looking into the Rim Runner for a post-up entry.


Where the passer (1) makes a sideline pitch ahead pass he will be asked to follow out Pass Down, Cut-Away rule. this will help to create space for the entry pass into the post.

Backside Players:

The players on the backside (3,4) need to fill up to the Point and Upper Wing positions. Filling these positions will also us to seamlessly flow into the next element of our half-court offense if the post-entry pass is not made.

Flow into Low -

Post Entry:

Once the passer clears through to the backside we enter our Low Post action. From this moment we would like to enter the ball into the post and let our 5 Man go to work.

Floor Balance:

The trailer (4) slides over to the point to balance the floor. If the ball goes into the post he is holding his position waiting for a kick-out opportunity.

The corner player (3) will rise out of the corner to the Upper Wing creating room for the cutting passer to fill the corner.

The Passer:

The man who makes the Post Entry pass (2) has two choices to make; a) basket cut or b) respace to the corner. Regardless of what choice he makes, it is his ultimate responsibility is to give the post player as much room as possible to make a play.

Dribble Entry Options -

In Dribble Entry scenarios we are imagining that the pitch ahead options are not available. On these occasions, we are actually looking towards the opposite slot player to enter into our half-court actions. In both the Slot to Slot and Wave Through options we are looking to flow into our Point Series actions. In both cases, we are maintaining that 4 Out, 1 In spacing and looking for our 5 Man to either attack the rim or make a play with his passing.

Dribble Entry -

Read Progression:

As the Point Guard brings the ball up the floor he is checking up the ballside wing and the rim runner for potential pitch ahead passes. If those are not available he quickly moves to the next phase of our transition progression.

We would like to stay aggressive and continue to attack the rim if possible. So, if the Point Guard sees an opportunity to Attack the Middle Third with the dribble we want him to take it.

If neither of those options is available we would like the basketball to be advanced into the frontcourt via the dribble. We would simply refer to this as a Dribble Entry. Once the ball has been safely entered into the half-court our focus shifts immediately towards flowing into Point Series. From this Dribble Entry scenario there are two main ways we would like to do this:

  • Slot to Slot Pass

  • Wave Through

Flow into Point Series -

Slot to Slot Pass:

Making the slot to slot pass is one way to flow into Point Series. Anytime that we make this pass we are asking the passer to immediately cut away to the opposite corner.

This Brush Cut now provides out 5 Man with a window to flash into. Once we have made the entry pass to the 5 Man at the High Point we are now in Point Series.

Wave Through:

Another option we can use if the slot to slot pass is taken away is the Wave Through. In this scenario, the player with the basketball waves the opposite slot player through to the corner and then makes the entry pass in Point Series himself. This is a good option if the opposite slot player is being denied, or if the entry pass is being disrupted. Often times the wave through can provide enough confusion to allow a clean entry pass.

Flow into Handoff -

A third way that we flow into Point Series from the Dribble Entry is with the Slot to Wing DHO. In this option, we would simply conduct the handoff on the ball side while the players on the backside exchange positions.

Entry into Point Series:

Once the handoff is conducted we are hunting the options we mentioned above. We can make the Slot to Slot Pass or simply Wave the player in the opposite slot through. From there we would look to make the pass into the high post and flow into Point Series.

Why use the Handoff?

Players can use the dribble handoff option just as a way to add a bit of variety to our movement. But there are a few strategic reasons that we might use the handoff as well:

  • The on-ball defender (X1) is being disruptive

  • If we want the wing players to be involved in the Point Action

  • If the defense is anticipating the Point Entry pass

5 Man as Trailer -

Throughout the course of the game, there will be scenarios where the 5 Man is trailing the play in transition. Rather than crowding the paint with a late rim run we want to give the 5 Man a more natural path to the post. When these scenarios occur we want to give the 5 Man the option to set a drag screen and then roll to the rim. There are some other really intriguing options out that, but I think this approach is the most simplistic and leads us into the 4 Out, 1 In alignment that we prefer.

Flow into Drag Screen -

When the 5 Man is trailing the play the general running lanes for the other four players should remain the same.

  • 2/3 Run the Sidelines

  • 1/4 Fill the Slots

The Transition Read Progression that we have laid out in the post would stay intact as well. We are still hunting Pitch Ahead Passes and Middle Third dribble attacks when available.

The Drag Screen:

Assuming there is no pitch ahead pass and no middle third dribble attack - then the trailing 5 Man should look to set the Drag Screen on the basketball.

His screening angle should be on the back hip of the defender with the goal of forcing the defender to go over the top of the drag screen. Regardless of whether the 5 Man gets the ball on his initial roll to the rim, he should continue to dig for deep post. position. If no entry pass comes from the drag screen then we would simply flow into our Low Post & Point Series actions.

Final Thoughts -

One of our offensive goals is to be able to flow seamlessly from transition into our half-court offense. On those possessions where scoring pitch ahead passes can not be made we need to have a general plan on how to flow into our main create actions. Ideally, I would prefer to make these concepts as simple as possible. I want our players to be reacting instinctively and not become paralyzed by memorization. So developing some simple if/then statements that guide our transition flow makes a lot of sense to me.

  • If Pitch Ahead / Then Flow into Low Post

  • If Dribble Entry / Then Flow into Point Series

  • IF 5 Man Trails / Drag Screen

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