December 16, 2010 • Basketball

Basketball: Get running off opponent’s missed free throws

In keeping with my coaching theory for controlling tempo and placing constant pressure on opposing defense’s, I devised a defensive free-throw alignment that would accomplish this. Our teams have had a lot of success with this foul-line formation over the years. By design, it allows for a multitude of positive possibilities.

  • The basic alignment keeps the defense spread out, forcing them to adjust to a free-throw formation they’ve seldom seen.
  • Keeping your best ball handlers in a tandem formation makes it more difficult to defend.
  • Fast-breaking off either a made or missed free throw keeps the opponents from setting up any type of effective full-court pressure defense.

This scheme also can easily adjust to any moves your opponent may use. You can, for example, have your best two guards in the half-court position, switch assignments, bring them up diagonally or have them break deep for a long pass, depending on your opponent’s adjustments. It’s easy to install into your system, and your players enjoy the up-tempo style of play.

Middle fast break

DIAGRAM 1 shows your basic alignment. DIAGRAMS 2-3 show an example of a fast break off a missed free throw when 3 secures a long rebound — which is called the “middle fast break.”

Diagram 1
Diagram 2
Diagram 3

DIAGRAM 1: Basic Alignment.

DIAGRAM 2: Middle fast break (A). 2 screens for 1, who breaks toward the middle and receives a pass from 3.

DIAGRAM 3: Middle fast break (B). 1 drives the middle, while 2 and 3 fill the lanes. 5 is a trailer.

Sideline fast break

Diagram 4
Diagram 5

DIAGRAMS 4-5 show our sideline break when 4 secures the rebound. If 5 grabs the rebound, we flip-flop assignments.

DIAGRAM 4: Sideline break (A). 4 rebounds and passes to 3, who is sprinting to the sideline. 2 screens for 1, who breaks past half court to the sideline.

DIAGRAM 5: Sideline break (B). 3 passes to 1, then breaks to the middle of the floor. 1 passes to 2 on the sideline, while 5 fills the outside lane.

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