Submitted by Coach John Kimble
Retired high school and college coach
Follow him on Twitter @CoachJohnKimble
This article was originally written for Winning Hoops
An excellent way to gain an advantage over an opponent is to gain an advantage of having (and cashing in on) more opportunities for easy (uncontested and/or close) shots.
To gain an advantage over another team that could possibly be: 1) more athletic and talented, 2) quicker, 3) faster, 4) taller, 5) stronger, 6) has a deeper bench, or 7) a combination of any or all of the above; a team must maximize its number of easy shots while minimizing its opponents of the number of the same kind of shots.
While half court offenses and defenses greatly affect the frequency of a team’s easy shots, and full court press defenses and offenses contribute to the number of shots also; a large portion of those shots can and will be determined by the facet of the part of the game that takes place between the actual time that a team is on defense and when that same is on offense. That gap between the offense and the defense is the transition between those two parts. The purpose of this transition time between your defense and your offense is to create as many “easy shots” as possible, while the purpose of our transition time between your offense and your defense is to minimize the number of easy shots that your opponents can get.
We define “easy shots” for a team as shots that are uncontested to some degree, a shot that is relatively close to the basket, and that when the shot is taken, the shooting team has a varying numerical and/or position advantage of their personnel over the opposing teams’ individual personnel.
We define “offensive transition” as converting originally from defense to our offensive game. This type of transition leads US to our easy shots by our offense. Refer back to our definition of “easy shots” in the Introduction. This transition from defense to offense could actually initiate from various situations, such as: 1) capitalizing on a ‘live’ turnover by the opponents such as our interception of a bad pass, a recovery of an opponents’ fumble, a deflection or a loose ball on the floor, or their blocked shot, 2) causing and/or capitalizing a turnover violation with us having to take the ball out of bounds to initiate our ‘offensive transition’, or 3) our securing of a defensive rebound after an opponents’ missed shot, (obviously our defense helps determine how many missed shots our opponents have in a game) and 4) last, but not least (but sometimes forgotten), our immediate reaction and securing possession of the ball after our opponents have scored via field goals or free throws.
We believe in an immediate and quick-reacting four-pronged attack. The first phase is actually our that is attempting to create a change of the basketball. The second phase is what we called the Primary Fastbreak. If the opposing team successfully defends the Primary Break, we smoothly and instantly flow into our third phase — the Secondary Break. If the opposing defense is fortunate enough to prevent our scoring from the third phase, our half-court continuity offense fluidly transcends from the Secondary Break. If run properly, our Primary Break into our Secondary Break into our Continuity Half-Court Offense seems to be an old inclusive organized system of continual motion (but orchestrated with specific goals and objectives).
Still, regardless of how good your team’s defenses are and how fundamentally and structurally sound your Primary and Secondary Breaks are, and how solid your half court offensive continuities are, there is a distinct ‘gap’ between your defense and your offense. The smaller the ‘gap time’ is, the more successful your team will be in its “Offensive Transition Game.” The quicker that all five defenders respond and react to the change of possession, and become a “5 part offensive machine,” the more successful your “Offensive Transition Game” is. What a tremendous way for any team to gain an advantage over its opponent.
Conversely to “Offensive Transition,” we define “Defensive Transition” as converting from our offensive game to our defense. The main objective of our Defensive Transition is to minimize the amount of time that our defensive system is susceptible to failure, because of a lack of the number of personnel and their proper positioning. Just as we want to maximize the numbers of easy shots that our Offensive Transition can produce, we want our Defensive Transition to minimize the number of ‘easy shots’ that our opponents can get.
To put it simply, the more (easy shots) we get, and the less (easy shots) that opponents get, the greater the chance we have to win.
OFFENSIVE TRANSITION DRILLS
By continually using Offensive Transition to initiate all or the majority of your offensive team work in practice, you create the good habit of quickly converting from defense to offense.
One good routine to incorporate in full court scrimmages is to do the following. Often times, do not stop portions of your scrimmages to instruct or correct. This takes away from the number of transition opportunities that present itself.
In a full court scrimmage, if there is a dead ball situation (after a rules violation) allow both teams to take the ball out of bounds as quickly as possible without having pseudo-officials administering the ball (and therefore slow down the ‘gap’ time. Have players use scrimmages to get into the habit of greatly stepping up the pace of both offensive as well as defensive transition.
Make sure this is worked on in more than just full court scrimmages. If you want to concentrate on working mainly on half court offense, start the work on the opposite end of the court in a semi-controlled defensive scenario, where the ‘2nd team’ starts on offense and voluntarily (on the coach’s command) surrenders possession of the ball by shooting, throwing the ball away (both inbounds or out-of-bounds). If you want to concentrate your work on the 4th and final phase–half court continuity offense, instruct your groups to run the Primary and Secondary Breaks, looking for the good shot opportunities. But have them only see them, recognize them, and pass them up; so that the team can concentrate on the selected phase to improve on–half court offense continuity.
Obviously, if the coaching staff decides to work on the Primary or the Secondary Break, that wish is simply passed on to the squads; and the main squad still starts out in the 1st phase–Defense.
Keep in mind that the first phase should be practiced in many variations. Examples of these variations that should be practiced, developed, and improved upon are: 1) Every full court defense you plan on using, 2) Every half court defense that will be utilized, 3) Different Defensive Baseline Out-of-Bounds Situations, 4) Different Defensive Sideline Out-of-Bounds Situations, 5) Opponents’ FT Shooting Situations, and 6) after your opponents have scored a FG or FT.
DEFENSIVE TRANSITION DRILLS
The philosophies and concepts behind the Defensive Transition Drills are identical to the Offensive Transition Drills, but in an converse manner.
With that statement in mind, we have gone a step further to become somewhat unique in our way of thinking.
Most everyone has a Primary Fastbreak with particular concepts and ideas about running designated fastbreak lanes, located on the court. Since everyone (including all opponents) share that traditional and standard offensive philosophy, we have developed similar concepts and theories on defensive to attempt to counter opponents offensive fastbreaks. We call this scheme our Defensive Fastbreak. This idea is to simply have our perimeter defenders “get out and run the wide lanes” with the opponents’ offensive perimeter personnel. We expect our post defenders to sprint back to defend our interior after they have realized we have surrendered possession of the ball. Running the lanes congests them and also challenges all advancements of the ball down the court, either by means of outlet passes or dribbling. Slowing down our opponents progress while hustling back to defend our goal AND close proximity to the goal helps reduce opponents’ “easy shots;” which is our ultimate goal.
About the Author
Coach Kimble was the Head Basketball Coaching position at Deland-Weldon (IL) High School for five years (91-43) that included 2 Regional Championships, 2 Regional Runner-Ups and 1 Sectional Tournament Runner-up. He then moved to Dunlap (IL) High School (90-45) with 2 Regional Runners-up, 1 Regional, 1 Sectional and 1 Super-Sectional Championship and a final 2nd Place Finish in the Illinois Class A State Tournament. He was an Assistant Basketball Coach at Central Florida Community College in Ocala, FL for 1 year before becoming Offensive Coordinator and then Associate Head Coach for 3 additional years He then was the Head Basketball Coach at Crestview (FL) High School for 10 years, averaging over 16 wins per season.
He has had articles published in the following publications such as: The Basketball Bulletin of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Scholastic Coach and Athletic Journal, Winning Hoops, Basketball Sense, and American Basketball Quarterly. He has also written and has had five books published along with over 25 different DVDs by Coaches Choice and Fever River Sports Production.