Basketball Transition Offense
How to Go On the Offense Immediately

Basketball transition offense refers to the switch from defense to offense after your opponent loses possession of the ball. Making this transition quickly and decisively allows you to take immediate control of your offensive possession.

Good offensive play begins with an assured, confident transition from defense. Teams that walk the ball up court to set up an offense have given up a great opportunity to score. If you want your team to be a true scoring threat, consistently, and against any other team, then you must develop a quick, aggressive transition offense.

Basketball teams that run fast breaks absolutely need a quick transition, and any team wishing to avoid turning the ball over against a press will definitely want to have that ability to get running before the press can set up.

For an overview of what's entailed in a good basketball transition offense, I've outlined it below. For some great practice drills that help develop this crucial aspect of your game, take a look at Competitive Drills for Teaching Transition Offense - a great DVD with some really effective drills.

The switch from defense to offense will happen whenever your opponent turns the ball over to you - for example, they make a shot, they make a turnover, you get a rebound. For our example here we'll use the most common transition - off a defensive rebound.

Basketball Transition Offense
The Rebound

  • When the opponent takes the shot, your inside players (#3,4,5) immediately crash the boards hard, aggressively going for the rebound.
  • Your two guards immediately flash to the outlet positions - near the sideline, across from the top of the key

Basketball Transition OffenseMovement off Rebound

Basketball Transition Offense
The Outlet

  • The forward that gets the rebound immediately pivots, keeping the ball high and protected, to find the outlet closest to him.
  • The outlet on the ball side must stay in position - it is a common mistake for outlet players to start to fade downcourt, excited about getting the play started, but this opens up opportunities for the other team to steal the outlet pass
  • The offside outlet flashes to the top of the key, first as a secondary outlet pass in case the ball side outlet is covered, and second, as a means to getting the ball to the center from the outlet
Basketball Transition OffenseOutlet Quickly

Basketball Transition Offense
Moving the Ball Up Court

We want the ball in the middle, which usually happens in one of two ways:

  • The ball is outletted to the side, and the outlet player looks to pass to the other guard cutting to the middle
  • The outlet at the side is covered and so the ball is instead outletted to the other guard who has flashed to the middle
Basketball Transition OffenseMove the Ball Up Quickly to Attack

Regardless of how it gets there, the ball ends up in the middle, and the other guard and one other player - usually the small forward - fill the lanes on either side of the ball carrier and bring the ball upcourt as quickly as they can. The two remaining players trail the play.

From here the fast break can be run, or at the very least, the team can get set up on offense quickly, before the defense can get set up (especially important if the defense has plans to set up a press)

Practice this with your team over and over until it becomes second nature. The smoother they are able to execute a quick basketball transition offense, the quicker they will be able to pick apart the opponent's defense.

And keep in mind, this should happen every time the ball is inbounded or outletted, not just when you are worried about a press - practice to make it automatic, and you won't need to panic when a press is thrown at you.

"If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?"

- Vince Lombardi

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