top of page


Considering the X's and O's of a Complete Basketball Program

The game of basketball can and should be broken down into offensive and defensive progressions. Below these progressions are described in a timeline consistent with game play during an offensive or defensive possession. As the offensive possession is broken down into parts on a progressive timeline, so too are team defensive principles. The utilisation of said progressive timeline is also an effective progressing the teaching of systems and principles. These progressions are generally explained below.


The Progression of an Offensive Possession

Primary Break

The primary break is triggered by a transition or change from defense to offense due to either a turnover or a scored basket. A primary break generally last approximately the first 5-6 seconds of the offensive possession. When observing a game of basketball at any level it becomes clear that the majority of the game is played in a state of transition from offense to defense or vice versa. Furthermore, in breaking down points scored in a game it also becomes evident that the majority of scoring opportunities take place within the primary or secondary break. For this reason implementation of any offensive systems must begin with roles and options within the primary part of the offense.

Secondary Break

In the event that an advantage within the primary break has not led to a scored basket the team will space the floor evenly and settle into the secondary break. This could simply be a plan on how to flow directly into the half-court offence. In this part of the transition offence many teams will utilise a basic half court, quick hitter style action in an attempt to take advantage of an opponent that is still in the process transitioning into their half court defence. The secondary break generally takes approximately 5-6 seconds.

Half-Court Offense

In the event that neither the primary nor secondary breaks lead to scoring opportunities the ball will be pitched to the perimeter and players will initiate a half court offense. In most cases teams run a form of continuity offense, This means a system of repeated patterns and options that can be run over and over in an attempt to produce a scoring option. 

Press Break

When facing defensive pressure in the full court, a team must be able to recognize and take advantage of the type of press being applied. Whether facing a zone or man press, the system or systems implemented must ensure team spacing and timing not only to maintain possession, but to take full advantage and thrive against the extended defense.

Offensive Special Situations

Within a game clock and game situations may require a specialized offensive approach. Whether it be a quick hitter, a sideline/baseline inbound situation or a free throw scenario, teams should be prepared for multiple game contexts. It is imperative for every team to consider all possible game contexts as well as defences that could be to determine appropriate sets.

Please click below For a practical application of the Values Based Basketball Philosophy to the selection of OFFENSIVE TEAM SYSTEMS 


The Progression of a Defensive Possession

Transition Defence

The transition from offensive systems to defensive systems takes place whenever the opponent gains possession through a violation, a defensive rebound, or a turnover during game play. When this "transition" occurs it becomes necessary to immediately apply defensive team principles in response to the opponent’s primary offensive break.

Full-Court Pressure Defence

Whenever possible it is in a team's best interest to practice and play pressure defence. Landers (2005) states that pressing is necessary in preparing players. Firstly it is preparation for when you will need to press late in games. How can players be asked to press if they do not practice pressing? Secondly, it provides opportunity to prepare on how to handle the press. For these reasons pressing systems are implemented from the beginning of the year once again beginning with man, and loading additional zone principles if and when players are ready.

Half-Court Defence

Once the primary break has been successfully stopped and all defensive players have made their way back down the floor to protect their basket, a team will settle into their half court defence. This is achieved by individual players finding their mark (Man to Man) or their assigned defensive area (Zone).

Defensive Special Situations

There are important moments within a game that decide momentum and eventually the winning team. In considering the defensive approaches to such situations there are a few factors which every coach and player must be aware of. The score, time remaining, and team fouls are all factors that determine the defensive strategy of a team late in a game.

Please click below For a practical application of the Values Based Basketball Philosophy to the selection of DEFENSIVE TEAM SYSTEMS 

bottom of page