Transition: Making the Change

In basketball, transition is the change that occurs between offense and defense (in both directions).  Communication is a key in transition.  Transition occurs quickly and within the chaos of a game.  There are players to locate, spots to get to, and reads to be made.  Without communication, breakdowns are inevitable.  "Point and Talk" is a phrase used to teach players to communicate while in transition.  A player may point to identify where he is going or verbally communicate whom he is guarding (or help a teammate).  The physical act of pointing and talking is something that is observeable and therefore can be measured.



Game of Numbers

Transition and rebounding go hand- in-hand.  On offense, the number of people that attempt to rebound impacts the ability to defend the oppositions offensive transition (after their defensive rebound).  Many teams attempt to send "four to the boards" and send one back as a safety.  Offensive transition depends upon a few variables that are related to how the offensive posession ended. The original offensive possession could may with a made basket, missed basket, turnover or steal.  A primary break refers to a 3 on 2 or 2 on 1 situation. A primary break often leads to a shot attempt in less than 3 passes.   A secondary break often occurs after a made basket and usually requires more than 3 passes and switching sides of the floor (ball reversals).  A good secondary break can take advantage of the chaos involved in defensive transition even though the numbers don't indicate an immediated scoring opportunity. It applies pressure on the defensive team to correctly matchup and concentrate throughout the possession.  Most teams have a programmed secondary break adapted to the strengths of their team.


Battle of Transitions

Defensive transition is a key to team success.  Players must recognize the change, sprint to protect the basket, stop the ball, locate shooters, rotate when their is an offensive advantage, and take away any high percentage shots…….and rebound!  If the defense can stop the offensive momentum of a primary or secondary break and complete the possession of half court defense….. it has done a great job!  Unfortunately, there will be many more to come.  The "battle of transitions" between two teams is truly a game within the game.


The Little Things

The fundamentals of transition play can be isolated in practice and individual workouts.  Considering all of the parts of transition play can help in determining the skills to target.  I feel good passing is critical to successful offensive transition.  Many different types of passes are used (overhead, chest, bounce, lob, flick, skip, etc.).  These passes are often made while moving and are contested by defenders.  The timing, location, and type of pass must be made in response to many different variables.  Proper execution calls upon habits built through repetition and experience.