I am a believer that Transition Defense Principles are the most critical thing in a basketball game. If you lose the transition game, then nine times out of 10 you will lose the game period. I teach my student-athletes that half-court defense most of the time starts full court, as soon as we make or miss a basket. If you want your team to be a great defensive team, then drilling them in practice every day about transition defense should be at the top of your list. You want to be able to force your opponent into having to play a half court brand of basketball. My team presses most of the game with a diamond press, used mainly to cause turnovers and to get them out of a rhythm, but if they break the press, we settle down into our half-court defense and make them work. Making the offense work for their points is the reason why your transition defense has to be a focal point, cannot give up many fast break points and think your team will have a chance to win. If you look at a box score, there are three things I always look at, that is rebounding, turnovers, and fast break (transition) baskets. Your focal point may be a bit different, but you should now include the differential in your transition game because that part of the game could be the difference between your team winning or losing a game.
Here is a drill that I like to use; we call it the 3v3 conversion drill. This drill is not much different from any other 3v3 drill or the 11-man drill, but I use this a lot in practices with my kids. The drill starts will a player rebounding or inbounding the ball; the group that simulated the first shot will, in turn, be the defense and have to stop the ball that is coming at them. It is essential that in this drill you focus on the skills that fit your team and how you want them to execute them according to your transition defense principles.
My transition defense principles for my team when it comes to transition defense are; I always have three players crashing the glass, I call these my full attackers. I have 2 getting back, if there is a guard shooting the opposite guard is the first back to protect the basket and the guard that shot it will be the second guard back, I call those people my half backers, which by the time the rebound is retrieved those guys have half court and the bucket protected. Any transition work should make its way into your daily coaching schedule for your teams. If your team can become a good transition team first starting with the defensive end, then you are well on your way to becoming an excellent opposing team, and those results will lead you to have the year that you believe that you can have.
Head Boys Basketball Coach
Mingo Valley Christian (Oklahoma)