K.I.S.S. Series – Transition Offense

K.I.S.S. Series – Transition Offense

This is the first part of our Better Coaches, K.I.S.S. Series. My high school basketball coach used to use the term, K.I.S.S., after a poor decision led to a turnover. This was usually after we passed up the opportunity to make an easy play, to try to make a much tougher play. K.I.S.S. stands for, Keep It Simple, Stupid!

“K.I.S.S. stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid!”

As coaches, we make this same mistake when building our offensive system. The goal is to create a system, which puts players into a position to play to their strengths, and allows them to play without over-thinking. Too many players are getting paralysis by analysis, as their coach has them thinking so much that they struggle to play aggressively, with confidence. Our K.I.S.S. Series will feature some simple options, to help you build your offensive system. Just remember; “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”




Point Guard: Job is to get “butt to the sideline,” above the free throw line extended. Needs to communicate LOUD and EARLY, “Outlet, outlet, outlet!” This allows the inbounder to recognize what side we want to inbound the ball. The point guard has a maximum of two dribbles to throw the ball down the sideline. If the ball is not advanced, then our point guard will “SLICE,” which means to cross the middle of the court with the dribble, and change the angle for the transition defense.

Wings: These two players will have a designated corner that they are racing towards. They must immediately sprint towards where their sideline connects to the half court line, and continue to their designated corner. One wing has the left side, while the other has the right side. As soon as the shot goes in, or the rebound is secured, our wings explode for their FIRST THREE STEPS, and look over their inside shoulder for the ball. Wings should NEVER wait for the ball.

Trailer: This player is the designated inbounder on made shots. When inbounding, the trailer must catch the ball out of the net. We expect our trailer to get out of bounds, and outside of the lane line in THREE STEPS. The trailer is the eyes for the point guard on the inbounds pass, as the point guard is looking back to the ball. Once inbounded, the trailer stays behind the point guard, and on the opposite side of the floor.

Rim Runner: The Rim Runner must “win the race” to the front of the rim. This helps to flatten or shallow out the defense, which allows for easier opportunities to attack. Ball reversals become easier, and your offensive possession can begin with the ball getting side-to-side. This is the unsung role, of the rim runner. The personal benefit is that as soon as the transition defense relaxes, our rim runner is rewarded with an easy lay-up.





1) Ball Side “FLY”

2) Rim Runner

3) SLICE – Look Weak Side “FLY”

4) Can I attack down hill?

5) Transition Actions (Explained Later) or Trailer

FLY = Any time that the Point Guard throws the ball ahead to a wing. We NEVER throw a “Fly,” once we have crossed half court, as there will be no advantage. If it happens, and there is an advantage, then chances are that our Point Guard did not recognize it early enough. This is a chance to reemphasize our reads.

RIM RUNNER = Throw the ball ahead to our Rim Runner, who is sprinting in the middle of the floor.

SLICE = After two dribbles, switch sides of the floor, and look for the “Fly” or to attack down hill

TRAILER = If nothing is open, look to swing the ball through the trailer


Now that we have developed our positions, and how we are going to advance the ball in Transition, we need to develop some simple actions in Transition. Here are three simple actions, which can be called by the Point Guard.

HAND = Point Guard attacks the elbow, then angles for a dribble hand off to the opposite wing. The wing looks to turn the corner, while the floor is spaced well by the other players. If a defender helps, the wing will have an easy read, to make the appropriate pass to create another opportunity to attack.

HEAD TAP = If the Point Guard can not throw the “Fly” to either wing, then “HEAD TAP” is simply calling for a Drag Ball Screen. This is a ball screen, that is set by the trailer. If your trailer can shoot it, then I encourage a pick and pop. If not, then your 5 must space the short corner, to allow the appropriate spacing. Below is a diagram, with the trailer setting a pick and pop ball drag ball screen.

TRAILER = When the Point Guard swings the ball to the trailer, the Trailer has three options;

  1. SHOOT IT if the defense has flattened or shallowed out to the baseline
  2. DRIVE IT if the defense aggressively closes out
  3. SWING IT to the wing if there is no advantage on the catch

If the ball swings to the wing, then the Rim Runner is given an opportunity for a post catch. We keep our post player opposite the ball, as we value the spacing that it creates for dribble drives. If the ball swings through the trailer, then the rim runner should be able to duck-in, and get a terrific seal. If no post entry pass occurs, then your team can flow seamlessly into your offense.

Below are some clips of our basketball team, running the HAND and HEAD TAP action this past season:



The last part of developing your Transition Offense is making sure that it flows into your offense. The goal should be that your transition offense ends, in a position where your offense can begin. If you end these actions, and then have to “set it up,” you are giving the defense a chance to get set. Playing against a set defense is significantly more difficult, then scoring in the flow of the game. While there are countless half court offenses, it should not be difficult to flow from these three simple transition actions, into the offense of your choice. When developing what this looks like, just remember to “give it a KISS,” and Keep It Simple, Stupid!”


If you have any questions, or want to discuss other simple ideas within Transition Offense, please do not hesitate to reach out to Coach Doug Brotherton or our HoopGrind Basketball staff at;


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