I've been talking to new coaches recently and one of the questions I keep hearing is what is a 'secondary break', how is it different from a primary break, and should I install one or just go right into our half-court offense?? There was a good discussion on this topic a couple of weeks ago on the X's and O's Forum which I will try to summarize below. But some definitions first. In transition offense, there are three categories of offense:

1. The primary break (also referred to colloquially as the fast-break) is generally referred to as a 2-on-1 or 1-on-0 generated after a steal, turnover, or rebound.

2. The secondary break is similar to the primary break except that generally there are 2 defenders, so a 3-on-2, 4-on-2, or 5-on-2 situation. It can be run off a live change of possession but also from a dead ball inbounds.

3. Early offense generally refers to transition offense off of made baskets or dead ball, from any sideline or baseline inbound. Generally, all 5 defenders are assumed to be already in their half court.

I think the benefits of the primary break and early offense are obvious, regardless of whether you teach a sideline or middle break. The secondary break is a little trickier, especially since most teams will blend their secondary break and early offense into 1 package, so as not to confuse players, by making them over-think the game.

The main reason why you wouldn't want to run a secondary break is that against good transition defense teams, the secondary break would be limited in its effectiveness. Especially, if your half-court offense is a deliberate motion-based offense that uses the whole shot clock. Not only would the secondary break be redundant, it would prevent your team from getting into the half-court offense efficiently. However, on the other hand, if the opposite team is very good defensively, thinking numerically, you should be better 5v2, 4v2, or even 3v2 than 5v5.

In the end, it ultimately just comes down to personal philosophy. If you really believe that your team is better offensively by scoring early -- before the offense gets set -- then work with that. But, if you really believe that your team is better offensively by working the ball side-to-side, using up shot clock, and making the defense defend you for the whole shot clock, then work with that.

Should you decide to go with the secondary break though, there are some factors to keep in mind in choosing the one to go with. Depending on your half-court offense, you should pick plays that flow well into your half-court offense. For example, if your half-court offense is 3-out 2-in, running any kind of early post-up makes much more sense than a high spread PNR as your secondary break.

If you want some more ideas on secondary break offense, take a look at Tony Barone's DVD on Set Plays for High Scoring Transition Game. Coach Barone was formerly the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.