Playing Through the Trailer

Updated: Sep 28, 2019

Playing through the trailer serves the dual purpose of A) taking advantage of a collapsed defense and B) flowing from transition to half court offense.

The ultimate goal of a transition opportunity is to create a high efficiency shot before the defense can get set. If we are not able to get a lay up in our initial transition push we are trying to Play Through the Trailer as a way to take advantage of an aggressive push that did not result in a basket. Good pitch ahead passes and aggressive dribble attacks to the middle third will draw a crowd of help defenders. Versus a collapsed defense trailers are often presented with catch and shoot opportunities and chances to attack closeout defenders.

Playing Through the Trailer is also a way for our offense to flow from transition to the half court. If no scoring opportunities present themselves for the trailer he simply completes the first action that triggers your half court movement. When our initial transition push fails to create a shot , it is important to arrive with good floor spacing in order to flow into those half court actions.

Priority 1: Hunt the Pitch Ahead Pass, Priority 2: Attack the Middle Third with the Dribble, and when that is stopped Priority 3: Play Through the Trailer.

Previous Transition Blog Post: "Pitching Ahead"

Previous Transition Blog Post: "Attack the Middle Third"

Who are your Trailers?

One of the elements that I think can be helpful to transition design is to establish defined roles for players. If players know exactly what they are responsible for in transition we can increase the speed in which we operate. Determining who inbounds on makes, who rim runs (if anyone), who sprints the sidelines, who gets the outlet pass, and who trails the play are all aspects we could choose to define for our players. This could be done in a myriad of ways, none of which is any better than the other, but defining your roles and expectations from each role could improve your transition efficiency regardless of strategy.

Establishing Your Trailers: On Makes and Misses we are going to establish clear roles and responsibilities for players. We are going to designate our 4/5 men as our two trailers. On every single possession it is their job to rim run and trail the play.

On Made Shots - 4 Will Always Inbound, and 5 will Rim Run

On Missed Shots - The first man "down the floor" Rim Runs, and the second man Trails.

The Trailer as a Scorer/Playmaker

There are a number of scoring opportunities that present themselves to trailers in transition. Assuming that the defense has been collapsed as a results of our initial transition push the trailer will be presented with chances to get Catch and Shoot threes, Drive and Attack a Closeout, become a Passer, or in the right scenario set a Drag Screen for the ball. The design of your trailing players and their skill set probably determines which of these options occur most often.

Scoring Option #1: Trailer as a Shooter

Scoring Option #2: Trailer as a Driver

Scoring Option #3: Trailer as a Passer

Scoring Option #4: Trailer as a Screener

Using the Trailer to Flow into Half Court Offense

If the trailer does not have a shot or driving opportunity he should look to flow directly into half court offense. We do not need to make a play call or have the "set it up" moment, that pass to the trailer is our uncalled signal that we are now into our half court offense.

Nearly every offensive system could find a way to use their trailing player as a means to flow into their half court offense. If your running lanes and spacing remain intact following transition any offense can flow within a single pass/movement.

Flow Example #1: Flow into Motion Offense

Flow Example #2: Flow into DDM

Concluding Thoughts

The importance of Playing Through the Trailer in transition can not be understated. Not only the trailer represent an opportunity to score once the basketball has been neutralized, but it is also a way in which we can easily flow into our half court offense.

Further Resources on this Topic:

@HalfCourtHoops Details how the Pre-Kevin Durant Warriors use the Trailer to Flow:

Transition Flow into Motion Offense by @RadiusAthletics:

As always take a read through #TransitionOffenseTips on Twitter for endless pointers and ideas.

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Michael Lynch

Boys Basketball Coach

Leicester High School

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Twitter - @LeicBasketball

Cover Photo Credit: Derek E. Hingle (USA Today Sports)


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