Weekly X’s & O’s – Practice Drill | Better than 11 Man Break

In this edition of our weekly X’s and O’s, we’re going to look at one of our favourite practice games – the 12 Man Rotation.

This is a drill that we do twice a week in practice to really develop some of the habits we believe are necessary to be successful in the game.

12 Man Rotation is a modification of the more popular 11 Man Break, which used to be one of my favourite practice drills.

The 11 Man Break Drill is a 3vs2 continuously intense drill that works on spacing, transition defense concepts, decision making and transition offense concepts among other things.

Its basic set-up is 3 offensive players on the halfway line, 2 defenders on either basket and all other players line up on the side-line in an outlet pass position.


The initial action sees the 3 offensive players attack the 2 defenders trying to draw them to the ball and then pass to the open player for a high percentage shot.

The defenders are working on guarding the numbers disadvantage that they have and influencing the offensive players to take a lower percentage shot.

Once the shot goes up, all five players crash the boards and try to secure the rebound.


Whoever secures the rebound outlets the ball to the sideline and then becomes the third offensive player in attacking the opposite side of the court.

In this example, #4 grabbed the rebound, made an outlet pass to #7 and #6 sprinted the opposite sideline as it became another 3vs2.

Transition Defense principles apply here and #10 has to engage the ball, #11 takes the first pass and we repeat the sequence as before.

This is a very simplified explanation of the 11 Man Break. However, some of the benefits that I’ve experienced using this drill are as follows:

  • Continuous 3vs2 action with lots of decision making involved
  • Get a chance to work on spacing and transition offense concepts
  • working on transition defense concepts
  • working on making the outlet pass under pressure (as four others are fighting for the ball)
  • works on rebounding under pressure as every shot results in five guys pursuing the basketball
  • gets very competitive when you add individual scoring
  • Everyone is moving and there’s not too much standing around during the drill.

The Limitations that I didn’t like in this drill are as follows:

  • Players couldn’t focus on boxing out cos that’s not what is rewarded
  • Shot selection doesn’t really come into play here, even when emphasized. Again, player figured out what actually gets rewarded and adjust accordingly.
  • The transition defense concepts were never what it looked like in the game – two players were always back and in position; the tandem defense never yielded anything consistently for the defense
  • Offensive player rebounding the ball went the opposite way instead of going back up into the same basket following an offensive rebound
  • Players could cheat the drill. E.g. give up a pass so some one else can shoot it. That puts them in a better rebounding position
  • Finally, it didn’t reflect the changes in philosophy that we went through in terms of transition basketball.

12 Man Rotation

In our attempts to take the best parts of the 11 Man Break and fix some of the limitations, we added a 12th player and divided the guys into teams of four.

The continuation element and the intensity was good, so we kept those elements. The changes we made were as follows:

  • X1 and X2 had to go on offense with whoever they made an outlet pass to. Therefore, if the outlet pass went to X4, then the three players on offense were X1, X2 and X4. This meant that X1 and X2 had to navigate how to get into their respective transition lanes instead of just starting in those positions by default.
  • The addition of teams made it easier for the defense to focus on boxing out. There was still a disadvantage and they had to be smart with how they did it, but there was huge improvement in our boxing out when we added the teams.
  • Additional Scoring Systems allowed us to emphasise what we wanted. OREBs were worth 1 point and kick out threes after a rebound were worth 4 points. This meant that from an offensive side, when two players crashed the boards, one player spaced to get the kick out three.
  • We also added a shot clock, so the intensity increased as players hunted for high percentage shots. Any offensive rebound reset the clock to between 5 – 7 seconds, so that we could maintain the high sense of urgency in our playing.
  • Another change we made was that on an OREB, the player who was supposed to be on the outlet could now come in and play defense, making it a 3vs3 or a 4vs4 situation. This improved our shot selection (within a limited shot clock) because a missed shot either resulted in the opposition getting the ball or getting an additional player.
  • Overall, the drill increased our intensity, allowed us to practice our concepts better and had more transfer on game day. That being said, it still didn’t address all our limitations. Additional adjustments changed the number of players in the drill which allowed us to work on the transition offense concepts, as well as advantages. Using the same set up, we went from 3vs2 to 4vs2 to 4vs3. We even went to 5vs3 and 5vs4 situations to allow our players to see how we wanted to attack different advantages.
  • Despite massive improvements in what we were looking for, we still haven’t managed to get in our transition Defense concepts consistently in the 12 Man Rotation. For that, we use HTB – but we’ll discuss that in a later post.

That’s all for this week. I hope you guys enjoy seeing what we do within our practices. If there is a specific action or drill that you would like us to share, just drop us a message and we’ll be happy to do so.

If you have enjoyed this, you may enjoy our Motion Screen Away and Dribble Hand-Off Actions. In addition, we will be looking at our Ball Screen Concepts and Transition Philosophy in the coming weeks, so that’s something to look out for.

Until next week.

Coach Nabil Murad

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