The fast break is the ultimate offensive weapon. It allows for maximum penetration and is the most efficient way of scoring points. With the defense on the run, the offense often has the advantage in momentum and manpower.
In a typical fast break situation, the defending team gets the ball and passes it to their fastest player, who then sets up the fast break. That player speed-dribbles the ball upcourt, with several players trailing him. He will then either pass the ball to another player for a quick basket, or take the shot himself.
If the ball handler gets down court quickly and before the defense sets up, he can achieve with one pass what would take three, four, five, or more passes to achieve in pattern situations. The fast break also allows every player to become a potential scorer. Even the mediocre scorer, who would get no more than half a dozen scoring opportunities a game when running patterns, can pick up two, three, or four easy baskets a game if he hustles on the fast break.
Running an effective fast break puts extreme pressure on the opponents, affecting their offensive tempo and forcing the coach to adjust his defenses. It can also lead to better defense on the part of the fast-breaking team. It can stimulate the players’ aggressive defensive play so that they come up with many more aggressive rebounds.