I mention a specific book in this post. It’s a little tough to find, so we’ve provided links. When you make a purchase through these links, we earn a commission through Amazon. Learn more from our affiliate disclaimer.
The book was written by Tex Winter. As the creator of the triangle offense, Tex was instrumental in helping Phil Jackson bring the triangle (which Tex had refined in his 30 years coaching college ball) to the NBA. He served under Phil as Assistant coach with both the Lakers and the Bulls, two of the greatest NBA dynasties in history.
Whatever your coaching philosophy, there is some gold in here for you. Tex goes deep into elements of the game that go far beyond the triangle offense, and he offers up insights that are tough to find anywhere else.
But Tex’s triangle offense drills are particularly interesting. The book is a little tough to find (you can get it on Amazon but it’s a bit expensive). And the drills are provided in a very specific and comprehensive form, a little difficult to understand. I’ve dusted them off a bit and structured them in a more accessible form. The book adds a ton of detail, and if you’re serious about running a triangle offense, it’s a fantastic resource, but you should get the basic concepts from the diagrams below.
So here you go. These are Tex Winter’s triangle offense drills. If you’re looking to get this stuff off the internet and into your player’s hands, I’ve also organized these drills into a .pdf handout.
Tex Winter’s Triangle Offense Drills
The book goes in-depth, providing several versions of each of these drills. What I’ve done here is tried to reduce these variations into core progressions to make it easier to roll these systems out and adjust thema s needed.
Guard-to-Forward Pass Drill
The guard-to-forward pass is fundamental to the triangle offense. I mean, it’s pretty valuable to any offense, honestly. I’ve even included this in my collection of basic drills for a basketball offense.
This drill is intended to re-enforce proper footwork in receiving the pass. But it’s also about developing those connections between guards and forwards.
Line your guards up on a slot. Line your forwards up on the sideline, around the free throw line extended. The forward fakes a drive for the basket and immediately stops and pivots to face the ball.
And the key focus here is footwork. The forward cuts in, then pivots hard to meet the pass. That pivot, spinning out on the left foot, or in on the right foot to meet the ball, can make this a very reliable entry pass.
You can reverse the pass to the next guard in line and continue on with the drill. It doesn’t hurt to mix up the positions. Even if your guards and forwards have no crossover, there’s benefit to understanding both sides of the pass.
As this system is refined, you can expand the drill to make things more interesting. Add a defender to refine footwork against opposition. Or, you can add a shooting set…
The forward, after accepting the pass, throws another pivot to face up to the basket. They put up an outside shot and collect their own rebound, then hit the return pass to the next guard and return to the sideline queue.
Guard Outside Drill
This takes that guard-to-forward pass and expands on it. Similarly, you start with lines at the slot and the free throw extended.
Following that initial pass in the previous drill, the guard crosses behind the forward, collects a dribble-handoff and goes for the rack.
The forward, after the handoff, trails to the basket and collects the rebound. They pass back to the next guard at the slot, then head back to line up at the slot on the opposite side.
There are 2 key ways to turn the screws on this drill once it gets flowing.
- The forward position can provide defense against the attack after the handoff.
- The guard position can attempt a layup or a midrange shot.
The Rear Screen Drill
Here we throw in a screen from that forward position. And there’s a mock defender to drive the point home. As the guard approaches, the forward hops out to set a screen on the mock defender.
After the screen, the guard and forward run a two-man game into the basket. The guard can drive for the layup with the forward as a buddy. But we can also setup the pass to the forward on the roll.
For the roll, the forward pivots and heads for the basket, with a hand up as a target for the pass. the guard should complete the pass for the guard to take the shot. Get the rebound and send it back to the next guard.
With or without the pass to the roller, the guard moves to lineup in the forward queue, the forward moves to the mock defender spot, and the mock defender lines up in the opposite guard slot.
You can even set one side of the system with the pass to the roller and the other with the guard drive, so you get your players seeing alternate sets. Feel free to empower the jumpshot as well, however you see fit.
So, we’ve got 3 drill schematics, straight from the god father of the triangle offense himself. All 3 are geared towards initial entry into the half court triangle setup. It’s a good start, but this is very limited.
The deeper key to implementing the triangle as a philosophy is the intricate sense of spacing and timing that makes this offensive philosophy lethal. Ask the experts, this deeper knowledge can take years to build.
However, these drills each carry relevance into other offensive philosophies. The first drill refines the guard-to-forward pass, widely applicable in the game of basketball.
The second and third drills enforce the 2-man game on the 45° angle. I mean, if you can drive a guard and a big efficiently on that angle, that’s a strategy that’s at least as old as pro basketball.
My point here is that, while these drills are designated triangle offense drills, you shouldn’t let that limit their use. These three drilling systems can work for any offensive philosophy.