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Out-of-Bounds Plays

This is an excerpt from Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Basketball 2nd Edition by Keith Miniscalco & Greg Kot.

The ball flies, bounces, skips, and ricochets out of bounds dozens of times during a game. Bringing the ball inbounds at the other team’s end of the court actually can be pretty difficult against a tenacious defense, so it’s important to have at least a couple of inbounds plays ready that can accomplish two goals: Ensure that the ball is securely inbounded and provide an opportunity to score.


Before passing the ball, the inbounder needs to yell out the play. The play should not start until the inbounder slaps the ball with her palm or yells, "Break!" Otherwise, the players on the floor will make their cuts at different times and destroy the rhythm of the play. When inbounding the ball after the opponent has made a basket, it’s permissible for inbounders to move around behind the baseline. But on all other inbounds plays (dead ball after referee has blown a whistle), the passer must establish a pivot foot and avoid shuffling his feet. Under no circumstances may the inbounder cross the baseline or sideline before passing the ball.




The stack alignment is for inbounding under the offensive basket and gives the inbounder four passing options to four points on the floor. At least three of these options are designed to set up a shot relatively close to the basket. The fourth option is a safety pass to a guard near the top of the key. Players line up in a stack formation on the same side as the basketball (see figure 7.2). Four players should line up behind each other along the free-throw lane line above the low block. Players should stand an arm’s length apart from each other. The position for lining up in the stack (1 is the closest to the inbounder and 2 is farthest from the ball) and each player’s movements follow:

  • Player 3 inbounds the ball.
  • Player 1 breaks about 8 to 10 feet to the outside corner of the floor on the same side and looks to receive an inbounds pass for a quick outside shot.
  • Player 4 breaks to the opposite low block and looks for a quick pass for a layup or rebound and a second-shot opportunity.
  • Player 5 steps toward the inbounder and looks for a pass and a layup opportunity.
  • Player 2 cuts to the opening up high in the key area.


Player positions for the stack inbounds play.

Player positions for the stack inbounds play.


The inbounder should try to get the ball to 1, 4, or 5 for a shot. Whichever player gets open closest to the basket should get the ball. Use 2 as a safety option in case the first three options are covered. This can be confusing at first for the inbounder, but with practice, the passer will learn to see all the players as they make their breaks. It’s important for the inbounder not to focus on one target, but to use peripheral vision to see all the cutters. Over time, the inbounder can learn how to decoy the defense by pretending to focus on one cutter and passing to another.




The hawk play is designed to set up a quick shot for the inbounder after the inbounds pass is made. Ideally, the inbounder for this play should be the best outside shooter on the floor. Players set up in a box on the opposite low blocks and the elbows. Use the following player assignments and positioning:

  • Player 2 inbounds the ball.
  • Player 5 sets up on the strong-side block (in front of inbounder).
  • Player 1 sets up on the strong-side elbow.
  • Player 3 sets up on the weak-side elbow.
  • Player 4 sets up on weak-side low block.


Player 5 cuts in toward the basket and back out to the corner to receive the inbounds pass from 2. Player 1 cuts toward the basket and out toward the wing, and 5 passes to 1 (see figure 7.3a). After 5 releases the pass to 1, 2 cuts toward the basket, then breaks toward the outside corner on the same side of the floor about 12 to 15 feet from the basket. After throwing the pass to 1, 5 should turn and set a screen for 2 (figure 7.3b). Player 1 passes the ball to 2, and 2 takes a shot. Player 3 floats to the opening in the key area in case 2 cannot enter the ball to 5. Player 4 breaks in under the basket for a rebound.


(a) Player positions, early movement

(b) Final movement for the hawk inbounds play.

(a) Player positions, early movement, and (b) final movement for the hawk inbounds play.


Sideline Stack


Inbounding the ball from the sideline can be a challenge, especially if the defense is in full deny mode and itching for a steal. So it’s important for the team to have a play in place to get the ball safely inbounds and set up its offense or score quickly against an overaggressive defense. This calls for an alignment similar to the stack play.


Three players line up about 8 to 10 feet from the sideline, directly across from the inbounder and about 4 to 5 feet from one another, as shown in figure 7.4. Player 4 aligns directly across from the inbounder near the opposite sideline. The play is designed to allow player 2 to score a quick basket on a pass from 5.


Setup and initial action for sideline stack.

Setup and initial action for sideline stack.

  • Player 5 inbounds the ball.
  • Player 2 sets a screen for 1, then cuts toward the basket (after 3 sets a screen for 2; figure 7.5) looking for a pass from 5.
  • Player 1 comes off the screen and looks for a pass from 5.
  • Player 3 sets a screen for 2.
  • Player 4 runs down the floor toward the basket and looks for a pass from 2.


Triple-screen sidelines stack play.

Triple-screen sidelines stack play.


The success of this play depends on the players having the patience to set the screens in the proper sequence. Player 2 must screen for 1 before 3 screens for 2. Remember that the inbounder has five seconds to make the pass before a violation is called and the ball is turned over to the opponent. If the players rush through the play, they’ll end up colliding and nullifying the effect of the screens.

More Excerpts From Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Basketball 2nd Edition