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The motion offense can be an effective weapon

This is an excerpt from Winning Basketball Fundamentals by Lee Rose.

Motion Offense

The motion offense is an effective weapon that every team should consider adding to its repertoire, but it cannot be used as a complete offense because too many players have to handle the ball and make crucial decisions. It should be seen as one set in a team's offensive stockpile. When a team becomes stagnant and a coach wants to get the players moving, the motion offense is an excellent way to create movement.

The motion offense is usually an open offense that has no post player. It relies primarily on player and ball movement within a basic structure. Player decision making is extremely important, as are setting good screens and making good passes. But if a coach doesn't have good decision makers on the court, the motion offense will likely break down. All players need to understand the various positions and be able to execute at a high level. Thus, the motion offense should be run in short spurts rather than for an entire game.

A basic five-player motion produces a constantly moving offense that has the point guard initiating the play with a pass. The point guard either makes a hard cut to the basket or screens away with a teammate, replacing him on the point. Players must be able to read defenses for the motion offense to be effective. Some teams include pick-and-rolls with dribble-drive attacks, looking to draw and kick. Others like to run a four-player motion game with a stationary post playing either high or low. The rules remain about the same except for the greater use of the post.

Motion can also be run in a more structured way. Purists would contend that this isn't a true motion offense, but providing more structure within the set can be helpful. Purdue could run motion with 7-foot (213 cm) All-American Joe Barry Carroll, but his skills and size allowed him to establish inside position. Being an inside-out coach, my thrust was always to go inside.

A number of precautions need to be understood when running the five-player motion offense. Here are three motion option characteristics that must be implemented:

  1. Players must be able to pass and screen away.
  2. Players must be able to pass and make hard basket cuts down the middle for layups or corner screens for the power forward or center.
  3. Players must be capable ball handlers when dribble handoffs and dribble-drive opportunities present themselves.

All players must be prepared to rotate and relocate within the structure. Because the team employs ball and player movement, the big players rotate and relocate in positions where they handle the ball more. If the big players are not capable of moving out on the court, modification must be built in.

Motion Offense


Building in box-and-one options.


Motion is an open offensive set with a box-and-one alignment. Follow these steps:

  1. O4 and O5 start in the low corners, approximately 6 feet (2 m) off the baseline and 6 feet inside the sideline. O2 and O3 are at the free-throw line extended, approximately 6 feet off the sideline.
  2. O1 begins the motion from the middle of the court, 6 to 12 feet (2 to 3.5 m) above the top of the free-throw circle. From here, four motion options can be run, each initiated by a different player.
  3. O1 can pass to either side. O1 passes to O3 and has two choices:
    1. O1 can make a quick cut down the middle looking for a return pass or
    2. screen away for O2, who can backdoor cut or replace O1 in the middle position.
  4. In the middle drive option, O1 passes to O3, fakes a screen on O2's defender, and then cuts hard (figure 6.31), trying to get head and shoulders inside X1's body and the passer, O3.
  5. If open, O1 has a layup, a foul, or both. If O1 is not open and there is no return pass, O1 replaces O4 in the corner.
  6. O4 rotates and replaces O3, who now moves out front with the ball to balance the attack.
  7. O3, now with the ball, has three basic options:
    1. beat the defender off the dribble,
    2. pass to O4 and make a middle dive basket cut or set a corner screen, or
    3. pass to O2 on the wing and screen away.
  8. In the corner screen option, O3 passes to O4 and runs a corner screen for O5 (figure 6.32). O5 uses O3's screen and posts up on the strong side.
  9. If there is no pass, O5 continues to the corner strong side, O3 replaces O5, and O4 centers the ball and has the same basic three choices.
  10. In the screen away option, O4 passes to O2 and screens away for O1, who cuts hard down the middle (figure 6.33).
  11. If O1 is open, O2 looks to deliver the pass for a layup or foul. If O2 cannot make the pass, O2 now moves to the center of the floor, where he again has the same three basic choices. O1 replaces O3, O3 replaces O2, and O4 replaces O1 on the wing. O5 remains in the right corner.
  12. In the dribble handoff option, O2 dribbles to the right for a dribble handoff to O4 (figure 6.34).
  13. O4 then dribbles to the left and executes a dribble handoff with O3.

On each exchange, each dribbler looks for an opportunity to attack the basket. The action is similar to a three-player weave with dribble-drive opportunities. These options continue until a score, foul, missed shot, or turnover occurs.


More Excerpts From Winning Basketball Fundamentals



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