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Motion Offense for Youth Basketball

We highly recommend motion offense for youth basketball because it's an extremely effective way to develop players. Motion offense allows you to teach fundamentals while working on your team offense. That might seem strange at first, but you actually work on skills and motion offense at the same time. It's an extremely efficient way to practice. Not to mention, motion offense gives players freedom to learn "how to play".

When teaching a patterned offense and set plays, you waste countless hours trying to get players to memorize the pattern. This is a waste of time and takes away from skill development (which is the MOST important thing for young kids).

Back to my original point, here's how you can work on Skills (fundamentals) and Motion Offense at the same time...

  1. First, pick a couple cuts or screens that you think would be good for your group. For example, you could choose down-screens and away-screens.

  2. Next, run shooting/footwork drills that incorporate those movements. You could have two offensive players (no defense). One player on the wing, another player on the block. A coach or third player could have the ball on top of the key. The player on the wing sets a down screen, the other player rubs off the screen, catches the ball, pivots, and shoots. Now repeat over and over. Your players are working on screens (part of your motion offense), pivoting footwork and shooting (skills).

  3. You can do the same thing with away screens, basket cuts, and any type of cut or screen. The key is to choose a couple elements from your motion offense and turn those elements into skill building drills. Your imagination is the only limit to the types of drills you can come up with. It's also important to mix things up and make the drills fun too!

By practicing this way, you save a huge amount of time and get more done.

In a youth motion offense, your primary rules should allow you to maintain spacing, maintain order, keep people moving, and keep everyone involved. For example, use a 5-out motion and have three rules:
  1. After every pass, the passer moves. (Cut or screen)
  2. Do not stand still for more than 2 seconds.
  3. Take the first good shot.
When teaching motion to young players, don't go too fast and don't worry too much about your players executing offense. If they maintain decent spacing and move around, you are in good shape. Almost all of your time should be on skill development. Then as time goes on, you can take a skill and show them how to use it in different situations in the motion. But even before that just let the kids get comfortable on the court. Let them play and learn at the same time as you. Movement and spacing will cause things to happen. They will start figuring things out.

Youth coaches should concentrate on teaching skills and then just letting kids play. Motion is perfect for that.

Related Articles & Products

Open Post Offense - Motion Offense, Diagrams, Drills, and Plays

How To Develop a High-Scoring Motion Offense - Instructional Guide To Building Your Motion Offense.

Could 3 on 3 Basketball Be the Best for Youth Players?

Motion Offenses, Drills, & Tips


What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


Comments

Ron says:
12/28/2010 at 10:32:02 PM

When you say that the players should move after 2 seconds, WHERE should they move? Any tips? I know that some "waiting" should occur, i.e., fill up if your teammate cuts, but how do you balance that "waiting" and moving?

Thanks!


Joe Haefner says:
1/3/2011 at 9:05:41 AM

Ron, I usually start by giving them two choices: basket cut or screen away. Some teams, you have to give one choice. For example, when you pass, you cut. Then, after they get the hang out it, you can add the screening options and more.

For players away from the ball, it's simple they can cut to the basket or screen somebody. It'll be ugly at first, but as they get more experience, they'll start to figure things out. Just be patient and have fun!


Bob E says:
1/8/2011 at 2:28:14 PM

At what age group would you recommend using a motion offense? Even with 4th & 5th grade girls 90% of them new to basketball? If I had to do this first year of coaching again, I would consider starting with a motion offense instead of what we're trying now, a 1-2-2 offense with plays that incorporate dribble-drives, screens, give'n goes and hand-offs. But maybe you guys with more experience would say 4th & 5th grade is too early to introduce Motion. Something tells me teaching principles instead of plays and spending more time on drills than on diagrams would be a good thing even at the 4th & 5th grade level!


Jeff Haefner says:
1/9/2011 at 8:22:43 PM

Bob - I recommend motion offense as soon as the kids start playing basketball. The great thing about motion is that you can make it as simple as you want. You create rules that fit your team. Your rules could be as simple as:
- when you pass cut all the way to the basket
- don't stand for more than 3 seconds (cut to the basket for find another spot)

You can put them in any formation you want (5 out, 4 out 1 in, etc). Our motion offense ebook would help you better understand how it works and give you ideas for rules.


Steve Thompson says:
1/31/2011 at 5:55:31 PM

Joe and Jeff, great advice. I have been coaching basketball for over 30 years and I really appreciate your honest answers. A motion offese started right when players learn basketball will benefit them so much as they grow with the game. You've already hit on the two simplest forms, the cut to the hoop or screen away. Here is something that I do for all levels of players and that is a drill that I simple call "X". In a full court scrimmage, players are not allowed to dribble, unless in the paint. This may seem like such a simple drill but it will teach players to move without the ball as well as passers to recognize cutters. I joe said earlier "It may look ugly at first..." but you'll be surprised at how well kids will run the court and score often without ever putting the ball on the court. I use this in games just to entertain the crowd.


Joe Haefner says:
2/1/2011 at 9:30:19 AM

Steve,

I've used a similar drill called 'No Dribble', except I didn't think of letting them dribble when they get the ball in the paint. That's a great idea.

And you're right. It teaches them to move without the ball and recognize cutters!


Derek Darko says:
3/26/2011 at 10:51:51 AM

I am searching for a motion offense to implement with a group of 5th-6th graders. None are exceptionally good shooters and none are exceptionally good post players. I am looking for something easy to learn, so they do not become overwhelmed during in-game situations. What would you recommend? Thanks.


JOHN MILLER says:
4/20/2011 at 11:08:40 AM

I HAVE 2 7TH GRADE GIRLS AND THE COACH FOR THE TEAM CAN NOT COACH THE LEAGUE THEY JOINED. I PLAYED A LITTLE WHEN I WAS A KID BUT IM NOT A PRO AND THESE GIRLS ARE ALL BEGINNERS WHAT IS THE MAIN THING TO START WITH ?


DS says:
3/16/2012 at 6:37:56 PM

I love motion offense, but instead of giving choices wouldn't it be better to give them rules for when to basket cut versus pick away? I've found that with choices you get kids that always do the same thing and it usually results in basket cuts because that is easier to remember than picking away and more natural. For example, maybe say after you pass you that you basket cut if you have a clear path, but if not you pick away. The reason I think things like this are better is because I heard Andy Landers say at a clinic one time that you never give kids choices - you give them rules, because if you give them choices they will always come back with "but coach you said..." if you give them choices. He gave great examples of how he learned this in his career and it's always stuck with me! Just a thought.


Ken says:
3/16/2012 at 6:45:08 PM

If were running a 3 out or 4 out I would say, "IF the defender is above the 3 point line, V Cut & BACK DOOR ( cut all the way to the rim so you don't confuse your own player ) If he is below the arc, screen away.


Joe Haefner says:
3/19/2012 at 8:43:11 AM

DS, this is something that I've battled with too. Personally, I don't think this is much of an issue as long as you're teaching them how to play. Everybody has different styles and beliefs. And every situations is different. What might work best for my situations may not work the best for your situation.

Personally, I like to give them choices, but teach them why they might do certain cuts in certain situations. Short-term is this going to make your offense look the best... probably not, but I believe it will develop better players over the long haul. It gets them involved and it gets them thinking. When they are able to take some ownership, they become more passionate and involved with the team.

After a few years and enough repetitions, the kids start to figure out how to play basketball.

Last fall, I heard a parent say a sarcastic remark to a former coach about our "lack" of offense after the first tournament and 8 practices together. Some kids had only made it to 3 practices due to football. As you probably are already thinking, how the heck are your supposed to be getting a new group of kids executing an offense? To give you a little background, the previous year his son played on a team that had over 40 set plays in the 7th grade. Well, I only teach one motion offense and a few sets, so it was quite different.

The same parent came up to me at the end of the season and said how much better the kids got offensively individually and as a team. I think we won our last 4 tournaments after starting 1-5 in the first two tournaments.

So I know it can be done with "choices". Which way is better... who knows!?

By the way, I do use rules.

1. Keep spacing.
2. Pass and move.
3. Don't stand still for more than 3 seconds.

After that, I introduce situations and show them how you could attack in those situations.


Scott Crank says:
4/1/2012 at 6:30:31 PM

An excellent way to describe the motion offense. It is something I will try with young kids to bet them all involved with the offense


Jim J says:
7/19/2012 at 10:33:23 AM

My groups right now are 9-11, so we can put some good work into the motion offense. I usually start with 4 out and 1 roaming the baseline. The key is getting the players to move to space. After the PG makes the first pass, he is required to cut through. This then opens space for the other players to go to. I have only one or two true post players so they are the baseline players and ultimately get the ball near the hoop. Luckily, I have a passing PG who makes it all work.


David Sullender says:
11/5/2013 at 4:14:57 PM

I run a drill that I call "street ball." When you play in a pickup game or street ball you are constantly moving either cutting or screening. I tell my kids to run a half court offense as if they were street balling.
Then we introduce motion offense to them and they are amazed at how much similar it is to street ball with some rules we put in place.


buc says:
1/30/2014 at 7:25:50 AM

Does motion offense work even 2-3 zone?


Kristi says:
2/8/2014 at 11:19:47 PM

I have a problem with kids "forgetting" the offense- and just dribbling to the right baseline and getting trapped. In practice they do fine with pass, cut to the basket..., etc and in drills. At game time they seem to freeze.. Suggestions? This is a rec team, mixed ability ages 9-11


Rod says:
3/24/2014 at 8:20:07 PM

@Kristi,

I would say it''s mainly b/c your kids are right handed, don''t feed confident enough in their dribbling to go left, and get nervous in games against kids they don''t know.

I would day to introduce drills to get them passing to their left side in a circle, and dribbling off the triple threat to the left w/ their left hand as well.


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