12 Steps To Building Your Motion Offense

This is an excerpt from our eBook that accompanies Don Kelbick's Motion Offense DVDs.

This shows you the step-by-step process that Don Kelbick uses to implement a motion offense.

We have also added videos and article links to help demonstrate some examples.

Step 1 - Three Basic Rules

These three basic rules for motion offense will govern any situation that your players find themselves in, and should be emphasized at all times. The first step in implementation is to explain these rules to the players:

    1. Share the Ball

    2. Do What You Do Best, and Recognize What Your Teammates Do Best

    3. Create Space

Every movement and decision a player makes on the court should adhere to these rules at all times. Players may find themselves in a thousand different situations, some of which you may not have covered in practice, but these three rules will always apply.

Step 2 - Select Your Cuts and Screens

As a coach, you must decide what offensive actions you would like to incorporate into your motion.

In this video, we identified 28 different screens and cuts that could be utilized in your motion offense. You can use as many different options as you are comfortable with. Those may also change depending on your personnel, the type of team you have, or the opponent you are preparing for.

It may be helpful to create a list of the cuts and screens you want to emphasize in your offense. Prioritize your list so that those actions that are the most important to the success of your offense are at the top of the list. This list may change as your offense evolves over time. However, it is a useful tool to help organize your skill development drills and practice time.

Here is a video of 17 basketball screens for your offense. You can also view the full article:

Step 3 - Drill in Pieces - 2v0 Drills

After I have identified the cuts and screens that I want to incorporate into my motion offense, I begin my implementation by drilling in pieces. I do this without defense so that the offense can become comfortable with each action without being distracted by what the defense is doing.

I like to begin by having players learn the screens and cuts that I think are important within a two-man game. The motion offense video demonstrates a number of 2v0 screening and cutting combinations. These provide the structure to learn the movements within the motion offense, and will give you a context for your skill development.

Once you have chosen what actions you want to emphasize, you can begin to design drills to reinforce those screens and cuts.

Here are some examples of two player drills that you use to initially teach cuts and screens at the beginning of the season:

Step 4 - Drill in Pieces - 3v0 Drills

Once players begin to understand the scoring actions in the two-man game, I add another offensive player and put them through as many situations as possible in a three-man unit.

Again, while we are in the teaching phase, I do this without defense so that the offense can focus on their coordinated movement without worrying about how they are being defended.

As we progress through the teaching process, I will determine the options within each drill until the players become more comfortable with what actions are available to them.

Step 5 - 3v0 Dummy Offense

It is not possible to go through every situation that will happen in a game. Therefore, the next progression is to allow players the freedom to make their own decisions without the coach dictating what actions to take. This allows players to interpret what they see on the floor and do something that is appropriate. Players learn to react to different situations instinctively which makes for a more fluid motion offense.

Step 6 - Play 3v3 Live

Once players are comfortable in 3v0 Dummy Offense, we immediately add defense and play live. I may place offensive players in common situations to start each possession, but once the ball is in play, the offense is free to do whatever they want as long as they share the ball, do what they do best, and create space.

An alternative version of this drill is called the "Continuous 3 on 3".

Step 7 - 4v0 Dummy Offense

After players become comfortable operating as a three-man unit, I add a fourth offensive player and return to playing Dummy Offense. With four players on the court, new situations will arise that were not possible previously.

It is important to note that I utilize Dummy Offense more frequently during the teaching phase of my implementation while players are still learning how to incorporate the various cuts and screens into the offense. In this stage, I require them to make more passes before taking a shot so that they learn to move in concert with one another.

Step 8 - Play 4v4 Live

As players progress in 4v0 Dummy Offense, I add defense and allow the players to compete in live situations. I will continue to utilize various restrictions on the offense to emphasize the need for multiple passes, ball reversals, post touches, etc.

Playing 4 on 4 gives the offense great spacing, and provides everyone an opportunity to handle the ball. We utilize this in implementation and throughout the season to practice our motion offense.

Here is an example of a drill that requires three ball reversals before a jump shot. For a deeper explanation of the drill, you can view this article:
Motion Offense Drill & Brad Stevens' Secret To Better Offense

Here is an example of a drill that requires the designated player to shoot the basketball. For a deeper explanation of the drill, you can view this article:
One of the best motion offense drills that you will find (even during games)

Step 9 - Drill in Common Situations with 4v0 Dummy Offense

As I continue through the implementation process, I not only use restrictions, but I also drill in common situations. I do this by returning to 4v0 Dummy Offense. However, I now orchestrate the player's initial action and alignment so that players learn to act appropriately in situations that happen most frequently in games. Numerous examples can be found in Chapter 4: Common Situations.

Step 10 - Drill in Common Situations with 4v4 Live

Once players begin to understand the options available to them in common situations, I add defense and play live.

Step 11 - Play 5v4

The implementation phase, I add a fifth offensive player before adding a fifth defender to allow the offense to explore their options as a five-man unit. I will, however, restrict one offensive player by not allowing them to shoot. The open player now learns how to create scoring opportunities for the other four players who are defended.

Step 12 - Play 5v5

Players are now ready to compete in a five-on-five situation. You may use restrictions or scripted entries to hone the skills that your motion offense requires.

We use restrictions and contraints to polish our offense and solve problems like:

  • Get more ball reversals
  • Improve shot selection
  • Create better shooting opportunities
  • Get the ball inside
  • Make crisper cuts
  • Play more decisive
  • Get more player movement and less standing
  • Improve screening fundamentals

You can see how we solve these problems and use contraints in chapter ?.

What's Next?

Beginning with Chapter 8, I present other aspects of the offense that you may want to incorporate into your program.

These include dribble entries, various player alignments, quick hitters, and transition options to provide you with different ways to get into your motion offense. Consider what entries will be most successful for your team and begin to utilize them to initiate your offense in both drill and competition.

Don Kelbick's Motion Offense -- DVD 2-Pack & Supplemental eBook.

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

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Todd says:
12/8/2017 at 7:40:02 AM

I thought Don was all about the flex offense, no?

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
12/8/2017 at 8:32:36 AM

Normally, I would double check with Don before responding, but he was out of the country and could take a few days to respond.

I've known Don for a little over a decade now.

And when it comes to youth and high school basketball, Don is a big promoter of the motion offense. Even at the college level, I BELIEVE motion offense was his primary offense.

However, when he teach the flex offense, many motion concepts are used. It's not a strict patterned offense. From my understanding, the flex was a complement to his motion at the college and pro levels.

For my youth and hs teams, I only run motion offense now. It allows me to spend way more time on teaching them HOW to play and develop basketball skills. This maximizes long term development... whether it's from beginning to end of season or over a few years.


Todd C says:
12/8/2017 at 12:47:48 PM

Love this offense against man-to-man or pack-line defense...but I have been getting a lot of 2-3 zone thrown against the team lately...any suggestions on how to attack the 2-3 zone with this offense?

  2 replies  

Coach Wade says:
12/8/2017 at 1:55:38 PM

Use the same cuts and screens just focus your screens to the top of the zone. For example run overload and as the action is taking place set a double screen on top man or stagger screen one on top and one on bottom man. Penetrate and kick. Just have to see what fits your team. Just my opinion


Jeff says:
12/9/2017 at 6:27:40 AM

Todd - Do you have the Kelbick motion DVDs? He covers how to attack the zone using his motion in the videos. There are lots of different ways to tweak a motion to attack a zone. But that's what I would recommend.

  1 reply  

Todd C says:
12/9/2017 at 12:01:08 PM

My mistake...did not see until I read the full description. Bought this morning! Thanks.


Andrew Smith says:
12/9/2017 at 9:35:09 PM

What exactly does "making space" mean? I do have the Don Kelbick ebook.

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
12/11/2017 at 8:36:55 AM

This is a little hard to explain in text. But in short it means players should maintain about 15' feet of space between them. If the ball is dribbled toward you, the player needs to back cut, flare, or maybe take a hand off the create space. Players should try to avoid cutting into each other (ex: a post player) to create space. When you catch the ball, look for pass opposite to create space (where there are no defenders). Their cuts, screens, passes, and various actions should create space.


Colleen C says:
12/15/2017 at 3:22:01 PM

This is a great post! I coach middle school girls basketball and usually found that the motion "rules" I used to talk about involved cuts, screens and timing. Really good advice that usually got me a "whaaa??" look. I''ve used these new basic rules as the "keys to the game" recently and as soon as I said, "Share the ball", talked about doing what each player does best and just create space (which means you have to move, cut and/or screen), it all seemed to click. My guards started dribbling less and passing more, Different players started getting more shots and taking better ones. I also used the "designated shooter" for an entire last quarter when our team was comfortably ahead - our shooter was a girl who has never touched a basketball before this year and her steady work on fundamentals is progressing fast, but she was missing the concept of how she had to move away from the ball to be in a better position to receive it. By the end of the quarter of everyone trying to get her the ball, you could see the light totally going on for her. Also just so fun to see every one of her teammates working hard to get her a shot.
Thanks again for all you do!!!

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
12/15/2017 at 3:50:56 PM

That's awesome, Colleen. Thanks for sharing!


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