3 out 2 in Motion Offense

The 3 out 2 in motion offense plays 3 players on the perimeter and 2 players in the post. This set works best when at least one of the post players can shoot a bit.

In the 3 2 motion, perimeter players space outside the lane (green area) while the inside is reserved for the 2 post players (blue area).

The post players can move in a high low post fashion or can work as a double low post. The two post players work together, screening for one another, trying to create offensive opportunities off one another. As they screen, they read the defense and react. For example, when screening, if the post cuts off the screen to a high flash, the screener roles low. If the cutter flashes low, then the screener cuts high.

The posts also fill gaps in the offenses spacing. For example, if there is no perimeter player on top, a post player can fill the spot.

Post players can also screen for perimeter players. The 2 post players are very effective setting down-screens, UCLA screens, flex screens, flare screens, etc.

Perimeter players can cut through the middle and off post screens but should leave the lane immediately. They can also pass and screen for each other. The presence of a second post player presents great opportunities for stagger screens for perimeter players.

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Coach B says:
10/19/2019 at 1:01:01 PM

What are the correct perimeter cuts when running the 3 out 2 in in a pass and cut fashion? A pass from top to wing? Pass from wing back to top. Pass to high post? Pass to low post? Thanks! Love the site!

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Jeff Haefner says:
10/19/2019 at 4:29:29 PM

I don't think there is a right or wrong cut to make, as long as you keep good spacing. That is the primarily rule... keep space. So from there you can use your imagination and use any screen or cut you want. You can let players choose or you can limit them to certain types of cuts or screens.

With that said, in the 3-2 formation, there's not much space cutting to the basket... so I'd either use a shallow cut or use the basket cuts in moderation. Perimeter players in this formation often screen away, flare screen, and shallow cut.

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Coach B says:
10/19/2019 at 5:17:36 PM

Thanks Jeff for the reply. Most of the time when you see a 3-2 motion like this diagrammed the top player passes, cuts and replaces away. The wing player then passes back to the top either not cutting or cutting and replacing where they came from. Basically a deep v cut. Is there any harm in the top player passing and cutting to the ball side corner? Or the wing when passing back to the top cutting to the opposite corner? It seems this would set up a nice overload when playing against a zone.

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Jeff Haefner says:
10/20/2019 at 9:16:25 AM

That is definitely something you can try. Again, I believe as long as you have spacing, any type of cut is fine. Some coaches say there is a right or wrong way to do things. I don't believe that. I have seen so many different offenses and different (sometimes conflicting) philosophies regarding motion. They are all based on the fundamental components of spacing, player movement, ball movement, shot selection, and player skills. If you have those things, you will be successful.

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Coach B says:
10/20/2019 at 10:27:04 AM

Thanks again Sir. I had read once where you like to got 4 out against man and 3 out against zone? What did you do with your three perimeter players? I would like to be able to go 4 out and 3 out with a group of 6-8 grade girls but I’m afraid of the confusion with cutting in a 4 out vs 3 out.

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Jeff Haefner says:
10/20/2019 at 11:57:41 AM

I might have wrote that at one point. Over the years I have run 3 out, 4 out, and 5 out against zone. They all work. With that said, I don't think your players will have trouble switching from 3 out to 4 out. That is, as long as you don't completely change rules with switching to different formations and you keep things simple.

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Coach B says:
10/20/2019 at 12:20:29 PM

Thanks Jeff. A couple final questions. I do appreciate it. I plan to keep the rules the same. Pass and cut to begin with then screen away. Would you teach the 4 out first then the 3 out? What do you personally do with your three perimeter players in 3 out when passing/cutting vs man and vs zone? Top to wing shallow cut to week side wing with week side wing filling top? I get confused on what cut to make when passing back from wing to top? Deep V cut? Shallow to opposite corner? Let the player decide as long as correct spacing is achieved? Thanks. I have purchased your motion e-book and working through it.

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Jeff Haefner says:
10/20/2019 at 3:33:41 PM

Ok. I don't want to muddy the waters more. But I would not run 3 out 2 in at all. That's just me. In fact, I almost never run it because it clogs the middle quite a bit. And if I did run it, I would spread things out using short corners, high posts, and weakside position... and only use it with older players because the spacing and actions are more complicated. When I have use 3 out in the past, it was mostly a static 3 out zone offense with short corner, high post, little player movement... mostly based on passing.

At the age you're coaching, I would run 4 out and/or 5 out motion. If running 4 out, I would be sure to give my posts a chance to play on the perimeter so I don't pigeonhole them into a position they may not run as the get older. For development reasons I think all players need to learn how to play on the perimeter.

I actually don't even use "formations" against man defense anymore... I just want spacing. But our offense probably looks closest to a 5 out motion with temporary posts ups down low, mid or high post.

There are so many effective ways I could give you to run 5 out, 4 out, and 3 out against zone. But I'll give you my simplest advice for coaching an middle school age kids and a coach new to running this offense:
1) run 5 out motion against man to man (maybe run 4 out or mix it in, if you prefer).
2) run this continuity against zone:
http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/pr/kelbick-zone-offense.html

I promise this will be effective. It's fairly simple and proven. It will require no experimenting on your part.

My rules for 5 out motion:
- keep spacing, roughly 15 ft apart
- after every pass, you must cut or screen (note: I either do not allow ball screens or just allow certain players to set them)
- when you are one-pass from the ball and not wide open, cut or screen immediately (preferably read the defense.. back cut if denied, face cut if defender even with you, etc)
- share the ball... reverse it and move the ball
- need one player in weakside rebounding position on every shot

Run this from 5 out or even 4 out, and all the questions you are asking are now irrelevant. Follow those rules, teach them skills, teach them to cut and screen, and teach them the zone offense in the video.

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Coach B says:
10/20/2019 at 8:27:14 PM

I appreciate all the advice Jeff. I am going to purchase the video and ebook for that zone offense that you shared. Also thanks for the advice on the 4 out and 5 out. I know you really like the 5 out and I do too, I just have a really tall girl that I feel will be effective under the basket more is why I was going to run 4 out. However, I think I will try both. I think they will both be easier to implement over the 3 out 2 in.

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Coach B says:
11/7/2019 at 7:34:56 AM

Jeff,
When you add the pass and screen away layer to your motion, do you screen away and have the player being screened for basket cut, while the screener replaces himself? Or screen away and the person being screened for replaces screener and vice versa? This is a group of 6-8 grade girls in a 4 out 1 in set. Thanks

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Jeff Haefner says:
11/7/2019 at 9:32:18 AM

In the 4 out and 5 out set, I teach screen away cuts in this order:
1) Curl off the screen (base cut).
2) Reject the screen.
3) Straight cut.

This video uses different terminology but explains all 3 of those cuts:
http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/drills/3-screen-away.html

I always start with curl cut (same terminology).
Reject the screen = back cut
Straight cut = blast cut.

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Coach B says:
11/8/2019 at 9:39:58 PM

Thanks Jeff. We are still working at the pass and cut layer right now. Can pass and cut itself be successful against man to man at the 6-8 grade level?

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Jeff Haefner says:
11/9/2019 at 6:50:44 AM

Yes, it can. I have seen high school teams win state championship with 5 out pass and cut type of offense. The only wrinkle they added was an occasional called player for high ball screen. Otherwise, cutting only. With that said, I do recommend adding some screening eventually, for development purposes.

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Coach B says:
11/9/2019 at 1:32:08 PM

Yes I plan to add screening. Just not enough practice time before the first game!

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Brad says:
1/17/2019 at 9:01:02 PM

So, I coach 8th girls with little game experience and I am a firm believer in a motion offense to teach them to play vs just memorizing set plays. My two rules are: 1. ball up top, screen down 2. ball on side, screen away. Any possible drills besides practicing setting screens to help with the concept of the offense.

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Eric says:
12/3/2012 at 11:46:37 PM

So far much better. Actually went with having the PG call out another position (2, 3, 4, 5) and that person picks where they go. They set a screen a player and that player moves to open position. At least it is getting them moving and easier to understand!
thanks!

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Ken says:
12/3/2012 at 8:44:21 AM

Eric -

Try to keep this as simple as possible.. how about pass and cut, then fill the open spaces?

These are young kids and they are just learning the game. Heck, I have seen some Vasrity players that get lost from time to time.

Like I said before, maybe an open post offense would be better? You know your kids better than we do.

Try the plan B ( (Steve's advice ) and then add / move on from there. Bottom line is that you are going to just have to keep teaching them a lot of fundamentals and hope they pick things up and learn enough to be able to play the game. Good luck

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Jeff Haefner says:
12/1/2012 at 8:22:25 AM

Eric - Sounds like a good plan. If you still have trouble after following Steve's advice, let us know. I have no doubt you can make the motion offense work and if you get stuck we have plenty of tricks to help.

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Eric says:
11/30/2012 at 2:32:19 PM

actually, looking back and seeing Steve''s comments, that sounds familiar. i may try that method. thanks!

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Eric says:
11/30/2012 at 12:16:54 PM

hey there! i've followed a ton of advice from you guys, so thank you! I'm coaching 11-12 year olds, and they just can't transfer what they are learning in practice into the game. i'd say it's all my fault but my assistant is actually really solid and teaching the kids great fundamentals. so we think we're doing ok, and the kids are doing great in practice. soooo...what can we do on offense? the kids are having trouble even remembering to execute the first initial moves of the motion offense and it instantly breaks down into a free for all. We've tried not to complicate things too much.
thanks for any advice you might have!

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Jeff says:
3/6/2012 at 12:03:28 PM

The reason you ran into problems with the motion offense is because you have to run breakdown drills and implement one concept at a time. Most of these concepts are typical basketball concepts that they need to learn anyway. You can think of it as a component that you utilize. Pick and roll and give and go are the two most basic concepts of basketball. Those can be part of motion offense. Once you get the essentials down and they are moving more fluid you keep adding. You do this in practice as drills and drill it until it becomes habit. For instance you create guard, post and combination drills where they execute the basic movements and it becomes routine, then you combine them on the floor when it is learned. Forcing a structured routine doesn't work because the defense can force you out of your entire offense very easily if everything has a dependency. What you get by drilling is they don't think about it like they do when you explain it as step 1, step 2, step 3, step 4, etc. You tell them, let's get the ball to the wing and run pick and roll or screen away or high low. What this does is create a series of actions that they don't think about. In the end, your problem isn't really the offense, it is the inability of the players to think and be physically active at the same time. Kind of like reading the entire chapter of a book and trying to memorize the whole thing rather than studying and understanding the message. Hope this isn't too much feedback.

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Ken says:
1/19/2012 at 2:18:14 PM

Steve -

More than one way to skin a cat huh!

We ran a 5 out Open Post and there were few rules ..... there were only 2 basic cuts and 5 spots to fill. Keep moving, read the defenese and get open.

The younger the kids the simpler it has to be unless they have already played for several years.

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Steve Kern says:
1/19/2012 at 9:28:26 AM

Love this site. This is my second year coaching youth boys basketball, I'm coaching 6th graders now. Not many experienced players on my team so I figured I had to teach them set plays or they'd be running around like chickens with their head cut off. I felt I had to give them direction in where to go and when. They did great with these plays in practice but once they put the uniform on they forgot everything. I realized that they weren't learning basketball, they were learning patterns. But to them, remembering those patterns was too hard. They HATED our Motion offense, too hard they said. 3 out 2 in motion offense, guard passes to the wing, two closest to the ball would screen away, etc., etc. look for cutters. They couldn't get it and said it was too complicated. After getting beat BAD in our first two games trying set plays and some motion, there needed to be a change. So last night I told them we were using a brand new offense. I didn't give it a name, I just told them they have certain spots that needed to filled at all times, while many certain rules had to be followed, you can do anything you want (they loved that idea). They played great! Doing plays that I had tried to teach them earlier all on instinct and making their own decisions (give and go, pass to elbow and take a handoff, etc., etc) now they were learning basketball instead of being stressed about learning a pattern. At the end of practice I gathered them all around (all 14 of them) and told them they just ran a pretty successful motion offense. They stared at me in disbelief. Hopefully the year goes better and they'll learn more about the game. Took me a while, but you gotta keep it simple at this age.

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