The Flex Offense - A Good Youth Offense

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When working with young players ranging from 5 to 16 years old, we think it's important for you to run an offense that allows players to DEVELOP and improve their skills.

Some offenses are suited extremely well for development and some are not.

Here are some tips to help you improve the skills and development of your players...

1 - Put Players in ALL Offensive Positions

There's a saying that "the center of today is the point guard of tomorrow". To help players maximize their development, it's important for players to get an opportunity to play all positions (inside and outside). Too often, you see big kids stuck in the post and they never leave. These players often struggle at the varsity level because they "stopped growing" and have no skills on the perimeter.

Not to mention, some offenses require guards to post up and some offenses require post players to catch and handle the ball on the perimeter. If you want to develop more VERSATILE players, they need experience in all positions. You never know what offense they will be running in the future.

So for example, in the Flex offense, all players get post up and perimeter opportunities. If you run a motion offense, design your motion offense so all players get opportunities to touch the ball in the post and on the perimeter.

2 - Teach Offensive Concepts like Spacing, Reading Screens, and Ball Reversals

I think it's important for players to learn fundamental offense concepts. They should learn how to set and read screens. They should learn how to set and read ball screens. They should learn how to cut, change speed, and get open. They should learn proper spacing, the importance of player movement, and the importance of ball movement.

When you choose your offense and work with your players, I think it's important to keep these things in mind. By learning these concepts, players will get better and their potential will go way up.

Not all offenses allow you to develop players in these areas. I believe this is a consideration you should make when choosing and constructing your offense.

3 - Allow Players to "Play"

Giving players opportunities to read screens, read situations, and make decisions is incredible for their development!

I think a very structured and rigid offense can be counterproductive for young players. You might win a few games now. But the long term development of these players will be slowed and their potential will be limited.

No matter what offense you choose or run, I think those are three important considerations for all coaches. Even varsity high school coaches need to be developing their sophomores and juniors so they can reach their potential as seniors.

So what should you do?

We would recommend to run the motion offense or the flex offense. Can you run other offenses? Absolutely, but we know that these two offenses will definitely work.

With our teams, we like to run the motion offense because we feel that it develops the best basketball players in regards to skill development and basketball intelligence regarding offensive concepts. We prefer to implement the concepts and strategies explained in the How to Develop a High Scoring Motion Offense.

But if you prefer a little more structure, you could also use the flex offense. Just make sure to teach the motion principles and counters, so the players don't just run a pattern and turn into robots. Don Kelbick does a great job of teaching motion principles with the Flex Offense in his Hybrid Flex Offense DVD.

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


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Mike says:
11/22/2018 at 2:58:31 PM

We run R and R and Flex

R and R is taught first, along with some things that play off of that.

Flex is no different than any offense. You have to teach reactions to something being taken away and decision making.

If the pass popping up is denied, back cut or ball screen.

The offense continues because the ball has switched sides.

It''s just like coming out the wrong side on RR...adjust.

I''ve seen some diagrams of how to adjust Flex to zone, but never seen it in action.


Safety says:
5/5/2017 at 2:53:07 PM

So, How can you determine is a team is playing man to man defense or a particular zone? What are things I should look for to let me know?

Oh, by the way, thank you for that information


Safety says:
5/4/2017 at 4:19:03 PM

When talking about the Motion Offense and The Flex, I was wondering are these mainly man to man offenses with adjustments to zone?

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
5/4/2017 at 5:25:07 PM

Flex offense is meant to be used against man to man defense. Motion offense can be run against anything (man, zone, match up). We generally have a base motion offense, then when we see zone we make minor adjustments. With match up we usually don't make adjustments. They just play. That's one nice thing about motion, kids just learn "how to play" and it's usually easy for them to adapt to different defenses.


John says:
6/3/2015 at 6:37:12 PM

Flex is okay, but I think it is overly patterened for youth. They get more concerned about running the the spot than reading the floor. The pass on the top is easy to overplay and jump. Against a reasonable defense at any level, it falls apart. I've seen too many coaches use it a control mechanism to dictate who scores. Read and react / motion / equal opportunity offenses are much more valuable in teaching.


LarryGriff says:
6/3/2015 at 10:43:37 AM

One of the problems with Flex for youth teams is that if one player forgets their part, the whole thing falls apart.

With a motion, or even better, Read and React offense, if one player doesn't do what they're supposed to do, players can still move and be effective within the principles you have established.

If you teach motion/R&R principles, you're teaching kids how to play, if they learn to give and go, when to cut backdoor etc, you're teaching them skills they can use for a lifetime of basketball wherever they play. Learning Flex or any other continuity offense, you're just learning a play, sure some of the skills, like setting and coming off a pick are transferable but much of the time spent learning is wasted if they go on to play where Flex isn't used.


Chuck says:
6/3/2015 at 10:43:05 AM

I've ran the flex before and my biggest problem has been when the Defense jumps the pass to the player coming up to get it resulting in a layup on the other end. It starts with improper screens allowing the defense to get into the passing lane. Also in timing. I've coached Girls for 15 years from 3rd grade rec to 17U AAU teams and even though we've worked on the fundamental 's of good screens, passes, and timing, we still tend to fall apart under pressure and eventually give up a turnover. I've since went to my flex for situational plays rather than using it as a staple of my offense. Any advice?

  1 reply  

LarryGriff says:
6/3/2015 at 10:48:28 AM

When I was in high school, everyone ran Flex, I used to LOVE jumping into that passing lane on the down screen and getting a dunk at the other end of the court.

That was a long time ago.

With R&R or motion offense, the players have options, the defense turns up the pressure, you go back door or instead of an entry pass, you initiate the offense with a dribble at.

The most difficult thing with implementing R&R or Motion is that the coach gives up control, has to trust the players and live with the mistakes that are part of the learning process. In the end, it's well worth it.


Paul says:
6/3/2015 at 9:13:10 AM

Which offense is simpler to teach 5-6th grade boys? Experience levels differ from 1 year of playing to 5 years. Very rare to have all 5 players on the court pass and move properly. Any help in deciding whether motion or flex is more appropriate is highly appreciated. Thank you.

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
6/3/2015 at 10:08:49 AM

Personally I think motion is easier. But not all coaches like motion and prefer the structure the flex presents. I think it depends on what offense you're more comfortable with.


Ken Sartini says:
10/11/2014 at 7:45:44 AM

Red, how old are you?

Check this out


RedDragoonBITB09 says:
10/10/2014 at 10:25:44 AM

im not good at shooting can u give me tips?


Douglas Reid says:
12/13/2012 at 8:39:19 AM

Great Ideas Coach. I particularly like the idea of playing different positions regardless of size.


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