5 Out Motion Offense - Cutters

This 5 out motion offense is an extremely simple offense to teach that could be used for a number of reasons.

  1. Primary offense. Throughout my varsity career, we utilized this offense with great success because it opened up the lanes for dribble penetration and cuts that allowed us to utilize our team's quickness. As a freshman in high school, I saw Cedar Rapids Prairie win the Iowa state championship using this as their primary offense.

  2. Easy To Teach - This offense could very easily be taught in one day!

  3. Delay offense. If you want to hold the ball until you get a lay up or the final shot to end the quarter, this offense is ideal for those situations.

  4. Foundation for any motion offense at any level. This offense can be used as a building block to teach your players basket cuts, back cuts, and how to react to dribble penetration.

  5. Great For Youth Teams - Great foundation as mentioned in #4 and you can teach more options as the team progresses.

Breakthrough Bonus: Download the "5 Out Motion Offense - Cutters" article as a FREE PDF! (Download Now!)


  • Rule 1 - Pass then basket cut. After the basket cut is made, fill the open spot along the baseline.

    1 Cuts and fills the opposite baseline spot.

  • Rule 2 - If the player in front of you cuts, replace him.

    3 replaces 1.

    5 replaces 3.

  • Rule 3 - Cut Only When You Pass The Ball or when the player with the ball is looking at you.

  • Rule 4 - The ball should only be dribbled to improve floor balance or beat the player.

  • Rule 5 - Avoid passing to the corner & keep the ball above the free throw line extended.

    If you're coaching a youth team, I'd also be hesitant towards placing this rule. With youth teams, you want to allow more freedom.

Teaching Points To Better Execute The Offense:

These are some things that you will want to teach your players along the way. Be careful on teaching these points all at once. Otherwise, it can overwhelm them.

  • All cuts are finished at the rim.

  • Passer must watch the cutter all the way though. This helps with timing for the next player filling the vacant spot.

  • When replacing the cutter, wait until the player with the ball is about done looking at the cutter. This will help with timing and setting up the defender for a back cut or straight cut.

  • Back cut when the defender is near 3-point line. Some coaches like to say on the 3-point line, 1 step from the 3-point line, or 1 foot from the 3-point line. It's up to you to decide what works best for you.

  • Always have the ball in triple threat and be ready to dribble penetrate. This offense can sometimes lull the defense to sleep which gives the ball handler opportunities to attack the basket.

Example of an Offensive Sequence

Remember, to execute this offense all you need to know are the 5 rules above. Those rules explain what to do in virtually every situtation. With that said, there are little teaching points that make this offense more effective. Below you'll find a sample sequence to help you see how everything fits together. As you go through the sequeunce, you'll notice that the 5 rules are always followed.

5 Out Set.

Very important to keep spacing for dribble penetration and cutters.

2 & 3 should be near the free throw line extended.

4 & 5 should be in the corners.

1 passes the ball to 2 on the wing.

After the pass, 1 basket cuts straight to the rim. Then, fills the spot in the opposite corner.

3 fills the spot on the top of the key.

5 fills the wing.

The defender guarding 3 pressures the pass and steps to the 3-point line.

3 back cuts. 2 looks to pass the ball if 3 is open.

3 fills the open spot along the baseline.

5 fills the top of the key.

1 fills the wing.

2 passes the ball to 5.

2 basket cuts and replaces open spot along baseline.

4 fills the spot.

The pass is not open, so 4 back cuts.   

After 4 cleared the lane, 5 looks to the opposite wing at 1.

1 basket cuts

3 replaces.

5 passes to 3.

5 basket cuts.

2 & 4 fill the open spots.

Remember, 2 & 4 should not replace as soon as 5 basket cuts. They want to pause until 5 has almost reached the basket to ensure proper timing.

5 clears the lane.

3 dribble penetrates.

Penetration is cut off. 3 kicks it out to 1 in the corner.

1 dribbles towards the wing to create floor balance.

As 1 dribbles to the wing, 2 back cuts.

1 passes to 2 for a lay up.

Other Situations:

Pass To Corner

Defender packs down near the lane in the corner to help on penetration and basket cuts.

If the player in the corner is a slasher or scorer, you can pass him the ball and allow him to shoot or attack.

Prevent 5 second call

2 passes the ball to the corner to avoid the 5 second call and basket cuts.

5 immediately dribbles to the wing and looks to the top of the key to start the offense again.   

What To Do With A Good Post Player

If you have a good post player, you can give them permission to sit in the post for 2 seconds to try to get position.

1 passes to 2. 1 basket cuts.

1 cuts over to the post area to hold the position for 2 seconds.

3 hesitates to fill the spot until the post starts to clear. If 3 leaves too early, it can throw off the timing.

Related Articles & Products

Don Kelbick's Motion Offense - A Comprehensive Guide to Implementing a Motion Offense

The Open Post Motion Offense DVD with Lason Perkins

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

Motion Offense For Youth Basketball

Fast Break Offense - Carolina

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

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Joe O'Shea says:
4/9/2009 at 8:01:10 AM

does this also work when you play against zones? do you suggest any modifications if you were to run it against a zone?

  1 reply  

Chris says:
2/9/2015 at 4:07:03 PM

No. You have to modify the cuts to seam cuts or "banana" cuts. After the pass, the cutter goes behind a defender's line of vision and camps in or near the lane for 1 or 1.5 seconds. Pass receiver should look to get him the ball. That forces the D to collapse and you can play inside out with kick passes to the arc for threes or dribble penetration.


Joe Haefner says:
4/9/2009 at 10:45:52 AM

Hi Joe,

You can tweak things to make it work against a zone. You could have them fill spots rather than just through the lane. For example, when they cut, you could have them fill the mid post and/or the short corner.

We talk about this more in-depth in the Motion Offense eBooks and the audio interview included with the product.

  1 reply  

Mike Terlizzi says:
1/22/2019 at 10:07:11 AM


Love all your info. Have been following for years. Don't want to bore you, but want to give you some insight and see if you can provide advice.

I coach middle school boys. I generally have 3 or 4 kids that can play adequately, and the rest are new to the sport. We typically are not very competitive vs the teams that provide feeder programs. This year I really concentrated on the basics with them in an effort to not overwhelm them and hope to play some close games.

I used many of your drills during practice to get them making athletic moves and thinking about their options with the ball. On defense I have 2 tall kids and 3 athletic wing type of players. We implemented the 3-2 zone to keep things simplified. Defensively, we have been pretty solid.

On offense, we have a solid, undersized pg and some decent 3 point shooters. Down low we have a big who is just understanding how big he is, but misses many "easy" shots and quickly gets into foul trouble. We have made great strides and have actually taken a double digit lead into halftime 3 times this year. In each of those games, the other team has come back and beaten us...twice in overtime.

My main question for you revolves around halftime adjustments, and what I can do differently to get these kids to close out a game. They get stagnant on offense and forget how they scored to take the lead...or the other coach is adjusting better than I am. I'm concerned that because I never established a true identity on offense, they don't have anything to fall back on when the going gets tough.

Appreciate any feedback.

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
2/3/2019 at 4:04:16 PM


You're stunting their development. Teach them man-to-man defense and don't play zone. Ever. You'll give up a few wins, but their high school coach will thank you. The intensity and focus needed to play fundamental man to man defense will help carry them through closing out games.


Joe O'Shea says:
4/9/2009 at 4:37:00 PM

Will get the e-book after the Easter holiday, but why is it best for the other 3 players to stand around rather than say exchanging on the weakside and/or having the strongside corner moving and replacing himself? Or would this be added in later after learning the basket cut?


Mark Gannon says:
4/9/2009 at 5:53:04 PM

Do you have any specific set plays off this offense? What I really like is how it spreads the court. I coach a very basketball smart 8th grade girls with no true star.


Joe Haefner says:
4/10/2009 at 8:13:06 AM


That is certainly a possiblity. I have not tried that. I'm worried it could mess with the timing, but it could also make the offense more effective. Try it and see what happens. If you don't like it, you can always take it out.


There are an infinite amount of plays you could do. Take some of the plays in our plays section or plays ebook. Start with 5 out, a pass and cut, then go from there.


If you have not downloaded our free plays ebook, go here: http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/freebooks.html


leroy says:
4/13/2009 at 8:21:45 PM

can i stick a backscreen in and call it wildcats?


Carlo Dorigoni says:
4/27/2009 at 3:04:44 PM

I've been forced to use this offense since 2 of my post players have been unable to attend a few games and tournaments.
I haven't been a fan of the 5-out because of being out of place to box out and rebound.
It is a perfect offense if you have a team that never misses. We practice collasping to box out on shot.
It has been working for my girls AAU JV team.


Greg says:
11/13/2009 at 9:19:40 AM

I'm intrigued by the idea of a 5 out offense, but like the above poster, I'm worried about rebounding. What instructions should you give the kids for rebounding and court balance? Who should rebound and who should stay back?


Jeff Haefner says:
11/13/2009 at 8:50:35 PM

Greg - I would always have the person at the top of the key responsible for getting back on defense. Everyone else should crash the boards!

Keep in mind that this spread offense will get lots of dribble drive penetration. That allows you to get lots of rebounds in the following ways...

1) The player driving gets close to the basket and if they miss, they are in good position for the put back rebound.

2) Teach their teammates to follow the player driving to the basket. Many times if you follow a player driving in for a lay up, you'll find the ball in your lap for a rebound. That's one of the best times to crash the boards.

If you emphasize rebounding, teach players to anticipate, and teach players where the ball is most likely to go, you can rebound very effectively with this offense.

If you really want to get good at rebounding, check out this book. Follow the advice there and you can rebound extremely well no matter what offense you run.


Kevin says:
12/10/2009 at 8:57:54 PM

I ran this for 3 years with a few more wrinkles. I allowed the passer to either pass and cut or pass and screen away. The guy being screened would then either replace the screener or curl to the basket and then the same action would occur with replacing and floor balance.

I also liked the dribble hand off with the option to go backdoor or curl off the hand off. With these options, the defense would have to worry about more things happening.


Jeff King says:
3/4/2010 at 11:50:17 PM

I just concluded my 5th grade boys season and ran a motion offense for the first time this year. I absolutely loved the offense! I initially tried a 1-3-1 set but found the boys at the free throw line and under the basket "got lost" - never were fully involved. I transitioned into a 5-out where all five became much more involved. We had a few basic rules but really stressed and practiced for the kids to be able to read the defense for opportunities. The kids loved being in control. I really believe teaching the kids to read and react rather than being somewhat mechanical with set plays speeds in their understanding of the game. We played several teams that were lost if their set plays did not work. Sticking to some basic Motion Offense rules lessens these chaotic moments. I recommend the Motion Offense ebook - great resource! I can't wait to get back in the gym with the kids.


Coach T. says:
4/4/2010 at 11:56:35 PM

The 5 out cutters offense seems very similar to the Read and React System by Rick Torbett. This is a motion offense with specific actions for certain movements. For example, when you pass you must cut and others will fill spots as well as dribble at someone and backdoor cut. These are basic motion rules but in the Read and React there are rules which allow the players to know what to do in different situations. I really enjoy this offense because it is teaching young men how to play the game. Also, it can be run against man and zone which is great. Against a zone after you pass you fill one of the 4 spots in the lane and wait until the next pass is made to leave. Great offensive system and also Great website y'all are running. I have been hooked for the last few days!


Coach Roberts says:
6/9/2010 at 11:13:44 PM

I would like to ask a few questions of the crowd here, as I have attempted to implement this offense in mid-season to keep our kids from dribbling aimlessly and trying to do the same thing everytime down court. They are 9-10-year-olds. I have had some success at matching them up two-on-two with me passing the ball. This was aimed at teaching them to move without the ball and screen for each other, curl and basket cut.

When I put five together on the court and try to get them moving, they all move. No problem there. Problem is they don't move to a spot that would make the rules work. If the point passes to a wing and goes to set a screen, and the wing opposite is gone cutting to the basket, then clearing out to the corner, and the corner man is standing in the short corner five feet away, the opposite corner has crashed the boards, and we have a smashup in the lane. I can't deal with the lack of disciplined movement. I have attempted to lecture them on moving with a purpose thusly: If you leave your spot on the floor (other than to crash the boards), you must do one of four things: cut to the basket, screen away from the ball, screen on the ball, or v-cut to get open on the perimeter.

I have been sold on 5-out for a while now, but implementing it is not easy at all, and certainly can't be done in one practice with the level of grey matter I have. We have five with some talent and five that can't tie their shoes.

I have the book, but here is what I'd really like to see: how about taking some kids say, 13-14 and shooting video of them moving in a patterned way without defense to get the basics down, then later in the video with defense to give them the perspective of keeping spacing? Video wouldn't have to be more than 20 minutes. This is all so simple, but so foreign to these kids. Any suggestions would be appreciated greatly. And what about video? Anyone skilled in that area? I'd pay $100 for it.


Joe Haefner says:
6/10/2010 at 8:19:28 AM

Coach Roberts,

I can feel your pain. I just started working with a group of 3rd graders as well. I can tell you one thing, if you’re striving for control and discipline, you might as well quit or run a patterned offense which you don’t want to do. You’re not trying to develop robots. 9 & 10 year olds are not mentally capable to do the things that you want.

On the first day, I gave them the simple rule of pass and move. They were running into each other, all moving at the same time, tripping, and everything else.

Now before I give you this step by step advice, keep this in mind. Things are going to look UGLY for the next few years. It’s just part of the developmental process. But when they start to hit 6th, 7th, & 8th grade, you’ll see how they are light years ahead of everybody else. And when you start to see a few of your kids playing high school ball, it should be very rewarding.

Here is a sample 3on3 progression to get them started:

1. Teach them how to catch, pivot, & get in triple threat off of every pass. If they don’t, automatic turnover.
2. After every pass, basket cut.
3. No Dribble – they can’t dribble the ball. Teaches them to value the pass.
4. 2 Dribble Limit (maybe 3 for 9&10 year olds)- this teaches them to get somewhere with the dribble.
5. After every pass, set a ball screen.
6. After every pass, set a ball screen or basket cut.
7. After every pass, set an away screen.
8. After every pass, move. If they don’t catch & pivot, automatic turnover.

Now, this progression could easily take the whole season to go through if not next year too.

Every time, I would walk them through the progression without a defense. Then, I would add a defense and play 3 on 3 or 4 on 4.

Also, this DVD is perfect for this age group: http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/pr/bigelow-youth-right-way.html

  1 reply  

Craig says:
11/21/2014 at 6:37:35 PM

I disagree about the 9 and 10 year olds not being able to learn-or worse becoming robots, you just have to break it down into the smallest steps and then let them digest it in pieces before putting everything together.

We have run successful AAU programs for 10 and Under through 18 and Under with the same fundamental offenses and defenses. They are capable, you just have to teach differently and start slow.

As for the offense, I would incorporate a few screens to free up younger players that have a hard time penatrating.

For zone, we use this offense and then post up the weekside baseline, with a flash to the open post. Then rotate them back to baseline. The cuts are less effective against a zone defense so you have to teach the kids to look for open space and pausing long enough to get a pass.

Anyway, that is my two cents

  1 reply  

Kevin says:
1/12/2015 at 12:47:13 PM

I'd love to hear how you set up your program as far as offenses for younger kids. I'm having a hard time with this. I have one kid dribbling all over the floor, one kid who just wants to launch 3s, and 3 other kids who either don't move or they come right next to the ball handler and ask for the ball. These are 8 year olds for reference.

  1 person liked this.  

Coach Roberts says:
6/10/2010 at 7:35:16 PM

Thanks, Joe, for the wise advice. I wrote this late last night after a headache-inducing practice. Our team has won four out of seven games this season. The four games we won we won by thirty or more. The ones we lost were by large amounts also. The disparity of talent at this age is amazing.

What are your thoughts on putting together a video of some younger kids running the 5-out cutters. It would be far more powerful than attempting to teach them individually or as a group. They could watch the video over and over and over until they get the sequencing, spacing, etc.

I have added a post-up cut for my 5. He's really tall and athletic, and it could be that he scores most of our points. I'm a bit of a purist in that I want all the kids to have a good experience, but I'm starting to realize how little control I have over that.

Thanks again for the tips!


Joe Haefner says:
6/11/2010 at 9:03:55 AM

Coach Roberts, that Bigelow DVD I posted above has a little on teaching offense to a youth team. We are also developing some more DVDs that go more in-depth on teaching offense among many other things to beginners and advanced youth players.

The Cutters DVD is a good idea. However, I wouldn't fixate on it too much with a youth team. Even though, it is going to be ugly at first, I like to teach them the motion.

Be careful about getting them to watch a DVD over and over again. I know you want what is best for the kids, but from my experience, kids dislike watching instructional DVDs and we don't want them to get the same feelings towards basketball. I loved basketball and even when I was in high school, I still didn't enjoy watching DVDs. Now, I average about 5 a week.

And don't worry about the wins and losses. This usually affects parents more than it does the kids. Ten minutes after the game is over, the kids are more concerned with where they can eat some pizza.

Usually the coaches who teach the right things take bumps and bruises all the way thorugh the 6th grade level. From feedback, this seems to be the age that they start to really turn things on from years of doing things the right away. Sometimes, it's 6th grade. Sometimes, it's 7th grade. Sometimes, it's not until they reach high school. I know a coach who took bumps and bruises along the way and ended up 43-0 record their 8th grade year. He coached a smaller, private school team and now they have 8 of 10 players who made the teams at the local Kansas City high school which is a pretty big deal. You're usually lucky if you can have 1 or 2 kids make the team in the KC area.


Reggie Smith says:
12/29/2010 at 10:06:25 AM

I like the idea of getting everyone involved especially if you have 5 athletic players on the court. I coach M.S. girls basketball (grades 7,8). I'm a little concerned that if any of the cuts aren't open, it'll just become a passing game. I've seen this in some of the other motion offenses I've run, especially against zones. I have to call time out and tell my girls that the object of the game is to score! :) I've coached boys & girls and I find girls at this age don't seem to attack the basket as much as boys and they sometimes over-pass (at least the girls teams I've had).


C. Turner says:
8/29/2011 at 1:30:36 AM

I will be implementing this open post offense this year for my freshman group. We simply do not have a post player. Question however is what do you teach in terms of how player relocate when there is penetration? Any help would be great.


Joe Haefner says:
8/29/2011 at 12:38:26 PM

That's a good question, C.

There are different things you can do. Some teach circle movement. If a player dribbles to the right, all of the players rotate one spot to the right.

Since I want my players to get smarter, I tell them to fill a spot. Sometimes, they won't even have to move to find an open spot. Sometimes, you will drive and they will have to move. Don Kelbick told me that he likes to take his offense through situations and show them where the defense might come from and let them decide where they should go.

Here are some concepts that I will teach: http://www.hoopsplaybook.ca/tactics/5-out_youth_drive_and_kick.html


9/22/2011 at 10:06:31 AM

Can this open post offense be used against all zone defenses? Thank you.

Robert Capen
7th Grade CYO Boys Coach
Bayside, New York


Jeff Haefner says:
9/22/2011 at 2:26:45 PM

Yes, it can. However you''ll want to make adjustments to use banana cuts, finding gaps, stopping to post up, etc.


Curious Coach says:
11/21/2011 at 2:40:08 AM

Our head coach (I assist) plans to run this offense for a fifth grade B team with the attendant range of skill levels. However, I'm struggling with a few issues, and would appreciate any feedback or ideas from others that have implemented it successfully with this age group.

We tried to implement this offense last year with a 4B team, but I don't think it translated well and we scored most of our points off of fast breaks, perimeter shots and free-form penetrations.

Initially, it was a challenge to get the kids set up in the 5 spots and then to hold position with any consistency. The boys had a tendency to move towards the paint, and if one player wanders (assuming you get set up to begin with), this offense seemed to really break down. A lack of so-called player discipline, which is a huge issue with younger kids, seems to be a problem with this and other more structured offenses. However, in my view the struggle with coaching many young players is developing some aggressiveness (the "on-court observers"), so I would rather trade structure for developing some scoring instincts. How are other coaches dealing with this in the context of the 5 out motion offense?

The other problem I have is putting 2 players along the baseline, essentially as placeholders in the corner, since they are too far out to take a quality shot if you do push the ball to them. These are also the first spots to fill on transition for the kids that listen, but it has seemed like asking them to run to a spot effectively takes them out of the play/game. Other kids avoid the corner spots like the plague since they recognize very quickly that the ball does not come to the corner player very often and that the spacing/placement tends to break down in any case after the initial pass or penetration.

The final issue is rebounding. We tell the kids to stay in their spots and hold the perimeter but then tell them to crash the boards as soon as we take a shot. Its confusing for them. Our offensive rebounding out of this offense was horrible last year. The problem was that the players have a lot of ground to cover to get to the hoop and its easy to box them out. We also got trapped as we were slow to the rebound and then out of position for the fast break coming back at us.

Recognizing that this is a B team of 10 and 11 year olds, do people think this offense is simply too much to expect and that it would be better off focusing on basket cuts and simpler give and go plays that are "read" based? Any ideas on how to get the baseline players more involved and to improve rebounding and transitioning to defense if you stay with this offense?



Joe Haefner says:
11/28/2011 at 3:04:54 PM

For 4th and 5th graders, it will be difficult for them to run this offense exactly as demonstrated above. I like to teach the players spots, how to spread out, and offensive concepts. If you can teach them to pass and cut, then go backdoor when overplayed, you'll be ahead of the game.

If you would like to place some players in the post, I say go for it. However, be careful, because if players are just stuck in the post area, they never develop ball handling skills, and don't develop into well-rounded players. That's the reason I like the 5-out.

But as I'm sure you already figured out, getting them to dribble, pass, and maintain body control (footwork) among other things is enough by itself.

It sounds like you're on the right path.


allen says:
12/4/2011 at 9:44:25 AM

what is the best defense to play against a team that runs this offense?


Tom says:
12/15/2011 at 12:53:59 PM

I'm a rookie coach, so forgive my ignorance. After a pass, on the basket cut is it best for the passer/cutter to cut along the ball-side of his defender or the other side? I'm coaching 6th grade boys if that makes a difference.

And thanks for the great website.


Ken Sartini says:
12/15/2011 at 2:54:27 PM


Welcome to the greatest game in the world... we all start somewhere so don't worry about too many things. Teach fundamentals as best you can and please teach them how to play m2m defense.

As for the cut... A passes to B on the wing... and A makes a V cut and tries to cross the face of his defender as he makes the cut to the basket.. make sure he is looking for a return pass.

Hope this helps.


Joe Haefner says:
12/16/2011 at 9:39:03 AM

Tom, depending on the coach you ask, you might get two different options.

Some coaches teach their players to always try to face cut because they swear they get more lay ups out of it. That meas that the offensive player will pass, then fake in the opposite direction, then cut in front of the defender's face towards the basket.

Some coaches will teach two cuts. One is the face cut mentioned above. You use that when the defender does not move on the pass. The second would be a rear cut. This is done when the defender jumps to the new defensive position "on the line. up the line." This makes it difficult to face cut. So rather than trying to get in front of the defender, the offensive player just cuts straight to the basket.


Mike says:
2/8/2012 at 6:52:32 AM


I'll be coaching a 14u AAU team this year. Do you find this offense effective at this level? We ran the flex last year on my 13u team and it was effective, but we'll have several skilled guards this year and I wanted to add a spread offense to take advantage of their skills. Are there any other spread offenses you'd recommend? Thanks.


Ken says:
2/8/2012 at 7:48:47 AM

Mike -

We ran an Open Post Offense at the high school level... our main rule was DON 'T FIGHT PRESSURE, back door and go all the way to the rim.
We ran our set a little higher so we could get more back door looks - to each his own on this.

We reversed the ball a few times to break down the defense, then we were looking for cutters
( which we would take off the first pass if he was open) getting open going to the basket... TAKES from the wing if the help D broke down (and from the top if everyone was in a denial position) and 3s when they got lazy and didn't cover us well.

You can do a search for Open Post Double Up Offense


Joe Haefner says:
2/8/2012 at 9:20:49 AM

Mike, I think you would definitely find it effective with the right personnel. St. John's used it at the college level to beat Duke last year.

I like to use the 5-out and teach the basic pass and cut, pass and screen away, then let them just go motion where they pick what they are going to do.

I will also have a few sets to counter defenses like high pick and rolls and flare screens to counter sagging defenses.

If a player ever has an advantage in the post, I will allow them go to the post or post for 2 seconds after the cut.


Stephen Woodland says:
4/2/2012 at 7:46:42 AM

I have run this offense with a variety of underage groups fro nearly 20 years with good success at all age group levels and with boys and girls. It teaches kids to move without the basketball, to look to score first through square up and rip through when they catch the ball. Above all it teaches timing, decision making and can be used as the basis for any terminal plays. It demands good spacing and good cutting techniques.


Stefan Harnesk says:
6/5/2012 at 4:06:36 PM

What about off-ball movement on dribble penetration ?


Joe Haefner says:
6/20/2012 at 9:28:48 AM

Hi Stefan,

That is a great question and you will probably get 10 different answers if you ask 10 different coaches.

If I were you, I'd do some research and figure out what works best for you.

You can tell them to "find the open spot." Sometimes, they won't even have to move.

If the player is on the perimeter, it could be a backdoor cut. Sometimes, it could be a slide to the top of the key, the wing, or the corner.

If a player is in the post, you can have the post player flash high when the player dribbles baseline. When the player drives middle, you might have them slide to the short corner.

After you figure out movements for certain situations, you can break down that drill into a shooting drill to get player's repetitions in that situation.


Ken says:
6/20/2012 at 12:53:49 PM

You can tell them to "find the open spot." Sometimes, they won't even have to move.

This is a great suggestion. Here is something I picked up from a College coach, especially vs zones but it can work against m2m also.

Very simple suggestion... he said " Coach, this isn't rocket science stuff, PUT EM WHERE THEY AINT.

Make sure your players get into passing lanes, plain and simple. IF they cant see you, they cant pass you the ball.


Carl says:
8/26/2012 at 7:08:51 PM

After a cut, is it beneficial to back screen for a corner player? Is tis effective, or does it clog the lane?


Jeff Haefner says:
8/27/2012 at 8:33:33 AM

Carlo - You can try it but my guess is that it would clog up the lane and throw off the timing of the next cuts.


Aaron says:
11/26/2012 at 3:48:04 PM

I am a new coach and looking at using this offense for my 5th graders. How do I assign positions for this?


Ken says:
11/26/2012 at 8:26:47 PM

Aaron -

The important thing (and good thing) is that you are going to have to teach everyone the same skills... ball handling, reading the defense, passing, cutting and filling the open spots.

We ran something similar to this at the Varsity level and (of course its a little easier for them) but they ALL had to learn the above skills. You will just be doing this at a very basic level.

This offense should give every player touches and a chance to take the ball to the basket, read the defense and get open shots. As for us, we looked for the back door stuff all the time..... and the wings always had an opportunity for takes.

Good luck, this is a tough age group to teach any offense to. KISS method early and be patient.


Kevin says:
12/14/2012 at 9:13:29 AM

How will this offense work against a good "sag and help" man to man defense at the 3rd/4th grade level? My older son has played for a number of years and was always taught at that age to sag on someone at the 3 point line because at that age they can't make that shot. If the person guarding the point is at the free throw line and the other 4 players are sagging w/ one foot in the lane, how is this offense going to create good, open shots inside of 15 feet?

  1 person liked this.  

Ken says:
12/14/2012 at 9:30:49 AM

Patience is the key here...... almost every team / player is going to make mistakes here and there... those are the opportunities where you can score.

Hubie Brown calls this the "Human Factor." It happens on every level, even the pros. Just run your offense until you get the shot you want.

Not sure who said this ( I know I used this all the time ) "The hardest teams to defend are the ones that reverse the ball."


Joe Haefner says:
12/14/2012 at 11:02:30 AM

I thought I just posted something and I think it disappeared... who runs this site... lol.

Kevin, a good sagging defense will make this offense more difficult to run. That's what a lot of teams did against the high school team that I played for. However, it didn't work that great because we had some kids who could shoot and drive, so they mostly zoned us.

However, at the 3rd and 4th grade level, I haven't seen a man defense that won't break down after 2 to 3 passes. So like Ken said, as long as you're patient, things will turn out.

Try some of these things in your scrimmages:
- No dribble
- No jump shots until after 10 passes.

When kids start to reach 5th and 6th grade, I will start to introduce pass and screen away concepts. This will help a little against that type of defense.

For high school age kids and advanced middle school teams, I will also incorporate flare screens and ball screens to counter this. This tends to help me the most. However, if you're working on flare screens with 3rd and 4th graders, you might be jumping ahead too quickly and working on stuff that won't benefit them as much over the long haul.

For younger kids, ball screens can be a great counter. Take the offensive player of the kids sagging in the lane and set a ball screen. It could be a very simple play that you run a few times a game.


J says:
12/14/2012 at 2:16:26 PM

This offense if you teach it the way Huggins does you have no problem at all taking advantage of sagging defense. We have ran it for five years and gone 115-38 so I believe it works. After passing players may cut to the goal, screen away, or cut to the ball. If teams sag the cut to the ball acts like a pick and roll with a euro cut for the replace on the wing.


Dave says:
12/19/2012 at 2:46:32 PM

I'm thinking of trying this with the 5th grade travel team. I'm going to review it at practice and see how it goes. I have two main concerns:

* If you have the ball, it looks like your only two options are to pass to a player adjacent to you, or to drive to the basket (?). I'm not sure my guys will always be able to get the pass off, and they're not all good enough slashers that I want them taking it to the hole if they can't get a pass off. What do you suggest to do if they're having a hard time getting a pass off?

* This might not let me utilize my best scorers. I have one or two guys that can really create their own shot, and I want to maximize their scoring opportunities.

- Dave


Dave says:
12/19/2012 at 3:02:04 PM

To add to my comments above, I'm also wondering if and how you could work in some ball screens.


Joe Haefner says:
12/19/2012 at 4:34:08 PM

Thank you for your questions, Dave.

To help kids learn how to create space utilizing their pivots and ball rips, I really like this drill:

After that, you can play some 3v3, 4v4, or 5v5 with no dribble. That really forces them to work on their footwork and passing. I practice this drill in both the half court and full court.

I think if you have one or two guys that are good scorers, this offense would work great. At least, it did with my good scorers. My good dribble penetrators were very good at timing the basket cut of the other player's and penetrating shortly after.

A couple of reservations...

1. If you are looking to have this offense look good within a practice or two... you're doomed. This will take weeks and possibly an entire season... especially with a 5th grade group. However, I still highly recommend it because it takes the kids how to play and move without the ball. A Nike youth program in the town that I live in uses this as the foundation for all of their youth teams.

2. Maximizing the scoring opportunities for your two best players. I get this mentality because I've done it before. However, you need to be careful that you don't do this just to win games and that you maximize everybody's experience. You want everybody touching the ball and improving. Otherwise, you just get one or two players that are dominating the ball and the rest of the players don't gain as much from the season as they should have. Not to mention, this will help everybody down the road including the two better players because they learn how to play team ball and their teammates will be better which will result in the teammates pushing each other to higher levels.

When I teach offense to youth teams, I start with this as the foundation, then I progress to:
- Pass and screen away
- Reacting to dribble penetration.
- Ball screens

Typically, I like to have sets for the ball screens that are very simple.

When I teach the 5-out motion, I give them a few simple rules, then I let them play.


Joe Haefner says:
12/19/2012 at 4:36:34 PM

Here are some other helpful articles and forum discussions:





Dave says:
12/19/2012 at 6:50:45 PM

And another thing - what are the options for the "cutter" when they receive the pass and can''t get the shot off? Dribble out? Pass to the perimeter? This needs some rules about those scenarios (how to fill when cutter passes out, etc...)


Joe Haefner says:
12/19/2012 at 7:21:38 PM

Dave, I would just tell the perimeter players to find an open spot. If they don't get an open shot off of it, they can always reset via dribble or pass.

If there are 4 players on one side and 1 on the other, just keep running the offense and things will eventually balance out.

Also, be careful about having too many rules. With teams that I've coached, they've thrived off of simplicity rather than complexity.

With too many rules at this age, a couple of things can happen...

1. Analysis paralysis - so much information they don't know what to do and they just freeze.

2. Robots - they just run patterns and follow rules rather than playing basketball.

I would also remind them that the goal of offense is to score. Toss the rules out the window if a scoring opportunity presents itself.


Ken says:
12/19/2012 at 9:29:57 PM

We ran an Open Post Offense (Double Up) at the Varsity High school level... we really only had two cuts and one special off of this called the counter.

After they learned the two cuts I let them play basketball.... the only rule was to BALANCE the FLOOR.

Sometimes I had to tell them during games and other times they would find themselves with another player, they would just look for the open spot and go to it.

Typically IF a player received a pass cutting to the basket he was going to take it to the basket and shoot it. IF a HELP DEFENDER showed up, the person he was covering made a back door cut for a lay up.


Dave Taliaferro says:
12/21/2012 at 6:15:00 AM

Thanks for e replies, guys!

Well, I ran it with my boys for over an hour at our last practice, and it went pretty well. We are playing a fairly weak team this weekend, so we will try it and see how it goes.

Joe - first of all, I can see how you'd get that impression, but I am not at all that guy who just wants my best guys to have the ball. I play everyone equally, and it costs us some games, but so be it. My top players are my biggest scorers, but I've also taught them to be very unselfish with the ball, and they are. That said, only a couple of my guys can create their own shot, and they do tend to touch the ball more, and take more shots than, the other players. This is pretty normal, I think.

What I love about this cutters offense is is that it provides a framework to make sure the boys always stay spaced. I've been working with them to maintain a spaced 5 out formation for over a year, but they still tend to bunch up and also spend way more time inside the 3 point arc than I'd like. This gets them to stay outside and spread.

But it does seem a little stagnant - if you don't have the ball and aren't cutting, you just stand still. Shouldn't there be a little more motion?

I'd also appreciate any suggestions as to how to play against a zone with this. Zones aren't actually allowed in our league, but when you set the guys up like you do in the cutters offense, the defense can sag off a bit and it starts to look a lot like a 3-2 zone. One team in particular that we play against does this, and it can get very hard to penetrate. And I don't really like my guys jacking up 3s, so the defense can really collapse on us. My only thought is that we could try to "drive and ditch" but I'd really appreciate any other suggestions.


- Dave


Ken says:
12/21/2012 at 12:08:29 PM

Dave -

One thing you can do is to have the back side exchange jut to keep the D busy and NOT sagging and losing eye contact with their players.

One thing I told our players was this ... IF you are standing still for more than 2 seconds you are doing something wrong... you can cut and replace, you can exchange... just do something to engage the D. IF you are standing still you are pretty easy to cover - IF you play full speed all the time, you are also easy to cover.


Ken says:
12/21/2012 at 12:10:18 PM

By the way, driving and kicking it out is also good.... when you drive IF the help side comes over, that player should cut to the basket for a dump off and a layup.


Dave says:
1/14/2013 at 7:59:34 AM

We are a few practices and games into this, and it's starting to look pretty good. Another question: what do you recommend I have the boys do if the defense sags off? When my players are all on the perimeter and the defenders sag off, they can be pretty effective at cutting off the passing lanes, and at denying cutters from getting open shots when they get the pass.

I have a game film on YouTube - if anyone is interested in seeing what I mean, I can send you the link. Just send me an email at dpt (at) eliassen.com.


Ken Sartini says:
1/14/2013 at 9:30:24 AM


While patience is the key for any offense, its even more critical vs zones.

A wise college coach once told me, Ken, its not rocket science, put em where they aint! So, tell your kids to get into passing lanes.

We ran something similar to this, only we set it higher. Ok, I think I would have my players attack a gap and kick it out.... you are going to have to hit a few outside shots to make them honest.... Maybe utilize the short corner with the middle cutter?

Once you get a lead you can become very selective shot wise... they can sag all they want then.... force them to play tougher.


Joe Haefner says:
1/14/2013 at 11:59:07 AM

Dave, I like to incorporate screens into the offense to counter this.

You could try a couple of ball screens. If the defense stays back, the pick and roll will be wide open.

Another option would be to pass and screen away.

You could incorporate some flare screens if your players advanced enough.


Dave says:
1/15/2013 at 12:17:00 PM

Joe - I can't picture what you mean. How is it that the pick and roll is wide open if the defense is hanging back? What we see is that the defense is packed in the paint, or close to it, so even if the ball or the roller get free of their man, there is help defense there to stop them.


Joe says:
1/15/2013 at 1:04:13 PM

Dave, that's what I have done against sagging man-to-man defenses. But if all five players are sitting in the lane, it be harder to take advantage of the pick and roll like you stated.

Can any of your players hit a 10-foot jump shot? If not, you're going to have trouble no matter what kind offense you run.

In order to break that defense, you're going to need a lot of ball movement side to side and patience. I'm talking 15 to 30 second possessions of player movement and ball movement.

If you face this situation, you could also make an exception to the rules above. If you catch the ball at the top, you do not have to watch the cutter to the basket, you can swing the ball to the opposite wing. This will get the ball moving a little bit more. If you end up with two players cutting at the same time, it's not a big deal and it could actually preoccupy help defense and open up driving lanes.


Dave says:
1/15/2013 at 4:38:54 PM

Thanks Joe. Not all the defense packs the lane, but one or two players seem to a lot of the time. Yes, I can trust at least half of my guys to shoot a 10 foot jumper reliably enough that it's ok to do. So maybe an away pick and pop, and pass to the popper for the jump shot.

I have been telling them to watch the cutter through. They weren't doing that at first, and we'd get multiple cutters at once and the whole thing would fall apart. Maybe once they've really gotten this offense down cold we'll be able to relax that rule.

FYI - the "check this box to receive an email notification" thing below isn't working for me. I check the box, but haven't been getting emailed about any of the replies in this discussion.


Ken Sartini says:
1/15/2013 at 4:44:09 PM

Dave -

I wouldn't worry too much about them losing floor balance... I had Varsity boys mess it up from time to time... I told them to just look for the open spot on the floor and get there.

Trust me, once they understand the offense, you can sit back and watch them play, just like I did. Yeah right LOL But it is fun to watch them run this, its hard to scout because of your reasons... two cutters... but they get back... and if your kids keep moving, its a bear to DEFEND.

I set our offense up with everyone above the free throw line... we loved the back door stuff it gave us.... not sure I would advise that for your kids.


Coach Bill says:
9/26/2013 at 4:43:45 PM


Can you please tell me what defense is best against this offense


Jeff Haefner says:
9/26/2013 at 5:47:07 PM

Coach Bill - I don't think it matters WHAT defense you run, it's HOW you run it. Whether you play zone, man, match up, or junk D... if your play fundamentally sound defense, that is your best bet.

I will say this offense is tough to guard because it really spreads things out. But that is assuming the offensive players can shoot from the outside, drive, and handle the ball.

Fundamentally sound defense is about all you can do against this offense -- you want good help position, don't follow cutters away from the ball, tough on ball defense, great close outs, early help and quick recovery, etc. Again, it's not WHAT you run, it's HOW you run it.


Ken Sartini says:
9/27/2013 at 8:42:36 AM

Coach -

I agree with Jeff, the defense has to be fundamentally sound. Great help defense is important for any D, but against the spread. it is really important.

The D better be as patient as the offense is here..... the idea of that offense, or any offense for that matter is to break the D down, once that happens, you get scoring opportunities.

Teams can typically play good D for 5-6 passes, what happens after that? Some players will get lazy and the D will break down. So, this becomes "who is more disciplined? The O or the D !

Like Jeff said - "Again, it's not WHAT you run, it's HOW you run it."


Mike says:
10/16/2013 at 12:18:35 PM

I have seen some comments about what to do if the point is having trouble making the pass to the wing. Besides looking to penetrate, could you also work in dribble handoff action to either wing? Then the wing can either look to penetrate or reset as the point.

I might be coaching a 4th grade girls travel team this season and I like the open court style that the 5 out motion and the dribble drive motion presents. I used a 4 out set last year with my rec team that had some very athletic girls and we went undefeated.

I thought the dribble handoff solved a lot of problems we had with the initial entry pass to the wing.


John M says:
11/7/2013 at 11:49:36 AM


I am a 1st year coach with 5-6 grade girls in a semi-rec/competitive league (NJB). The biggest challenge I saw in this league last year was passing - all aspect of it: a non-ball handler getting open, the ball handler seeing the player either get open anticipate them being open, the ball handler making the pass, the receiver catching the pass.

60% of the possessions ended in a turnover in one of the first few passes (ie. getting a play going) another 20% ended in turnovers in the scrum that followed play initiation..only 20% of the times did the kids get off a shot.

Let's start with the ball handler: She won't be a master dribbler, so 90% of the time, once she crosses half court, she will have someone rather close to her...effectively blocking the passing lane.

The non-ball handler will have a defensive player stuck to them like glue...because it's easy to tell a girl to "go stay on that girl." That means the offensive player has a shadow...meaning she is NEVER open unless the defender loses track of her assignment. But since the the offensive player loses her defender by running around randomly, the ball handler has no idea where her teammate is, or where she is going.

Both of these inevitabilities seem to indicate the ONLY way to get an offense working with these girls is to set picks. Yet, this offense does not talk about using picks to get open. At this age, their bodies just don't have the acceleration and redirection capabilities to create space between them and their defenders...and even if they did, the passers don't have enough experience to understand how to anticipate when her teammate is going to get open.

How do I help them run this offense in a way that won't frustrate them by having the ball get stolen 60%+ of the time?



Joe Haefner says:
11/7/2013 at 12:51:00 PM

John, I would advise to play 3 on 3 if the girls are not athletic enough or skilled enough to run this offense.

When I was faced with this same situation 10 years ago, I started my own league. My brother currently has a 3rd grade daughter and they've been playing 3 on 3 half court basketball for the same reasons you mention above.

That way, you can work on athletic and basketball skill development to empower your players to run an offense or something similar to this.

However, that may not be a feasible option.

I've had success teaching these offensive concepts to 5th and 6th grade teams. At our camps, we teach the same concepts to kids as young as 2nd grade. So I know that you can do it.

It's very difficult to give advice on this without seeing the team play, so I'm going to start with a few questions.

1. How long have you been coaching these girls? With an advanced group of 8th grade boys, it took me 6 to 8 weeks of practices and game play to start looking like an offense. Remember, to keep the end in mind and don't get frustrated if it doesn't look like much at first. A group of unskilled 5th and 6th grade girls will take longer.

In fact, it doesn't matter what offense you run if the girls aren't skilled and athletic. All of the offenses will fail. Unless, you just abandon teaching offense, give the ball to your best player, set picks her, and just let her go. I see this a lot in youth basketball and I would never advise to do this as this may help in the IMMEDIATE short-term, it will hurt everybody in the long run.

2. How do you teach the girls to get open? What are your rules for getting open?

What do you tell them if they are overplayed?

3. Do you run skill development drills that also work on the offense at the same time?

4. Have you tried any entries such as setting a ball screen? Or setting down screens or back screens on the wing?


Jeff says:
1/28/2014 at 4:51:10 PM

I stumbled upon this page while searching for ideas for my 4th grade boys rec team who are ready to go beyond the basic ball screens, pick/rolls, and give/gos that we were running.

I introduced the boys to the 5 Out with suggestions from your comment above: "Here is a sample 3on3 progression to get them started".

We practiced it just twice, then executed it in a game for the first time Saturday against a decent team.


Ok, so our opponent was over-committing defensively, but our cuts and passes really looked good. Our offense was much less chaotic, and the kids really enjoyed it.

I had to implement a 5-pass rule to slow down our scoring, but that made us look even better. Parents talked about it after the game. There were lots of "ohhh!" plays.

I can't wait to incorporate more layers to this scheme over the remaining weeks, and next season.


Jeff says:
2/18/2015 at 10:24:51 PM

Is this different from the Read and React Offense?

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
2/19/2015 at 6:48:08 AM

Yes and no. The Read and React uses a 5 out pass and cut offense as their base layer. That base layer is very similar to this offense that has been around for years. However the more advanced layers of the R&R are different. With the offense above you go a lot of different directions...
- stick with cutting and driving (keep it simple)
- go the R&R route with their layers
- add screen away option/layer
- add post up options/layers
- add ball screen options/layers
- add back screen options/layers
- add dribble drive options/layers

The 5 out cutting is a very flexible offense that gives you a great foundation to continue using forever or use as a base to build on.


Jeffrey says:
12/29/2015 at 1:10:34 AM

4th/5th Grade Girls

Would you suggest they start out inside the 3pt line?

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
12/29/2015 at 12:59:15 PM

With our 3rd-5th graders, we tell them to use the 3pt line for spacing... basically stand on top of it. None of them can shoot that far out but it opens things up for dribble drive, post ups, back cuts, etc.


Bill says:
1/11/2016 at 10:10:13 PM

Who was the coach at Cedar Rapids Prairie that won the Iowa state championship using this offense?

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
1/12/2016 at 8:45:52 AM

Denny Thiessen


george says:
2/23/2016 at 9:20:44 AM

do you have to repeat the step over and over again when you basket cut?

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
2/23/2016 at 9:35:33 AM

Not completely sure what you mean. If you are one pass away and covered, look to back cut. If you are one pass away and the defense sags, stay there or pop out to receive the pass.

In any offense you want spacing, ball movement, and player movement. So cutting and movement definitely repeats.


Chris says:
11/6/2016 at 10:29:00 AM

Hey guys!

I''m just a parent who volunteered to coach my sons13-15 yr old Rec team because no one else would. Being a new and unexperienced coach, I came to this website looking for advice on a simple yet effective offense to teach them. We only have 7 one hour practices before games begin (ridiculous I know.) Would you recommend this offense in the short amount of time I have? Would just the basic form be enough to get me started? Also, how would you advise I teach it to them with the limited amount of time I have? Thanks in advance and this is a fantastic site for new coaches!

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
11/7/2016 at 10:16:07 AM

Yes, great offense if you have limited time or if you have plenty of time. Easy to teach and effective.

As long as you keep players spaced, work on skills, and get them attacking with the dribble when there are lanes... yes this very basic offense is more than enough to get your started.

Probably the simplest and most effective way to teach is with 5v0 and then play. Often times we play half court and give rules to get what we want. Examples include:
- lay ups only until 5 passes
- no dribbling
- 3 points for offensive rebounds

Here are a couple drills:


Jenny Fern says:
1/23/2019 at 10:21:24 PM

This play is not cutter. What you are demonstrating is spread


Greg Miller says:
5/28/2019 at 6:47:38 PM

This looks like Read and React by Rick Torbett. Is there a story here?

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
5/29/2019 at 9:25:05 AM

Yes, Greg. There is a story. I first learned of the cutters offense in 1997 watching Cedar Rapids Prairie win the Iowa boys high school state championship. CR Prairie was coached by Denny Thiesen.

I was also playing HS basketball at the same time. And my coach admired the offense so much that I played in the system for 3 years.

And as a coach for the past 15 years, I've used this as the first step when teaching offense to youth and high school players.

I'm quite sure this offense was around long before I learned of it. The only thing new is the products created and the way people name, package, and market the products.


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