5 Out Motion Offense - Cutters

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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.

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  • 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

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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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.


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

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


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:


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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?


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?



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