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.


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

    Player 1 Cuts and fills the opposite baseline spot.

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

    Player 3 replaces Player 1.

    Player 5 replaces Player 3.
  3. Cut Only When You Pass The Ball or when the player with the ball is looking at you.

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

  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.

It is very important to keep spacing for dribble penetration and cutters.

  1. Players 2 & 3 should be near the free throw line extended.
  2. Players 4 & 5 should be in the corners.

  1. Player 1 passes the ball to Player 2 on the wing.
  2. After the pass, Player 1 basket cuts straight to the rim. Then, fills the spot in the opposite corner.
  3. Player 3 fills the spot on the top of the key.
  4. Player 5 fills the wing.

  1. The defender guarding Player 3 pressures the pass and steps to the 3-point line.
  2. Player 3 back cuts. Player 2 looks to pass the ball if Player 3 is open.
  3. Player 3 fills the open spot along the baseline.
  4. Player 5 fills the top of the key.
  5. Player 1 fills the wing.

  1. Player 2 passes the ball to Player 5.
  2. Player 2 basket cuts and replaces open spot along baseline.
  3. Player 4 fills the spot.

  1. The pass is not open, so Player 4 back cuts.

  1. After Player 4 cleared the lane, Player 5 looks to the opposite wing at Player 1.
  2. Player 1 basket cuts
  3. Player 3 replaces.

  1. Player 5 passes to Player 3.
  2. Player 5 basket cuts.
  3. Players 2 & 4 fill the open spots.
  4. Remember, Players 2 & 4 should not replace as soon as Player 5 basket cuts. They want to pause until Player 5 has almost reached the basket to ensure proper timing.

  1. Player 5 clears the lane.
  2. Player 3 dribble penetrates.
  3. Penetration is cut off. Player 3 kicks it out to Player 1 in the corner.

  1. Player 1 dribbles towards the wing to create floor balance.
  2. As Player 1 dribbles to the wing, Player 2 back cuts.
  3. Player 1 passes to Player 2 for a lay up.

Other Situations:

Pass To Corner
  1. Defender packs down near the lane in the corner to help on penetration and basket cuts.
  2. 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
  1. Player 2 passes the ball to the corner to avoid the Player 5 second call and basket cuts.

  1. Player 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
  1. 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.
  2. Player 1 passes to Player 2. Player 1 basket cuts.
  3. Player 1 cuts over to the post area to hold the position for 2 seconds.
  4. Player 3 hesitates to fill the spot until the post starts to clear. If Player 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 5-Out Offense - Using Away Screens to Create Tons of Scoring Opportunities

The Billeter Rocket Offense with Ball Screens

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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Adam says:
3/14/2022 at 1:12:25 PM

So I am a high school student doing research on a five out offense being the best offense for middle schoolers. Would you say this is true? And if so why?

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
3/21/2022 at 10:41:11 AM

Great question, Adam. Ultimately, it's about teaching universal offensive concepts to youth players. You also want players to rotate between perimeter and post spots/positions on the floor. You don't want to stick a player near the basket and tell them to stay there. This will hinder their development.

I start my teaching from a 5-out offense. However, I don't think it needs to be that as long as players learn universal offensive concepts and can play all positions on the floor.

Quite often, we have possessions start in a 5-out and end in a 3-out.

Here are some articles that will cover these topics in more depth:




Mike Krawzsenek says:
4/1/2021 at 7:52:17 AM

Hi everyone,

Thank you for the information on this website. It is helpful. What is your experience on using this 5 out motion offense (cutters) against zone defenses such as 1-3-1, 2-3, and 3-2.

Thank you for any comments.


  1 reply  

Ayman says:
8/11/2022 at 8:29:38 AM

Hello, was there a response to this? I have the same question


Chris Jones says:
1/24/2020 at 1:30:03 PM

Started running this the other night with my team of 3rd-5th grade boys. Spent first part of practice with 3 v 0 pass-cut-replace but when we get to 5 v 5 it’s chaotic and difficult to discern if they are getting it. I have a 1 hr practice today where I am thinking of 5 v 0, I throw up a shot, rebounder passes to 1, then ALL players run to other side of court where I’ll have pieces of tape they go to, just to get the idea that when we rebound, point brings it up and they don’t have to clog up the backcourt. Anyone tried this or have other ideas?

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
1/25/2020 at 2:41:15 PM

Yea it's going to be chaotic with young kids first learning. Always is.

I have used tape and "spots before. I know some coaches do that. But I went away from that because I don't want players running to "spots".... I want them to learn spacing concepts.

Emphasizing and learning spacing and other basic fundamental concepts is something you do ALL season long. Coaching youth basketball is a marathon, not a sprint. It's a gradual progressions of learning each week... some weeks are better than others.

Generally, I run some 3v0, 4v0, or 5v0 to introduce concepts.... they we fairly quickly move to some type of game to do the real learning. The game might be half court 5v5, 4v4, or 3v3. The game might be lay ups only until two ball reversals. Might be 2 dribble limit or no dribbles allows playing 5v4. You can adjust the rules and environment to help kids start learning the concepts they are missing. The "no dribble" rule for example helps cut down on over dribbling and improve player movement, passing, spacing, ball protection, pivoting, and so on.


Craig says:
12/13/2019 at 9:46:54 AM

I am having trouble getting that initial pass open for my 6U team. I try to get them to make good V cuts but it doesn’t seem to work. Do I keep working in it, or do I get everything started with two screens away from the top?

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
1/25/2020 at 2:49:20 PM

I usually have players one pass away just cut when not open to get things going. I also sometimes instruct the PG to just drive. If the defense are just logged into their players, not letting you pass, there is space to drive and that is the best decision. Trying to force the first pass doesn't always work if teams are doing that and you need to drive to loosen up the defense.


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.


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