The High Powered Dribble Drive Motion Offense

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've probably heard about the NEW HIGH powered Dribble Drive Motion that is sweeping the basketball nation!!

So what's the scoop on this basketball offense?

In all honesty, it's just a fashionable new name for something that has been played for years. So don't go jumping on the band wagon (just yet)...

With that said, the Dribble Drive is a POWERFUL offense and you can probably learn something from it. But you need to understand what it's really all about.

Every few years a new variation on an old theme hits the college basketball world. This year it is the "Dribble-Drive Motion"!!

Where did it come from?

The nexus of the fascination has been the enormous success of John Calipari's University of Memphis team. Coach "Cal" is one of the most innovative coaches I have ever met and this offense fits his personnel like a glove. Vance Walberg, former Head Coach at Pepperdine and a speaker very much in demand is also an innovator and has brought this style back to the forefront of basketball thinkers. Though not credited, Jay Wright of Villanova used many of these concepts to take his four guard one post offense to great success in the Big East and the NCAA Tournament. The "Dribble-Drive" term hadn't been coined yet but Wright surely should be considered one of the innovators as well.

The roots of the Dribble-Drive Motion go back to the roots of the motion offense itself. Dean Smith, former coach at North Carolina, used the drive and kick aspect of his "passing game" with great success. It did not get great notoriety at the time because Smith coached much of his career without the 3-point shot. Rick Pitino used many of the concepts, beginning at Providence College with point guard Billy Donovan, and was at the forefront of effective use of the 3-point shot in college basketball. Pitino brought to his great Kentucky teams and while he doesn't use this motion at Louisville, he still incorporates many of the same concepts.

Just as an observation, both Coach Pitino and Coach Calipari used the 3-point shot to much greater effectiveness upon returning to the college game after years in the NBA. The NBA used the 3-point shot for several years before it was added to the college game. I think that their NBA experience sent them ahead of the pack in regard to using the 3 and the rest of us are still trying to catch up.

What is the Dribble Drive Motion Offense?

The Dribble-Drive Motion is first and foremost a motion offense, complete with its own discipline, rules and philosophy. The basic philosophy is the ballhandler tries to push the ball for a layup. If there is no help he continues for a layup. If there is help, he finds the open man for either a shot if on the perimeter or a dump-off to the post. Driving lanes are created by great spacing and constant hunting of open areas for kick-outs.

Personnel Needs

The Dribble-Drive is not for everyone. You need to have very specialized personnel. Your perimeter players must be equally adept at taking the ball to the basket and shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Your post players have to be comfortable catching the ball on the move. If he can shoot the ball a little, that will make you better. If he can put the ball on the floor, you'll have the whole package.

Athletic ability helps, as it does in most aspects of basketball. The Dribble Drive produces a lot of rebounds. If you are able to control the offensive glass, it is difficult for opponents to recover. You also have to be in great shape. The Dribble Drive, because of its aggressiveness tends to wear down its opponents.

The offense can start from any set. The one requirement is that the middle be open. If you are going to have a post player, he should be off the block, opposite the ballhandler and my preference is to put him on the baseline.

Here are some sample sets.....

2 Guard Front
5 Out Set

1-2-2 Set

2-2-1 Set

Below are some sample actions in the Dribble-Drive Motion. These are just examples. They are not meant to be the only actions of the offense. In fact, you might not like any of the actions. As with any motion offense, the only limitation is your imagination. If you are a coach who likes to control movement, this is not the offense for you.

For this offense to be effective, it has to be free-wheeling and active. Encourage your players to let go.

Here are some of the basic rules of the Dribble-Drive Motion. Some of the rules are notated in the diagrams. Remember, different coaches have different rules. It doesn't make them wrong and doesn't make it a different offense; it just makes them different than this one.

Perimeter Player Rules

  • Player with the ball first tries to penetrate, on the dribble. First choice is a layup.
  • Perimeter players step to openings, beyond the 3-point line, making passing angles and preparing for shot.
  • If penetrator meets defensive help, he kicks to the open man on the perimeter for a shot. If help comes from the post, he looks to dump to the post.
  • After passing, penetrator cuts out of the middle to an open spot beyond the 3 point line.
  • Player who receives the pass, if he has no shot, will attempt to dribble penetrate and repeats the process. He can also pass to reverse the ball and cut through the middle to clear it out for the next ball handler.
  • All cutters vacate the middle as soon as possible and find a spot beyond the 3-point line.
  • If player can't dribble penetrate take ball to middle for spacing
  • Ball goes to high post, open-side wing cuts backdoor. All players bump up to maintain spacing.
  • If the ball is dribbled at you, either go backdoor or take dribble handoff.

Post Player Rules

  • Post player set opposite the ball, off the lane.
  • Post player can ball screen on the open wing or high.
  • Post player looks to pop or roll after setting ball screen.
  • If ball stalls on top, weakside forward posts to the top.

Options off a 1-2-2 Set

1,2,3 - Guards

4,5 - Front Court

All players can shoot and are comfortable putting the ball on the floor.
Rule: Ballhandler penetrates and looks for layup. Weakside wing fills to top

1 penetrates and looks to score

3 creates passing angle to the top

1 throws pass back to the top to 3.

3 looks for shot

Rule: On pass off, passer clears to the open side.

1 cuts to the right

3 dribble penetrates and looks to score

2 creates passing angle to the top.

3 passes to 2 for shot.

3 clears to the left side

2 has no shot

2 dribble penetrates looking to score

3 creates passing angle to the top

1 spots up for shot

4 & 5 step in

2 can shoot, kick to 1 or 3, or dump off to 4 or 5

Next Rotation

1 dribble penetrates looking to score (following the rules)

3 spots up and creates passing angle back (following the rule)

1 kick to 3

Rule: If you can't dribble penetrate take ball to middle for spacing

1 clears to the side (following the rule)

3 dribble to middle (following the rule)

Rule: If ball stalls on top, weakside forward posts to the top.

5 posts to the top (following the rule)

3 passes to 5

Rule: Ball goes to high post, open-side wing cuts backdoor. All players bump up to maintain spacing.

2 goes backdoor (following the rule)

3 cuts to open wing (following the rule)

1 fills spot for 3 (following the rule)

5 looks backdoor to 2, kicks to 3 for shot

5 kicks to 1 for shot.

5 ball screens for 1

2 clears to corner

4 bumps ups

1 dribbles off screen looking to penetrate

3 spots up

1 kicks to 3 for shot.

1 clears to side (following the rule)

5 bumps up

4 bumps up

3 dribble penetrates and looks to score.

3 can kick to any of the perimeter players.

Options off a 2-2-1 Set

1,2 Guards

3,4 Forwards

5 Post

Rule: Ball is dribbled at you, either go backdoor or take dribble handoff.

1 dribbles at 2

2 goes backdoor (following the rule)

1 passes to 2 for layup.

1 does not pass to 2

2 clears to open side (following the rule)

3 spots up (following the rule)

4 spots up (following the rule)

1 dribble penetrates looking to score

1 shoots or kicks to 3 or 4, or dumps to 5

1 kicks out to 4

1 clears to open side (following the rule)

4 looks to dribble penetrate

1 spots up

3 spots up

4 can shoot, kick to 1, 2 or 3 or dump to 5

4 does not penetrate

4 dribbles at 3

3 goes backdoor (following the rule)

4 passes to 3 for score

3 can shoot, kick to 1 or 2 or dump to 5

4 does not pass to 3

3 clears to side

1 bumps up

4 tries to dribble penetrate

2 spots up

5 ducks in

4 looks to score, kick to 2 or dumps to 5

4 does not penetrate

4 continues his dribble and dribbles at 2

2 cuts at 4 and takes handoff (following the rule)

2 turns the corner and looks to penetrate

2 looks to score, kick to the perimeter or dumps to 5.

Dribble Drive Motion in Transition

In transition, players run the lanes.

1 handles the ball on the side

2 runs right lane

3 runs left lane

4 (first post) run middle, opposite the ball

5 (trailer) runs behind, opposite the ball

2 and 3 run to corner, outside the 3-point line.

4 runs to the baseline, outside the lane

1 dribbles up the floor

5 trails opposite

1 dribble penetrates, looking to score

1 can kick to 2 or 3 or dump to 4 for shots.

Rotation now runs as if it were a half court Dribble-Drive Motion.

If 1 cannot penetrate

1 "head-mans" to 2

1 cut through and comes out opposite

5 fills for 1 (following the rule)

3 bumps up for 5 (following the rule).

2 dribble penetrates looking to score

2 can kick to 1 or 3 or dump to 4

5 spots behind ball

2 kicks to 3 for shot.

If no shot, 3 dribble middle for spacing

1 bumps up for 3

2 comes out and replaces 1

5 spaces

3 passes to 1

4 cuts opposite the ball (following the rule)

1 looks to dribble penetrate to score

1 can kick to 5 or 3 for shot or dump to 4.

2 spots behind.

If 1 does not headman to 2

1 passes to 5

3 pops to wing

4 cuts opposite the ball (following the rule)

2 cuts to fill corner

1 spots to wing

5 spaces out

3 looks to dribble penetrate and look to score

3 can shoot, kick to 1, 2, 5 for shot or dump to 4.

Offense then proceeds as if it was a half court set.

I hope this give you a little insight into the en vogue offense of 2008, "The Dribble Dive Motion." This is not the be-all and end-all thesis on the offense, just my experience with it. A Motion Offense is a constantly changing and evolving entity. The more you play it, the more you will see. The only limitation is your imagination and the imagination of your players. Teach the concepts (penetration and kick, spot up, space the court), don't teach the offense and your team will handle every adjustment made against you.

If you have the players, it will certainly be an effective offense for you. If not, wait 'til next year and there will be a new "en vogue" offense that might fit your personnel.

To learn more about developing a high scoring motion offense, check out...

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


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Jeff says:
4/24/2017 at 9:20:11 AM

I respectfully disagree. I have used dribble drive type of offense with both high school and youth teams with only one decent shooter on the team.


f&ck says:
4/21/2017 at 5:02:04 AM

dribble drive is effective only if you have very very very quick ball handlers and 4 great shooters in the floor.


Ken Sartini says:
5/13/2014 at 5:08:32 PM

John -

Regardless of the offense of defense you want to run.... you have to teach your kids the fundamentals of the game. We worked on fundamentals every day ( I was the vasrity coach ) You have to correct the problems if you can, might not happen no matter how hard you work.

While we ARE stuck with who they drop off at the door , its up to us to teach them... sometimes it will work for you and other times, its not going to happen. They have to have some type of athleticism.

I for one do not like this offense, only because my talent level coulcn't make this work. We ran a Open Post offense and at times we could drive and look to kick it out or go to the hole. NOW< IF I had a great talent pool, I might have thought differently. JMO


John says:
5/13/2014 at 12:44:50 AM

I think this offense is optimal for teams with "talent," but in my opinion, what many coaches tend to overlook, at least at the high school level, is that talent can (and should) be developed. We often believe that we are stuck with the talent we are given, and we only have time for the x's and o's; "if players want to improve, they need to do it on their own time." This is backwards thinking. We get these kids for four years! This is an offense that would be effective for any program that places a high emphasis on skill development. It's a basketball system designed for basketball players. I like it.


Dy says:
3/5/2014 at 5:35:42 AM

This system fits the PH national team, a lot of small but talented players. It has also bring the PH team to the FIBA Worlds this year. The system creates unpredictable offense by attacking the basket by one of the perimeter guys and passing the ball if blocked by a defender.


Eric says:
1/14/2014 at 9:16:32 AM

I teach a scaled down version of this offense to my 7th grade team. As a lot of people have said it works really well with quick talented players who can shoot. But what offense doesnt? We are never the most talented team but by running this offense we have the ability to play fast or grind it out against good defenses. We get a lot of opportunities to go to the free throw line. The best part of the offense is it ability to teach players how to move without the ball. The constant moving, cutting and passing allows us to teach kids fundamental basketball while giving us the best opportunity to be competitive. I highly recommend giving this offense a try.


Bryan Baxa says:
9/18/2013 at 11:57:50 PM

I'm from the Philippines.

I really love dribble drive motion offense because it really suits to our type of play and to our size as Filipinos. I'm using it now on our Basketball Team, hope it works for us. Great Job, continue developing plays and modify it. GOD BLESS! :D


maurice says:
3/10/2012 at 5:16:27 PM

this is old school
this is not new
played this in the 80s with great success
the problem is the coaching when utilizing this
bruce enns tried to incorporate this while at ubc but he failed miserably
as with bruce enns, coaches tend to rely on 1 or 2 very athletic players to make this system look good.
but the rest of the team doesnt succeed. only the 1 0r 2
bruce enns never won a national championship while incorporating this system
altho he was and is a subpar coach, a more versatile coach with better grasp of team play would do well.


arash rahimi says:
2/13/2012 at 6:46:09 PM

Hey there . This is Arash Rahimi a current assistant coach . I severely need to have a clear and understandable definition for the Motion offense to let my players know .


Honestly says:
1/22/2012 at 10:00:36 PM

it promotes selfishness on and off the court! Beautiful basketball is meant to be derived from a team concept. Five players touching the ball each possession demomstrates team basketball!

  1 reply  

Unselfish says:
8/20/2022 at 11:18:54 PM

Absolutely not!

The only way this is selfish is if the guards who are penetrating are forcing shots. Players can force shots in any offense.

If I have three or four kids who can get to the basket, off the dribble, why would I not run something that highlights that ability?

It's no different that running a motion offense with kids who aren't great at getting to the basket but cut well and pass well.

I run this with a four out look, post player on opposite block.

Why would I take that true post player and move her outside, just to touch the ball?

Putting players in bad situation is not going to create beautiful basketball.

How on earth does this promote anything off the court, except understanding of one's talent, abilities and doing what is best for the team?

Actually, requiring all players to touch the ball on each possession is where the selfishness comes in.

That mentality is just a version of "everyone gets a trophy".

By the way, It is not uncommon for all five players to touch the ball before we score, but it's not forced and they do so in a situation that is best suited for them.

I've used it in a five out set up, too. The same is true.

  1 reply  

Info says:
8/22/2022 at 8:21:30 AM

Thank you for the feedback.


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