How To Maximize Your Offense and Skill Development

In addition to improving your offense, I can guarantee you that the tips in this article will also help maximize your practice and improve the skill level of your players.

Improving the skill level of your players is great, because...

Better Players = Better Offense.

As a coach, we are always trying to maximize our practices. We are always trying to be as efficient as possible.

This little tip has helped us tremendously since we discovered it a few years ago. And if you ever visit the practices of the great teams, I can guarantee you will see it.

This tip is so easy that once you understand it, you'll think... "Duh. Why didn't I do that years ago?!?"

As a youth and high school coach, we are definitely limited on our practice time. Some of you only get 1 hour per week!! That means we have to be super efficient with our practices.

But how do you do that?

The answer is going to surprise you, because you're going to think this is relatively easy but I can almost guarantee that you may have been missing some of these tips in the past.

The answer is combine your offense and your skill work! Huh? That's it?

As a younger coach, I would always have a skill development session during practice and an offense session during practice. Not until a few years ago, I started to combine both and this has tremendously improved the quality of the players and the teams that I have coached.

Let me show you an example with the 5-out motion that I teach to some of my youth and high school teams in the first few practices.

Progression 1 - Pass and Cut

One of the first things that I teach to our players is simply how to pass and cut.

Here is what the drill looks like.

Player starts in triple threat with their eyes on the rim.

Player passes to coach on the wing.

Player fakes in opposite direction, then basket cuts.

Coach passes to the player for the lay up.

In the first step, you're practicing getting in a good offensive position to start the drill, you're practicing passing, you're practicing the proper footwork to cut to the basket, and you're working on finishing near the rim.

So now you're working all of these skills to become a better player while reinforcing a rule in your motion offense which is pass and move. And in this situation, the move was a cut.

You can also use assistants and players as passers, so you can separate to different baskets to ensure a high amount of repetitions for every player on your team.

Progression 2 - Add Second Player

The second part of this progression is the exact same at the first progression, except you have two players on the floor now.

Player starts in triple threat with their eyes on the rim.

Player passes to coach on the wing.

Player fakes in opposite direction, then basket cuts.

This time the coach doesn't pass the ball to the player. The player finishes the cut at the rim, pivots while keeping their eye on the passer, and cuts to open spot on perimeter. In this situation, it would be the left corner.

As the first player began the cut, the 2nd player takes two steps down towards the lane to simulate making contact with the defender. This helps with timing.

Then, the 2nd player cuts hard at full speed to the top of the key. Coach passes the ball to the player who turns and shoots. Player rebounds and they switch lines.

Once again, you're practicing all of the same things in the first progression, triple threat, passing, footwork, and cutting.

But now, you're working on another rule of your offense, whenever the offensive player with the ball is next to you and passes away from you, take two steps down into the lane to set up your man. Then, you're working on blasting to the ball, catching, pivoting, and shooting.

So once again, you're improving the skill level of your players while working on the situations in your motion offense! You're getting the best of both worlds.

Progression 3 - Add Backdoor

You take the exact same drill as above, so you can continue to master the rules of your offense and add new progressions to work on more skills and more rules of your offense.

Now, instead of the 2nd player catching the ball at the top of the key, you'll add a third rule of your motion offense. Any time you are overplayed, cut backdoor.

Now, you have enough to start a motion offense!!

Here are some other variations you can do with the same drill to work on other skills!

The 2nd player catches the ball, shot fakes, steps through, then 1 dribble finish.

The 2nd player catches the ball, shot fakes, step through, 2 dribbles, Euro step-finish.

The 2nd player catches the ball, shot fakes, step through, dribble change, jump shot.

You can also construct drills that incorporate screening and shooting -- or any aspects of your offense with skill development mixed in. That's one of the biggest benefits of the motion offense. You can practice your motion and fundamental skills at the same time. The combinations are endless! And you're improving the skills of your players while engraining the rules of your offense with hundreds, possibly thousands of repetitions.

You can even practice defense at the same time as well. Now you're tripling the efficiency!

In addition to this, you could do some 2v2 and 3v3.

And what's even better is that you don't need 10 players to work on your offense! I know that youth coaches run into this issue all of the time.

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


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charlie says:
3/14/2017 at 10:51:06 PM

We also very much like to take "parts" of our offense and make them into drills. This idea is better than just going through other coach's drills.

We do not, however, pass the ball to a coach, but rather to another player so that he can better develop pass receiving and footwork drills and then can make the passes to work on his passing.

Once the basic footwork and patterns are learned we insert a defender or two for more realism on offense. This also works defensive skills and adjustments.


Jeff Haefner says:
12/3/2013 at 8:41:03 AM

Kirk - I coach 3rd grade girls and have found that you can do pieces of this drill. Progression 1 and 2 will work. However in progression 1, I have a player pass the ball so they get used to throwing an accurate bounce pass.

I think once you start trying a few things it will quickly become obvious what the players need and what they are ready for.

Here's the pass and cut offense you are building:

Personally I have not used all these progressions with 3rd graders to build the pass and cut offense. I use progression 1 and then just play a 4 on 0 pass and cut drill so they learn the continuity and also practice passing and facing in triple threat.

There are lots of way to go about building the offense. You might have to tinker a bit to figure out what works for you and how you can combine skill work with teaching your offense.


Kirk says:
11/29/2013 at 10:35:00 PM

I am just starting to coach 3 rd and 4th grade girls. We will be starting practice in the next two weeks. I am not sure how detailed I should get with teaching offense at this age, especially setting screens. This looks like a good drill to get them to start to understand moving with out the ball. For those with past experience, is this drill to complicated for them?


Ken says:
10/18/2012 at 10:09:43 AM

Great idea coach -

I used to do that with certain things out of my offense. Just like breaking it down in practice.

I think that as coaches we need to break down our offenses for the kids. I know that some youth coaches don't have a lot of time to implement things, so they do the best they can with the time alloted.

Like you said, the drills help them get into the mindset for certain things.


Michael Weber says:
10/18/2012 at 10:04:33 AM

Simple and effective. With my older kids, we use this as our warm-ups instead of just doing layup lines. Helps get into the "motion" mindset before the game.


Joe Haefner says:
9/4/2012 at 9:18:59 AM

Thank you for your input, Coach Axel. We do the exact same thing as a progression.

Eventually, I have them pass and make their own decision. Cut or screen away. First, without a defense. Once they have show some proficiency, we add a defense.

With younger teams, I usually hold off on the ball screen or hand off option, but I won't tell them not to do it. I will use a very simple set to incorporate some ball screens.

With more experienced teams, I will give them the options of cut, down screen, and ball screen.


Coach Axel says:
9/4/2012 at 8:36:36 AM

I've run the same drill for the last couple of seasons (we also run the Read and React Motion Offence). The only variation I've made is to not have the coach as the passer but rather a defender. If the coach defends inthe deny position on the rotation then the player cuts to the hoop and if the coach defenders below the read line then they are to catch and drive hard for 3 dribbles then pull up for a jumper. I like to make the players make the decision based on a defender rather than arbitrarily per drill. Also if the passing player passes when the defender is in the deny, both players have to turn and sprint to the opposite hoop (to simulate getting back in transition after a turnover). All simple reads that players need to make sooner or later in the offence.

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