Motion Offense Guidelines: 8 to 18 Year Olds

Having a systemic progression of teaching offensive concepts to players is the best way to develop players and build a great program!

For most youth and high school coaches, you can't just recruit the best players and win every year. All of the best coaches that I know have done the following!

It's vital that you progressively add age-appropriate offensive concepts each year. And you just focus on a few new things each year. You don't try to teach too much. Otherwise, your players master nothing!

Here are rules and progressions that Tim Schuring developed. This is from the video and ebook set: The Complete Offensive System.

Motion Offense Adjustments For 3rd & 4th Graders

The biggest difference is that the motion is much more simplified at the youth level. I believe that the only type of motion you should use at this level is the 5-Out Open Offense. This maximizes development and gives all players the opportunity to play in the post and on the perimeter.

The following are four rules we have for 3rd and 4th graders. These can be modified based on the talent level of your team.

  • Spacing 10-12' Apart - It is never too early to teach spacing, but we should not expect players at this level to make a pass longer than 10-12 feet.
  • Getting Open - Use V Cut and Basket Cut to get open.
  • Passer Rules - The passer has one option: Pass and cut to the rim and replace away.
  • Receiver Rules - Look for cutters or look to score.

To build the motion we will begin with 2-on-0. We simply ask players to make a pass to the wing and then receive a pass back as they cut to the rim. This helps them learn solid passing skills and how to cut to the rim without the pressure of a defense.

Things to emphasize: good cutting, good passing, spacing and setting up your man by faking to the opposite side you will cut to.

From there you can use the following progression to build your motion offense at a pace that will not be too fast for this age group:

  • 2-on-2
  • 3-on-0
  • 3-on-3
  • 4-on-0
  • 4-on-4
  • 5-on-0
  • 5-on-5

Motion Offense Adjustments For 5th & 6th Graders

We take the rules we set for the 3rd and 4th graders and progress them to make them a little more advanced. We like to use an Open Motion set.

  • Spacing 12-15' Apart - The spacing will depend on the skill level of our players, but we find that they can keep a 12-15 feet distance. Feel free to reduce that if needed.
  • Getting Open - At this level, we create a 3 second rule. At the high school level, we have a 2 second rule, but we like to give this younger age group one more second so they have extra time to process what is happening on the court.
  • Passer Rules - Our passer rules include: basket cuts, screen away, and ball screen. Ball screening is unique to this age group.
  • Cutter Rules - The cutter rules include: using screens with a blast cut or a curl cut. There is no backdoor cut for 5th and 6th graders. Screeners can shape or roll.

Just as we talked about with the 3rd and 4th graders, you can benefit from starting with 2-on-0 or 3-on-0. However, you can move through the progression a little faster to work your way up to 5-on-0 and 5-on-5. No matter what progression you are working on, it is important to emphasize that all players sprint to the screen and cut hard.

You do not want your players to get caught standing around. This can happen, especially with the players in the corners. To prevent this, you can use the following teaching points:

  • V Cut
  • Fake Screen Then Replace

Motion Offense Adjustments For 7th & 8th Graders

At the 7th and 8th grade level, you can use either the 5-Out Open or 4-Out Closed sets, just like at the high school level. The rules are exactly the same as the high school or collegiate rules with one exception: we do not use a brush screen with 7th or 8th graders.

The other rules are similar to the high school rules. Here's a quick recap:

  • Spacing 12-15 feet apart
  • 2 second rule
  • Trigger the offense with movement
  • Passer rules = basket cut and screen away
  • The 5 man is the only one who can ball screen and then roll or shape
  • Cutter rules = curl cut, backdoor cut or blast cut

The drill progression also closely mirrors the high school level.

Motion Offense Adjustments for High School - 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Graders

Due to the progressive nature of teaching the offensive concepts, by the time a player finishes their 9th grade year in the program, they know how to:

  • Keep proper spacing.
  • Moving without the ball - don't stand still for more than 2 seconds.
  • How to initiate or trigger the offense with screens and cuts.
  • How to pass and basket cut.
  • How to screen away.
  • How to screen the ball.
  • How to brush screen.
  • How to blast cut.
  • How to curl cut.
  • How to backdoor cut.
  • How to shape or roll after setting a screen.
  • How to set and use flex screens.

Why This Makes The Future Coaches of Your Players Salivate!

Imagine if you do this with your teams.

You will be light years ahead of most players and teams. Varsity coaches and college coaches would salivate if their players knew how to do all of these things prior to playing for them!

You will win a lot of games in the future.

Your players will also have a HUGE advantage over their competition for making their middle school, high school, and potentially college teams.

Another hidden benefit of this is that you have more time for skill development.

Quite simply, you have better ball handlers, passers, and shooters. You score more points and have fewer turnovers.

And each year that you use this approach, your small advantage each year is going to compound over time. After a few years of doing this, you will notice a huge spread between you and most other teams and programs.

If you'd like to learn how to do this with all of the coaching tips, drills, and progressions, check out...

Solutions for Developing a Great Offense

Tim Schuring's Complete Offensive System -- Transition, Secondary Break, Motion, Quick Hitters, SLOBs, BLOBs, Press Breaker

Youth Coaches: Destroy Your Playbook and Do This Instead

3 Things On Offense Every Youth Coach Should Teach

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


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Lee says:
5/16/2019 at 11:44:44 PM

When running a Motion Offense for 8 year olds.

1. Which positions in the 5 motion bring up the ball after other team has scored or we take rebound?

2. Do you tell the subs which position in the 5 motion to take up?

3. If on a steal and a chance for a fast break layup should we take layup or the kid should take up position 1 and go into the 5 motion offense?

4. Should the person bringing up the ball always go into position 1?

5. We should not try to pass the ball to position 4 and 5 right as we dont want to get stuck in corners?

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
5/17/2019 at 7:43:32 AM

With 8 year olds, we had the following rules for transition:

- fill the corners first (closest players to corners sprint wide and look for the ball)

- then fill wings and top in any order (closest player fills that spot)

- whoever has the ball is point guard (whoever gets the rebound of steal)

- PG should look to pass ahead

- on made baskets, the closest player to the ball takes it out of bounds and the next closest player is point (although in this case I found it easier to assign the 1 as the PG and 4 as the inbounder)

This allowed everyone to play different positions, which I think is good for long term development. Is this transition perfect? No. Anything you do at this age will be messy. And you might just settle for getting the corners filled and someone dribbling up. That might be as far as you progress, depending on the experience and skill of the players.

We do allow the ball to go to the corner in our 5 out offense. We allow this at all levels.


ted says:
5/16/2019 at 2:56:10 PM

"No matter what progression you are working on, it is important to emphasize that all players sprint to the screen and cut hard."

It's clearly an opinion, but my belief is that particularly in a half court environment where the defense is already set, much of what happens offensively is at a slower, reading speed. There is a time for an explosive cut to a screen or the ball or the basket or even a spot on the floor as the case may be--but many times the screener and cutter reading each other and setting up the screen properly is what makes the play successful. This often requires a change of direction in close proximity to the screen and setting up the proper angles becomes the mission as opposed to sprinting to the screen.


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