Low - Really Simple Basketball Play
Categories: Offense (Team)  
Ages: All Ages  Youth  Middle School  High School+  

Summary:

This is a super simple play that is so effective and flexible, that this might be the ONLY PLAY YOU NEED. In fact when I was coaching sophomores, all we did was teach a very simple motion offense and had ONE play that was beyond belief simple. It was called "low".

We generally ran this play at the end of quarters but you can use it anytime. In fact, during one game in particular, we even ran the play over and over for about 5 minutes straight because they could not stop it. They know it's coming but you have the floor spread and they can't stop it.

Personnel:

1 - Your best playmaker that can handle the ball, drive, score, and pass.
2 & 3 - Good shooter than can be a threat from the outside.
4 & 5 - Someone that can rebound and make shots inside.

Instructions

  • Put your players in a 1-4 alignment along the baseline (low). Your best player should get the ball above top of key. You want your shooters in the corners to stretch the defense. Then your best player would just create.
  • With the floor spread, Player 1 should be able to create and drive past their defender. From there, he/she just makes a good decision (shoot or pass to the open player for the shot).
  • Many times Player 1 will drive to the basket, get almost there, and the help defense steps in. From there the point guard reads the defense and then kicks to a player in the corner for a wide open three. But sometimes your best player will get all the way to the basket for a layup or make a short dish to a post player for a layup. It doesn't get any simpler and we always get good shots from this play. The key is for Player 1 to make good decisions and kick it to the open player when the defense helps.
  • It's also worth noting that if the defender stays low and helps, the wing should cut to the wing. If the defender comes up high to stop the ball, the wing should stay in the corner.

Additional Comments:

This play might seem too easy. Well, it is too easy but it works. All you need is one good player and a couple players that can stand and shoot. You just let your point guard create and make plays.

The great thing about it is that it's so flexible and so easy that you have time to work on other things. That's why I used this play. I wanted to spend as much time as possible working on fundamentals. So we didn't even practice plays. We just used this set at the end of quarters and it worked great.










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Comments

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JD Williams says:
12/14/2010 at 3:22:30 PM

I would have to agree! I ran a similar play with my U14 girls last season, but instead of being at the baseline, they were all lined up mid-way between the baseline and the foul line (entended). This allowed them to also have the oppoftunity to incorporate pick and roll and still have room to negotiate. Truly the play is simple in design but very effective when executed by a solid and confident ball handler! Got us to the the division championships it did!

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Tom says:
12/15/2010 at 1:32:26 PM

Thanks very much for the "Low" play.
Your comments and plays are of tremendous use to me. Keep up the great service!

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Ken Sartini says:
12/15/2010 at 4:16:33 PM

We ran this a lot and yes, it won us several games too! Take it to the hole, get into the lane, jump stop and shoot the J ..... and penetrate and kick it out to a wing 3 point shooter.

We had some teams try to do this to us also... we defended it by forcing the ball OFF the center line... get it off to one side and your helpside D will be dictated. JMO

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John says:
12/15/2010 at 5:33:47 PM

I have a fairly good group of girls, but our league does not award 3 point shots, so we don't send them out that far for a shot. I would prefer that a post player gets the pass. Having said that, how does the point guard penetrate against a zone or is this meant to be used against a zone at all.

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Rupert says:
12/15/2010 at 6:08:05 PM

Honestly, I would say it''s a nice play for end of game/quarter situations. But it has one big deficite if you play it as a set during the whole game. In fact only one player, who is probably allready your best, becomes better in the games. He''s the only one who''s making decisions, handles the ball all the time. Besides the other four guys are in danger to become robots and just running to their spots.

For youth basketball I prefer motion offenses, cause everybody is involved in the play and all your players will become better.

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  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
2/24/2015 at 9:30:09 AM

Totally agree with you. We NEVER ran this as our offense. It was intended to just give you a simple play for end of game situations or when you need a bucket. We ran motion offense 99% of the time.

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Dan A Richards says:
12/15/2010 at 6:29:24 PM

I would agree with Rupert this is the ultimate play for only developing one player's ballhandling and decision making skills. It should only be used by a coach with a 'winning is everything' attitude. If I were a varsity coach I would ban this play from my developmental league. What works isn't always what's best for the greater program. Often it's the worst. This is a great case in point.

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Jeff Haefner says:
2/24/2015 at 9:30:33 AM

Totally agree with you. We NEVER ran this as our offense. It was intended to just give you a simple play for end of game situations or when you need a bucket. We ran motion offense 99% of the time.

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JK says:
12/15/2010 at 7:19:17 PM

I like the play if your main purpose is to get one of the other four players an open shot. It takes some pressure off the not so skilled ball handlers in knowing they just need to get into a shooting position on the floor.
this would not be a desirable play to run as your main offense as it does not allow others as much involvement.
In closing I would hate to see the ball handler lose the ball to the defender as the others have little chance to defend.

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Joe Haefner says:
12/15/2010 at 9:44:29 PM

I agree with you guys. You do not want to use this as your offense. This is just a simple play to go to a few times a game, if needed.

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DCS says:
12/16/2010 at 2:46:10 PM

We run this play alot. Its really effective in our league where man to man is the only defense allowed. I call this play whenever the defending team has a dominate player that is playing the ball instead of his man or they are playing a zone. It expsoses the zone so the refs have to call it or it isolates the player that is playing the ball instead of man to man.

We almost always score on it.

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Lendue says:
12/17/2010 at 12:54:11 PM

@DCS: Just curious, why would a league ban zone defenses?

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Lamarcus says:
12/18/2010 at 1:05:58 AM

Would you run this play against a zone defence though?

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Shawn says:
12/18/2010 at 7:27:47 PM

Against any zone you are just trying to over load an area or put more offensive players in one area than defensive players so to me a pass may have to happen a little earlier but i do think this play could work against a zone. But like alot of the others have said this is a good play not offense.

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Ken Sartini says:
12/19/2010 at 2:53:09 PM

Lendue,

The are several reasons for not allowing zones in youth leagues.

1- Young kids typically cannot shoot the ball well.
2- Playing zone does not teach the kids how to cover a man, play one pass away or get to the HELP LINE (which is very important)
3- Kids don't learn how to play the game by reading defenses and making proper cuts.

The bottom line is they really don't learn how to play the game. Young kids should be having FUN while learning the game -its NOT about winning at this level - winning is a by product of being fundamentally sound. JMO

As for the 1-4 low, we ran that a lot at the Varsity level (no, it wasn't our primary offense) we would end a quarter with that or just run it when we felt like we needed a quick shot. IF you have a good point guard or anyone who can handle the ball - its a great way to get to the basket - dump it to a post player - or kick it out to a wing... or just penetrate, get in the lane and shoot the J.

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Lennie says:
12/20/2010 at 12:26:00 PM

Thanks Ken! My son's rec league coaches taught man-to-man, by default, in the past. They're only permitted an hour of practice a week, which is ridiculous considering how much there is to teach.

This season's coach though has a defensive mindset and has begun to teach some 2-3 zone. My son's excited because it's new; I'm kinda "meh."

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Walter Williams says:
1/18/2011 at 9:49:27 PM

For those coaches concerned about one player getting all of the development, I think a variation of this would be to alternate positions so that players other than just the "best" player get the opportunity to be the playmaker. I coach two AAU teams and I think I may give this a try as a nice change of pace.

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Shane Thomson says:
3/7/2011 at 3:54:29 PM

I do use this play from time to time with my best player running the point. But, it will hurt you if your pg comes down and shoots and the other team gets the ball and transitions. Your team is already behind the other team in transition defense and therefore is at a disadvantage. My team constantly got beat in transition if my pg did not score. I won''t be using this play too much any more. This would be good for a end of quarter shot.

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Ron says:
5/6/2015 at 8:08:31 AM

Any instructions for the four baseline players regarding movement? What if the PG stops his dribble? If it is a tight man defense, I think some movement needs to be taught to counter-attack.

Thanks!

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  1 reply  

Jeff says:
5/6/2015 at 10:39:29 AM

For the four baseline players, the instructions you give them will depend on the age level. With really young kids, I mainly want them to keep spacing. If that means they stay in their spot, then they stay in there spot.

Ideally the players will adjust, read the passing lanes, and apply basic fundamental spacing concepts. For example, if the PG dribbles toward the right post player, that post player might need to flare to the short corner while the right corner player moves to the wing. The left post player might take a couple steps toward the top to improve the passing angle.

I try to keep it simple and avoid too much instruction. Let them try it and then both the coach and players can adjust. Sometimes players figure it out on their own. Other times the coach might need to suggest adjustments.

If your PG picks up their dribble and makes bad decisions, then the play won't work. The good news is that this mistake gives you a great teaching opportunity and opportunity to work with the PG on their skills and decision making.

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Nicki B says:
8/18/2015 at 12:04:11 AM

Just trying to clarify if this play is primarily used against M2M or a zone defense?

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  1 reply  

Jeff says:
8/18/2015 at 2:33:40 PM

You can run it against both. But it works better against man.

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D says:
12/30/2017 at 4:58:52 PM

Lendue, another reason to not run zone at the youth level is tp get kids moving and to learn how to play defense. In some youth programs, all kids do in zone is run to a spot and stand there. One thought is that at some point, sone defense becomes man, so why not stress man principles early on?

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EMoran says:
11/16/2018 at 12:46:39 AM

This play might work to score a quick 2 with a dominant player but it does so at the expense of the other 4 offensive players, who aren't set up to succeed by the play. Plus it doesn't clear the lane/paint area which opens up the ballhandler to a charge... if the idea is to lt your best player make the play to decide a game you could make it easier for them to get to the rim without a contest from help side.

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Jeff says:
11/16/2018 at 12:30:18 PM

We run this a couple times a game at most. Often times not at all. We use this play because it frees up time in practice to work on other things.... skills, character, and development.

But I agree with you... it does almost nothing for the players off the ball! Our motion offense looks nothing like this... everyone touches the ball. So good point. I just don't want to spend time teaching our players something more complicated because I want to spend practice time on development.

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Ashley says:
11/18/2018 at 10:44:06 PM

This is not meant for some just man to man defense

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