50 Best Basketball Plays to Dominate the Court

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Below you'll find over 50 basketball plays for youth, middle school, high school and college coaches. These basketball plays are organized by category, to help you find what you need:

It seems that almost everyone loves to draw up set plays and come up with new ways to get easy buckets for their team.

It's not surprising because there's nothing more exciting than drawing up a special play to get a basket when you really need it!

But before we get too far, let's define a set play so we're all on the same page...

What is a set play?

A set play is a strategically planned and choreographed sequence of movements to get open shots and score points.

Set plays are quick hitters to score points at a certain point during the game. They should not be your entire offensive system.

When should you use set plays?

A set play typically adds a twist to an offense. It gives you the opportunity to show the defense something different to keep them off balance. Plays can run into your motion offense, or you could choose to run a play after running your offense for a certain amount of time.

Set plays are most commonly run out of the following special situations:

  • After time outs
  • At the beginning of games (right after the tip off)
  • At the end of the game
  • When your offense is stagnant
  • After your secondary break

How do you choose the right set plays for your team?

To choose the right set plays, you need to consider the following:

  • What offense will you run? It's best to choose set plays that have the same formation as your offensive set. So for example, if you run your primary offense from a box set, it's best to choose plays that have a similar box formation. This way the defense doesn't get a cue to what's coming.

  • What type of talent do you have on your team? This is important. If you have a phenomenal post player that is great at scoring inside, then you'll want to choose lots of plays that will get them open inside. If your post game is poor but you have great shooters and ball handlers, then choose plays that spread things out and keep the defense off balance. You'll need to carefully consider your players strengths and weaknesses when choosing your set plays.

  • What coaching style do you have? Not much needs to be said about this because it happens naturally. But this is a consideration. Are you a conservative coach that likes to slow things down and execute in the half court? Do you want to run and gun? Do you want to shoot lots of three pointers? All this will reflect the plays that you choose.

  • What are your plays designed for? Most coaches have a dozen or so plays in their back pocket to deal with various situations. So the first thing you should do is make a list of the various situations you want to be prepared for. Here are some types of basketball plays you might want or need:
    • Plays to get post players open
    • Plays when you need a basket
    • Basketball plays for end of game situations
    • Plays for the end of periods
But keep in mind, sometimes less is more, it's better to just have a few good plays, that your players become really good at, rather than overloading your team with too many basketball plays.

To learn how to score more points and do a good job of running effective set plays, be sure to read this article:

16 Tips for Running Effective Plays

Once you learn the basics from the article above, here are a few set plays for you to try out:

Basketball Man to Man Plays

UNI Play

Don Kelbick's Motion Offense

1-3-1 Cutters



Swing Variation

5 Out Zinger

4 Out Swing Rattle

Picket Fence

Cincy - Man or Zone

Houston Rockets Box Set - Big Man

3 Man Series Play

5 Quick Hitters for Your Motion Offense

2 Basketball Pick and Roll Plays

3 Essential Flex Offense Plays - 1-4 High Set

Flex Offense Play - Strong Side Ball Screen

Indiana Short Roll

Zoom Action Offense from Toledo & Pitt

Basketball Zone Plays



Overload 2



Quick Hitter Vs. 1-3-1 Zone

Cincy - Man or Zone

Zone Plays Resource:

Beating the Zone - 75 Set Plays to Score Against Zone Defense

Basketball Out of Bounds Plays


Slice - Sideline

Wide Open Spaces - Under Basket

Post 1 - Under Basket

Celtics Handoff - Sideline

Kansas St - Screen the Inbounder Play

Chicago Bulls Vs. Orlando Magic - Baseline

Kobe's Game-Winning 3-Pointer Vs. Grizzlies - Sideline

Illinois's Box Z - Baseline Out of Bounds Play Against Zone

Press Break Plays

Line - Press Breaker

Cheetah - Press Breaker

Special Situation Plays

Foul Shot Tip-In Plays

Foul Shot Fast Breaks

Download 32 of our favorite basketball plays

IF YOU'D LIKE MORE SET PLAYS, check out our FREE 85 page ebook with 32 great basketball plays that are neatly organized and ready for you to print out in PDF format.