Cutters - Against Man to Man Defense


This play is great to use for youth coaches, because it is very simple to teach, yet effective. You can also use this as a simple, continuity offense that you will run over and over. The offense starts in a basic 1-3-1 set. It will provide dribble-drive opportunities.


You want Players 4 & 5 to be your post players. You want players 1, 2, & 3 to have good ball handling skills.


  1. Player 1 can pass to either wing, Player 2 or 3. If the player is on the block on the ball side, he will cut to the opposite block to clear out the ball side. In this case, Player 4 goes to the opposite block for Player 1 to make a basket cut. It will also create an opportunity for Player 2 to dribble drive, if he/she sees an advantage.
   Cutters1 (4K)

  1. Player 1 fakes towards the opposite wing, then brushes his man off Player 5 as he cuts to the basket.
   Cutters2 (4K)

  1. When Player 1 reaches the block area, Player 5 flashes to the high post. Player 2 can pass to either Player 1 or Player 5. If Player 5 gets the ball in the high post, he can also dump the ball down to Player 1. If Player 1 can get the defensive player on his outside hip, he can get an easy score.
   Cutters3 (4K)

  1. If player 1 is not open, he/she cuts to the opposite wing, and Player 5 replaces him on the low block. Player 3 cuts to the top of the key. Player 4 cuts to the free throw line.
   Cutters4 (4K)

  1. If Player 5 & Player 4 are not open, Player 2 returns the ball to the top of the key. They are back in the original set, and Player 3 can start the offense again by passing to either Player 2 or Player 1. If the ball is passed back to Player 2. Player 5 will have to cut to the opposite block again. If the ball is passed to Player 1, Player 5 stays on the left block.
   Cutters5 (4K)


Most Likes First   Oldest First   Newest First

ANGIE says:
3/14/2007 at 10:25:28 AM

I love this. This is so simple and it keeps movement on the floor with or without the ball. Thank you so much.


Angela says:
3/14/2007 at 10:39:25 AM

This is a wonderful play, it keeps the ball moving and the kids on there toes. Thank you I will be sure to run this in our next tournment.


Frank says:
3/14/2007 at 2:51:43 PM

This is a very good motion play and can keep the ball moving with many scoring possiblities.


C. TAWFIK says:
3/14/2007 at 5:59:47 PM

BUT WE CAN MAKE THE POINT GARDE make screen to plyer 4 after cut also we can make 2 play one on one


Jared says:
3/14/2007 at 7:20:11 PM

Great play! Very simple but effective.



dheerendra says:
3/15/2007 at 5:24:20 AM

Very effective and easy to execute. Continuity of the move is good. Thanks a lot.


David says:
3/15/2007 at 11:32:52 AM

I like the movement and the simplincity of the offense. Thank you.


Steve says:
3/16/2007 at 3:32:36 AM

Excellent way of developing movement on the court. Thanks for the play! Very useful even with my senior players.


Fred says:
3/16/2007 at 11:05:56 AM

Very good play. I like all the looks each player has. They have a pass option, a dribble option and a shot option for all positions. thanks


amanj says:
3/17/2007 at 6:33:49 AM

This a good drill for learning because it has all positions.


3/17/2007 at 9:31:49 AM

it is a nice and effective drill, but has much to do with the players ability to know what to do at every seconds with the ball.


Mike Pisani says:
8/14/2007 at 12:53:18 AM

It's great for movement without ball but since no blocks are set it would be more suitable against zone defence.


jon says:
8/14/2007 at 1:41:36 AM

I like it , I would definitely use this play.


Joe Haefner says:
8/14/2007 at 10:23:24 AM


I agree that you could use this against zone defenses, but this offense has been used by many youth and high school teams with great success against man to man defenses. It's basic, but if your team understands fundamentals and how to react to the defense, this will work just fine.

For more advanced teams, you could add some screens into the motion to keep the defense on their toes.


BURIM says:
8/16/2007 at 10:56:05 AM

i like it, it's very effective


andrew says:
9/13/2007 at 3:05:38 AM

this is nice and easy please keep them coming.I love it, it lift my spirit up and puts me in the game form


hamad says:
10/5/2007 at 10:30:30 AM

so player 4 & 5 play like X


KHALID says:
11/12/2007 at 5:55:30 AM

Its nice and easy please keep them coming.I love it, it lift my spirit up and puts me in the game form


ramce says:
11/13/2007 at 9:09:31 PM

its great and takes less time to practise.thanks


bj says:
11/14/2007 at 8:32:14 PM

i thank this is a good play beacause, it is a cool play and the ball moves all over.


Coach JD says:
11/25/2007 at 12:54:11 AM

for varsity, i run a 1-3-1 defense and a shuffle offense; constant movement, constant lane slashing, screen, and picks. i decided to mix this in against 1-3-1 & 2-1-2 defense. after scoring nearly 15 points it forced a team to play us man-to-man, which allowed my set play to work even more effectively. i think i will do the same for JV.

jaimel hill cpt., cscs.
heritage academy
mesa, az.


coach Fullenwider says:
12/4/2007 at 10:46:48 PM

I have a really poor passing 13- 15 basketball team. However I have very good Pg. What kind of plays can I use where everything does through my Pg?


Ann says:
1/10/2008 at 11:30:47 PM

Thanks for sharing this. The diagrams really help. I am coaching a youth team and am a little out of my league. We got beaten pretty soundly and I think it was for lack of a good offense. I was told by someone they wouldn't be able to follow one, but the other team had one and it worked. I feel better now that I found this one.


Coach Z. says:
1/16/2008 at 12:31:57 PM

If 2 can't make pass to 1. 4 swings underneath a pick from 1. 2 passes to 4 for easy jump shot


vernon says:
2/25/2008 at 2:27:32 PM

i love this play. im going to run this in the next practice and see how my guys like it. player 5 is going to put on a show with this one.


Malik says:
3/11/2008 at 12:42:22 AM

This is a great play, because it keeps offense moving with or without the ball. and you can easily get a lot of uncontested lay-ups. the players shouldn't have a problem learning it quickly. nice job guys. thanks you


coach wilson says:
4/9/2008 at 4:31:00 PM

i think these plays are good and im going to each the georgia jaguars



Kevin says:
5/21/2008 at 8:34:50 AM

I am looking for an easy offense to use with my 4 grade team. Most of the teams in our league play zone with traps at half court. I would like a simple offense that will work against a zone or man defense with a few minor adjustments.


Joe Haefner says:
5/22/2008 at 8:53:10 AM

Hi Kevin,

First of all, I would find another league to play in if you can. Personally, I am strongly against any zones or pressing before 14 years of age. We have enough trouble teaching the players the fundamentals, yet try to teach them 5 different offenses. I could go on and on about this all day. If you want to see more of our insight on this subject, visit this page:

Here is an answer that I recently posted to your question..

After reading a rough copy of a "Motion Offense" book that Don Kelbick is helping us develop, I believe that the motion offense is the way to go with youth players. A motion offense does NOT put youth players into 'roles.' With a motion offense, they learn all of the skills needed to be a good all around players as you mentioned above. It doesn't if they are going to be a guard or a post when they get older, they will have developed the skills needed within a motion offense.

A motion offense teaches them how to react to situations, instead of just learning patterns like other offenses I've seen used at the youth level.

You could easily run something as simple when you make a pass, you either cut to the basket or set a screen away from the ball. Then, you would teach them a pass and cut drill and a pass and screen away drill. Within each drill, you teach them how to react to what the defense gives you.

And you can slowly expand upon this as they get older.

I would also run the spacing drill at this link:

Hope that helps! We hope to have the Motion Offense ebook out some time this summer.

You could also read the offensive theory article we have at this link:

For the half-court traps, I would use a 2-1-2 formation. Put two guards in the back court. One player in the middle. Two players on the wings. Have the two guards work the ball back and forth while trying to get the ball in the middle or down the court to the wings.

If the ball gets to the middle, he can look to pass it to the players on the wings or hold the ball until the guards get into the front court and pass it to one of them.

If they get the ball to the wing players, they usually have a 2-on-1 fast break opportunity.


Coach JD says:
5/23/2008 at 2:05:14 PM

this is effective, but i see and encourage the pass early in step 3 which gives 3 players surrounding position on the ball for the rebound and two outlets after the rebound if no put back. the two outsid also serve as key elements to stop a fast break and strong points to start defense now and push the other team as close as pssible to a 10 second violation.

how could you play this against a rotating 3-2 and every pass is attacked to keep it on the outs


anand says:
8/17/2008 at 3:09:45 AM



August says:
10/21/2008 at 7:45:53 PM

Wow this play will help us when it's game time!!!


Kevin Thelen says:
10/27/2008 at 8:28:12 AM

How do you think this offense will work for a 3rd grade team?


Joe Haefner says:
10/27/2008 at 1:02:30 PM

Hi Kevin,

I think it would work fine. However, I still feel that youth players should not run a patterned offense. Instead, they probably should run a motion. The motion is perfect because you get to work on SKILLS at the same time you are working on offense, while in a patterened offense that is rarely true. You want your players to have basketball instincts which allow them to read and react to the defense. If you teach a patterend offense, it tends to get players to act as robots because they are learning a pattern instead.

For kids at that age, the offense probably will have very few rules, such as:

1. Do not stand still for two seconds.
2. Fill a spot - designate spots they should be in.
3. Pass and move. cut or screen.

You can gradually progress the team to learn more cuts and screens as they get older. While they are young, you want to keep it very basic.

Here is a link to the motion book we just released:


Travis says:
11/5/2008 at 3:58:46 PM

Great offense, use it for my high school team. However, one adaptation I did make to the play was that player cuts through the basket and replaces player 3, as player 3 take the position above the 3 point line. After player 1 cuts passed the basket, I then have player 5 cut down just after him, usually for a wide open lay-up as the defense is compensating for player 1's cut and new position. This play as it is works wonderfully though.


Snoop Dogg says:
11/17/2008 at 3:52:20 AM

it is such a good play i used it for my team and we won the comp thanks buddies


Mark says:
12/4/2008 at 10:56:14 AM

This play is does appear simple, however, I think that it might still be a little too complicated for 11 & 12 year olds.

It might be a better play for grade 8's.

They may spend too much of their thoughts trying to remember where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do rather than just playing ball.

I am going to try it with my Grade 6 team to see how it works and I'll get back to you all.

Mark Baker
St. Peter's Eagles
St. John's, Newfoundland


Joe Haefner says:
12/4/2008 at 1:27:07 PM

Hi Mark,

For youth teams, we recommend the motion offense. It help teaches them how to play the game, rather than just learning patterns.

If you are interested, you can learn more here:


98TMF says:
12/10/2008 at 8:33:21 PM

I can't wait to try this play.


carmelo abitria says:
1/19/2009 at 5:14:39 PM

my coach used this play and evolved from it. this is a great play


B.ARNOLD22 says:
6/5/2009 at 5:34:34 PM



Phantom says:
6/29/2009 at 11:33:30 AM

How effective is this with 11th and 12th graders. It appears very easy to teach, but will HS defenses shut it down?


Joe Haefner says:
6/29/2009 at 12:37:07 PM

I think you could use this set for 11th and 12th graders as long as they understand the game and know how to react to the defense. If they just run a pattern like a robot, they'll be easy to defend.


CoachJB says:
9/24/2009 at 3:27:29 PM

I like this motion & plan to put it in 2day in my middle school practice. I also believe that after 1 cuts thru, the 5 can step out for a pick & roll with the ball handler.
Thanks so much!


cp says:
10/1/2009 at 2:28:32 PM

The hardest pass for young players is the 1st one especially if the def is over-playing. I teach the point guards to declare a side in order to make a shorter safer pass to the wing. This also gives a better angle for a back-door pass. The screener #5 will then set the screen more towards the side-line. This may seem trivial but it prevents turnovers on the initial entry pass and makes it easier for the point guard to run her player off the screen.


shafer says:
10/18/2009 at 1:21:16 PM

i cant wait to show coach!!!=D


Coach JM says:
10/29/2009 at 12:07:45 PM


You may also have your PG dribble to the wing area and clear out the wing (we call this "circle" because your perimeter players move in a circle pattern). Once the ball gets to the wing, you can then start the offense.

Coach Fullenwider,

Your good PG can then go one on one or wait for a pick & roll with your 5 man.


caitlij says:
12/18/2009 at 1:06:28 PM

i think that these plays are cool but they need more zone than man to man just saying !!!


simwale says:
1/3/2010 at 10:32:12 AM

this is the simplest drill,i like it so boys don't know how to set screens in games no how much i try to teach them.easy to follow.thanx


corey #43 says:
2/19/2010 at 2:44:38 PM

i love it when our coach calls 1-3-1 haha i have gotten all my dunks and double doubles using this play alot in the game


Forrest says:
3/4/2010 at 8:28:18 AM

Great play because it can be used for man and zone offenses. The spacing is great and adding options is very simple. Can be adapted to ones'' personel. Very simple and the use of pick and rolls can be added, not to mention staggard screens. Can be adapted to be used as a delay game offense also.


Phil says:
7/27/2010 at 1:33:01 PM

I use this play with my middle school team ... Out of this set we also run an overload .. using the example above, the 4 would pop to ball side corner ... 1 passes and cut to block .. then moves thru to foulline extended opp side, 3 would fillin up top . If the pass to 1 is not there 2 looks to pass to 5 or 4 .. after pass he cuts to ballside block and then continues to weak corner .. The 4 or 5 then cuts to block .. if not there reverse to other side


Mike Lindblom says:
10/9/2010 at 5:13:35 PM

I'll probably try this with my new U13 team (while doing "clock" offense against zones) so that we can start in 1-3-1 set against either man or zone. That way, if they have trouble reading the D, or a junk D, we're still okay. But worry about not enough motion -- senior coaches, are there ways to get more player movement here...


quinton whitt says:
11/9/2010 at 1:24:49 AM

can you sent that through mail please and the address 510 liberty st Bates burg SC
zip code 29006


Coach R says:
12/28/2010 at 10:29:47 AM

A variation that I use has the cutter popping to the corner on the ball side rather than clearing to the opposite wing. It allows for an overload on the ball side and pulls the defensive forward out of the box area if playing against a zone. When the ball swings back to the top of the key, he then runs baseline to the opposite wing to balance the floor again.


Anonymous says:
2/1/2011 at 4:18:03 PM

I play intramural ball in a league at my college. I converted this play to accommodate 3 players. It's a little different, but still works great! Thanx!


Coach Kip says:
2/8/2011 at 9:12:47 PM

I coach an 10 U boys team. How do you get the 2 and 3 open to receive the pass from the PG? V cut or jab step? Any ideas would be helpful. Thanks.


Jeff Haefner says:
2/9/2011 at 7:02:15 AM

Coach Kip - There are lots of ways to get them open. It's up to you on how you want to teach. Just a few ways include...

- v-cut
- post and seal near the elbow and then step out on the catch so you end up on the wing (kind of like the NBA guys do when they want the ball somewhere)
- start from a stack or box set
- have the guards cut and rub off the post players to get open
- have the point guard dribble at the wing when they are covered and do a shallow cut
- etc.


Jon Gonzalez says:
8/29/2011 at 10:08:23 AM

I have used a similar 1-3-1 offense against the 2-1-2 or 2-3 zone. It works very well against these zone defenses. Specially if the team has decent perimeter shooters as it allows the shot or the penetration drive with a pass to the opposite low block.

I never used it with a Man Defense because the only method to getting open cutting (no screens).

I have used this successfully with girls teams as young as 9U.


Erica Banks says:
9/29/2011 at 8:57:16 PM

So how do you get a basket?


philip mapiravana says:
10/16/2011 at 8:56:43 AM

i have learnt something i did not know. this is very good.


John P. says:
11/13/2011 at 5:53:42 PM

I am coaching a J.V. Girls basketball team. I am going to try this offense because of its simplicity to teach, and its flexiblity. I'm using it against both man and zone defenses - you just need to stress to the players finding the "openings" in the zone as they make their cuts. Promotes good movement and ball rotation. I like it so far.


John Doe says:
11/13/2011 at 9:17:31 PM

This play doesnt auctly work


Coach Kip says:
11/22/2011 at 12:06:17 PM

John Doe,

This play worked for my teams twice in our last game. What didn't work?


Shaen says:
11/29/2011 at 4:11:57 PM

Have a big problem with the ball being stolen from player 2 off the first pass while player 1 gets to the post. Seems like a long time for player 2 to stand there guarded while everyone gets moving. Any recommendations?


Chatham says:
11/30/2011 at 2:38:35 PM

I really like this play! Question:With 2 players in the key against man to man defense, do you find this play crowds the key or allows the defense to play help defense easier??


Joe Haefner says:
12/2/2011 at 9:08:06 AM

If you force the defense to help, the offense has the advantage. Teach your players how to find open spots on the floor, how to pass out of pressure, and you will be fine.


jaiden shannon says:
1/31/2012 at 3:28:54 PM

good play on this call its very good


Ken says:
1/31/2012 at 5:33:19 PM

Joe is right.... find the open spots... there are gaps in every zone..... as one college coach told me, its not rocket science..." put em where they aint. "


Ken says:
1/31/2012 at 5:34:09 PM

Forgot to say, tell your players to be in passing lanes.... so the player with the ball can make a good pass.


TD says:
12/3/2013 at 10:29:58 PM

I used this play with 7-8 yr olds and it works great. One modification that I put in was to start #2 player on block and and have 4 on the wing. As player 1 crosses half court player 4 runs down to set pick for #2 player. 2 cuts up to wing to receive pass then continue play as drawn up. It gives 2 an extra second to make pass back to 1or 5


Geoff says:
10/13/2014 at 6:18:25 PM

Nice play. I found it works better if the 4 is positioned in the short corner.


Roxy says:
11/6/2014 at 7:38:33 AM

I'm a player and this I the first time I've ever done this play before and I'm already in love with it. When my coach first introduced it to us we were all like so confused and at first I thought it was going to be really hard to do but it's actually one of the most easiest plays I've ever learned in the time I've played for my school (this is my 3rd year playing).


Peprah says:
11/6/2014 at 9:31:37 AM



Coach Kip says:
11/9/2015 at 2:02:56 PM

I need some ideas on how to adjust to a zone because I think that you need ball movement as well as player movement to work a zone.

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
11/10/2015 at 4:19:12 PM

Here are the adjustments we make to this 5 out offense when facing zone...

- Move corner spots in to the short corner.
- Hook and look in the middle after you cut. Find openings and gaps in the zone. Clear after a 2 count.
- If ball goes to short corner, top player should dive
- Only if needed: short corner players can play behind the zone and flash cut to gaps (2 seconds).


girl says:
5/9/2017 at 10:50:23 AM

I like it!


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