Youth Offense - Michigan

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If you're a youth coach, this offense is continuous and has a very simple motion. Even if you're not a youth coach, I've seen this offense used at the High School Varsity level.


You want Players 4 & 5 to be your post players. You want players 1, 2, & 3 to have good ball handling skills. All your players will cover every spot on the floor after a few rotations.


  1. Your players should start in these positions.

   Youth-Michigan1 (4K)

  1. Soon as Player 1 comes down the court, Player 4 sets a down screen for Player 2 and Player 5 sets a down screen for Player 3. Players 2 & 3 flash to the wings.

  2. After Players 4 & 5 set a screen, they should try to seal the defender behind them and open up to the ball.

   Youth-Michigan1 (4K)

  1. After Player 1 throws the pass to Player 2, Player 4 sets a cross screen for Player 5 & Player 1 sets an away screen for Player 3.

    Player 5 explodes to the ball side and Player 3 comes to the top of the key.

    You also have the option to have Player 4 post for one or two seconds to see if he can get good post position on his defender before he sets the screen for Player 5. Player 1 would wait to set the screen for Player 3 until Player 4 turns to go set the screen.

   Youth-Michigan1 (4K)

  1. If Player 5 comes across the lane wide open, Player 2 should hit him with the pass. If he is not open, Player 2 should pass the ball to Player 3 at the top of the key.

    Now, they are in their original formation again and they can continue to run the offense from there.

   Youth-Michigan1 (4K)

  1. Player 2 sets the screen for Player 5 & Player 1 sets the screen for Player 4.

   Youth-Michigan1 (4K)


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Howard says:
9/3/2007 at 3:56:27 PM

This is an awsome play...i knew this one and let my team run this play many of times!! The quicker the better and lots of options during this play!!! Great!!


shaniqua says:
11/3/2007 at 10:43:24 AM

that play works sooooo well its amazing! if i were a nba coach i would most definetly use this play. every single time i used the play player 4 would be open. therfore i would always use player 4 as my best shooter! player 1 was always my second best shooter so that incase the whole play backfired i would always have a secondary plan with player1! i just wanna thank you so much for giving us this play because it really actually helps!

from your biggest website fan,


TIMBO says:
11/21/2007 at 2:08:47 PM



kent carson says:
11/21/2007 at 5:41:23 PM

Start your big guys on the wings and you will get height a mismatch if the defense switches. Very important that the downscreeners "open": up to the ball after screening.
Good "Hoops" to all !


daniel says:
12/4/2007 at 5:36:26 AM

This is wery good play. My team olso play that formation bat our 2 firt is on base line 5 give him block 2 get out on penalty 1 pass to 2 and 2 have clear shot.


TOM says:
12/19/2007 at 4:05:21 AM



jimmy says:
12/28/2007 at 1:05:01 PM

Thanks for all the info. I'm a new coach for girls rec. 5th grade that does not allow a press or a zone, all half court man to man(or girl to girl). Any other offensive plays would be much appeciated. Thanks and keep up the great job.


timothy says:
1/6/2008 at 12:22:36 AM

wow nice play


Enfuego (Eric) says:
1/18/2008 at 2:11:28 AM

I have a rec league high school team with 3 scorers, (2 Guards, 1 point forward) 2 average players (1 guard, 1 SF), and 3 players who struggle understanding the game.

There is rules about playing time also.

Teams are starting to play 2-3 zone against us because the lower players really struggle to get theses offensive concepts.

What is a 2-3 zone offense I can use to get the PG, SG, and point forward the ball and shots?

This play is too much about the guys in the middle who just really struggle at times.

Also guards at the wings will sometimes lose the ball


Nick Esposito says:
2/12/2008 at 5:17:59 PM

Will this play work against a 3-2 zone. Usually the teams we play, start there zone very high, because our point guard is a strong player for his age group. Any answers will be very helpful.


Joe (Co-founder of Breakthrough Basketball) says:
2/12/2008 at 5:59:19 PM

Hi Nick,

We don't have an offense currently available for a 3-2 zone. If you want to get a better idea of how to beat a zone defense, read our offensive theory article at this link:

You could also run a few zone overload plays. Here are the links:

You can also find more plays in our plays ebook or at the plays link:


Arsham says:
4/14/2008 at 5:07:42 AM

please send form me
many methods , defensive . offensive , shotting , ........


Joe Haefner (Co-Founder of Breakthrough Basketball) says:
4/14/2008 at 8:33:18 AM

Hi Arsham,

You can find lots of free information by clicking on the headings on our left hand menu.


soumya says:
5/12/2008 at 2:09:26 AM

these r all traditional methods ,show me some new technique oriented offence movements


coach dixon says:
11/18/2008 at 7:46:00 PM

will this play work against both zone and man to man defenses


Joe Haefner says:
11/18/2008 at 8:22:09 PM

This offense was designed for the man to man defense.


Tony VanDerlinden says:
12/1/2008 at 9:48:03 PM

Hi Joe,

Thanks for sharing all of your g-r-e-a-t plays/drills with us! Personally, you have given me the confidence to be a coach for the past 10 years - I have two sons and a daughter who at different times was their basketball coach (Geez how time flys)!

Thanks, Tony V.


Bob says:
12/6/2008 at 3:23:18 PM

Great tool you all have created! I see this offense used a great deal with youth (12>) and have used it before with great success. The challenge in coaching kids, especially younger ones, is getting them to understand that movement does not always mean they must always end up in the same place every time. The key is (and this site does a great job explaining this) for the screener and cutter to read the defense when moving after the screen is set.

As for using this set against zone defense, it can be used with adjustments. When the ball moves to the wing, it is important for the weak side block player to flash to the middle rather than just to cut directly to the block. If that pass is not open, then the player can cut down to the block from the elbow. That movement can open the middle for the wing player to dribble in or can open the top for quick reversal or middle penetration. Against 3-2 Zone, it can open baseline dribble penetration for the wing player.


Mike L. says:
2/8/2009 at 3:07:55 PM

Our 6th girls use this set and it works fine against a 2-3 zone. Just have the wing set a ball-screen on the defensive guard. Your point guard dribbles to the wing and you've got 2-on-1 with the dribbler and a low post. That's about as far as we got with the offense this season ;)


Gary P says:
8/20/2009 at 6:53:34 PM

I have used this play against man to man as well as Zone defense and all the screeners need to do is screen the zone defender and the one popping out off of the screen instead of going to the wing cuts to the baseline then the screener opens up and pins the defender looking for a pass from the baseline or top point where if the post player pind with the ball up top the player with the ball dribbles to get the angle to get the pass into the post area or to the baseline.


Mike says:
1/7/2010 at 12:05:28 PM

I've used a nearly identical version of this for years at the middle school level - a little different set up and a few more options, but essentially the same. Yes, it works like a charm, especially once your players get used to the continuity and realize that they can lull the defense to sleep (i.e. the defense expects them to cut to a certain place such as the point, and you can cut elsewhere) and adjust to what the defense gives.

There is plenty of room in this offense to allow minor adjustments, set up a pick-and-roll, offside guard backdoor cuts on an entry pass to a high post, etc.

It works best vs man-to-man, but I've also used it effectively vs a zone and even junk defenses.


Greg says:
1/12/2010 at 10:57:37 AM

Is this too much for 10 yr olds to pick up on?
Its the first time playing organized ball for about half of them.

I want to teach a basic motion offense, but I dont want them to just be totally running around too wildly without any direction at all.
Should I keep it simple and just say, be constantly moving without the ball and be setting screens? All our biggest and best post players are also clearly our best ball handlers too, so I'm not sure how this will work. Is ball handling really that big a factor? Because it seems like this can still be used effectively with very little dribbling.


Joe Haefner says:
1/12/2010 at 11:04:44 AM

Hi Greg,

It could be too much. I would actually advise teaching a basic motion like you mentioned. You can view this article for a basic youth motion:

I've also used this as a building block:

These are some basic rules that I've seened even used at the highest of levels:
1. Pass and move. (cut or screen)
2. No standing for more than 2 seconds.

Ball handling is HUGE! I would spend at least 10 minutes everyday working on ball handling. I may even do up to 20 minutes. Without ball handling, the offense will be nothing. They will not see open teammates, they will not see the defense, and they will constantly turn the ball over.

You could have your post players bring up the ball to initiate the offense. After the pass, they could cut to the post area.


John says:
2/15/2010 at 8:30:35 AM


Thanks for this play. I know it's a well-know basic plays run by lots of teams from middle school to even high school.

The problem we're having is the defense overplaying the guys cutting to the wings off the screens. We don't have the greatest guards/ball handlers and they freak out under duress. We've tried variations of this play to punish the defense for the overplay such as having the guys on the blocks set a down screen, and the guys running a backdoor off those screens. But this variation has mixed results.

Any other suggestions of how to prevent the defense from overplaying the pass to the wings? Thanks.


Joe Haefner says:
2/15/2010 at 9:26:22 AM

You're welcome, John. I've had your problem and I think most coaches have your problem at some time.

I think it comes down to your players becoming better athletes and better skillled players, because I would do the same thing that you are doing. I am actually writing an article on this topic for next newsletter. Two of the options are set a down screen and run backdoor plays to loosen up the defense. I also like to teach the player to post up the player, then make a hard cut to the wing. I will also have the wing players do a crossing pattern on the baseline which can cause the defensive players to run into each other.

Learning how to cut, how to dribble better, and becoming more athletic will help your players. Tag is a great game to improve agility with visual cues. It's a very reactive type game that is similar to basketball. For ballhandling, we have drills on this site that should be helpful.

Another thing I forgot to mention, use drills that practice these situations during practice. Make things more difficult in practice, so the games seem easy. Maybe, do the same thing, but don't allow dribbling.


John says:
2/15/2010 at 1:23:41 PM


Thanks for the response. We''ve crafted a few variations out of this 3-2 set to add variety. In addition to your base Michigan play and the aforementioned backdoor, we tried: a) passing to the wing coming off the screen and then doing a give/go; and b) having either a wing or a post guy setting a screen for the ball carrier for a pick/roll.

Can you clarify your comments a little? When you say, "post up the player, then make a hard cut to the wing", are you talking about the player who is in the post THEN CUTTING to the wing? Does he do this with the ball? I''m confused by this. Also, at what point to you have the wing players running a crossing pattern on the baseline? Is that just to free them to receive a pass on the wing?

Thanks. Kind of hard to explain what I''m asking without pictures.


Joe Haefner says:
2/16/2010 at 9:18:07 AM

Absolutely, John.

The player who makes the post cut is without the ball. He is trying to get open to receive a pass from the player with the ball. It can be any offensive player who performs the cut.

They simply take their defender down in the post area, get the defender on their back, then make a hard cut to the perimeter to receive a pass.

For the crossing pattern, it is to free them up for a pass. I usually will do this when the point guard crosses half-court. You may have to toy with the timing to make it work.

Does that make sense?


John says:
2/16/2010 at 6:16:45 PM


Thanks. I understand what you're saying, but it's not clear WHEN they players should be making the cuts you're proposing.

Is this within the context of the Michigan play? So the play starts, the wing sets a downscreen for the guy in the block. Guy comes up, goes back down and then v-cuts back up to receive the pass?


Joe Haefner says:
2/17/2010 at 8:22:38 AM

You could do that if you want. I was speaking in general terms, but you can apply the principles to any play.


LarryG says:
2/24/2011 at 12:08:04 PM

The great thing about this play is that it teaches players how to move. A fantastic way to teach players offensive principles. Also everyone plays the post, everyone plays a wing and everyone gets the ball up top. A really nice way to get all players to work on skills for every spot on the floor.

P.S. I played at the NCAA division 1 level and we ran this play very successfully.


sheriff says:
10/26/2011 at 7:30:16 PM

this is sparta!!!


Coach Kip says:
11/17/2011 at 11:00:01 AM

I love this play!! My 8-9 year old boys really seem to pick it up. I'm excited to try it in a game situation. As the year goes along, we'd like to see players 2 and widen away and allow players to ball cut like a 5 out. Lots of different options as the boys continue to learn. Very exciting.


Brad B says:
11/30/2011 at 6:23:50 PM

I like the looks of this. I have done some 3 out 2 in Motion with my 7th grade boys team with some success, but I have not added the part where the wings set a down screen after making the pass back up top. I don't see much action around the high post/elbow area. Would it make sense to give the posts the option to flash to the high post for some high/low looks? I'm not sure when they would do this, though, and would that throw off the timing of the whole offense? Any thoughts on this Joe or Jeff? Thanks!


Joe Haefner says:
12/2/2011 at 9:04:47 AM

Absolutely, Brad. On the pass to the wing and maybe 1 or 2 count, you could have the low post on the opposite block, flash to the high post. This creates a hi-lo opportunity.

I wouldn't worry about the timing too much. I would worry more about putting players in opportunities to score. That is part of the reason I don't teach a continuity to youth teams. I teach them spots (top, wing, wing, corner, corner, high post, etc) and rules (pass and move - cut or screen).

It sounds like you're on the right track with your thinking.


Darcy says:
1/15/2014 at 1:08:52 AM

At the end of step 6, are the post players 4 and 5 coming up high then just going back down low to pick the guards? Or am I missing a step?


Joe Haefner says:
1/15/2014 at 8:12:12 AM

That is always an option, but if you were running this offense without any issues, you would pass to 4 or 5.

If 3 passed to 5 on the right wing...

2 would screen across for 1 in the low post.
3 would then screen for 4 on the left wing.

If 3 passed to 4 on the left wing,

1 would screen across for 2 in the low post.
3 would then screen for 5 on the right wing.


Wesley says:
3/8/2014 at 4:26:42 PM

My 8th grade boys team ran this play two thirds of the time this season. Teams got the hang of the down screen so we began to use back door cuts when they jumped the pass. When the opponent switched, we use that as a mismatch maker


Bird says:
5/3/2015 at 3:54:41 AM

Once you have initiated one side ,don''t screen down the weak side so you can get a mismatch on your cross screen ,you don''t want you 4 and 5 screening for each other so the can switch.


Troy says:
8/15/2016 at 3:44:46 PM

This is actually a great play. Ran this play in college (small College) and now run it for my 5th grade Gold Team and we score on it a lot. Takes some time to teach the kids to set up the guy playing defense on them for the screener, but once they figure that out you have yourself a formidable offensive scheme.


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