June 2, 2010 • FeaturesFrom the BenchPlayWinning Hoops

Critical Elements For Teaching

Many coaches stymie their players by giving them too much structure within an offense. Our program experienced a lot of success after we made the switch from a 3-out motion offense to a 4-out motion.

A 4-out motion offense allows the players more room in the lane and provides for much better floor spacing. Good floor spacing is a huge key to success with any offense and it’s especially critical as it pertains to motion offense.

Spreading the floor with proper spacing helps just about every facet of your offense. The player’s back cuts will be more effective the passing lanes become wider it will take longer for help to arrive defensively and the player with ball will have more options due to an increased ability to drive to the basket.



There are several guidelines to ensure that your offense will have good spacing.

  • Once a player makes a back cut he or she must continue on and must not stop moving.
  • If a player is dribbled at he or she must make a back cut.
  • Players must always look to space “up and out.”
  • The offensive players must stay above the designated “motion line.”

Diagram 1

DIAGRAM 1: Players Must Quickly Execute A Back Cut If A Teammate Dribbles Toward Him Or Her.

Diagram 2

DIAGRAM 2: An Example Of Proper Floor Spacing.

Diagram 3

DIAGRAM 3: Keep The Offense Above The Motion Line.


Rules concepts

Our motion is based on simple yet effective motion concepts. We make every attempt to keep things simple which allows the players plenty of opportunities to read the defense.

Players must remember the following motion offense rules and concepts.

  • On every pass players must catch and face the basket.
    Only make an entry pass into the post if you can see the post player’s jersey numbers.
    After passing the ball always inside cut first.
  • If a player’s cut is taken away he or she must look to set a screen.
  • Players should remember that they have two options at any given time — cut or screen.
  • In a motion offense the most important pass is the reversal pass.

Diagram 4

DIAGRAM 4: Players Must Always Make An Inside Cut After Passing.

Diagram 5

DIAGRAM 5: Players Must Screen Away If A Cut Is Taken Away.


Screening plays a big part of the success of this offense therefore it’s critical that you provide thorough screening details to your players.

When learning this offense players must adhere to the following rules.

  • Only screen if your inside cut is taken away. Players will know this after two steps.
  • Players must screen with a wide chest making themselves as “big” as possible.
  • In a 4-out motion offense the screener is always the inside player.
  • Post players must always look to set backscreens.

Diagram 6

DIAGRAM 6: Inside Players Are Screeners.

Diagram 7

DIAGRAM 7: Post Players Pop Out And Set Backscreens.

Reading the defense

Another important aspect for running a successful 4-out motion offense is to get your players to become adept at reading the defense and making good decisions.

Our team spends a lot of time reading screens. It is essential that each player becomes drilled in his or her options off each screen and how to read the reactions of the defense.

Players should remember the following rules when reading the defense.

  • When a player makes a cut he or she must watch the defender and make the proper read.
  • Players must go hard with their initial read — even if it’s wrong — they must re-adjust and do the next right thing.
  • Players must go hip-to-hip with the teammate who is setting the screen.
  • Cutters always have three possible reads: curl backcut or fade.

Diagram 8

DIAGRAM 8: Curl Cut. The screener steps out after the cutter makes his or her move.

Diagram 9

DIAGRAM 9: Back Cut. The screener steps out after the cutter makes his or her move.

Diagram 10

DIAGRAM 10: Fade. The screener rolls to the basket after the cutter fades.

Post-player options

We give our single post a lot of freedom in the 4-out motion offense. We allow the post player to either flash to the ball or backscreen for a perimeter player.

Other times we may even use the post player to screen on-the-ball or to step out and post up a perimeter player.

Diagram 11

DIAGRAM 11: Post Flash.

Diagram 12

DIAGRAM 12: Backscreen.

Diagram 13

DIAGRAM 13: Ball Screen.

4-out motion drills

Drills plays a big role in the development of the 4-out motion offense.

  • 3-on-0 with cuts and screens.
  • 3-player 2-ball shooting.
  • 3-player “live reads.”
  • 5-on-0 running the offense and making proper reads. We’ll do this drill until the motion patterns become second nature for the players.
  • 5-on-5 with limitations. We’ll use restrictions such as no dribbling allowing only a certain number of passes layups only etc.
  • 5-on-5 full court. It really helps the players to set up and run 4-out motion after playing defense and getting back in transition.