Motion Offense – Foundations

By Randy Sherman


There has been talk among basketball coaches, observers, fans and analysts this season about how basketball is becoming unwatchable. Scoring is down at the NCAA level and bad offense is partly to blame.

One college basketball expert offered the opinion that far fewer coaches are taking the time and trouble to really TEACH offense anymore. As a result ball screen/Iso basketball is on the rise and offense is suffering.

That troubles me and it has led to this partnership with FastModel to create a Motion Offense Forum for coaches who love motion offense, who teach it and want to share their methods with others. There is also a generation of young coaches eager to learn more about motion offense. We are bringing them together!

The outpouring of interest has been staggering. In less than two days 150 coaches, from Junior High & High School to AAU to Division I basketball, have reached out to me wanting to be involved. This gives me hope for the future of basketball.


With the help of FastModel, we will begin a series on implementing a motion offense from the ground up. Hopefully some of the more experienced coaches will find some of the basics helpful refreshers. The idea is for you to be able to follow this series and be able to build a motion offense with the teams you coach even if you have never been exposed to true motion as a coach.

The series will feature a blog with drill progressions, a forum for coaches to ask questions and discuss ideas, a glossary, downloads and diagrams. There will be a download library where you all can share your resources with other coaches. I will be working on getting all of the drill progression you will see here on video. We want this to be a place where learning motion offense through immersion is possible.

The goal of the FastModel Motion Offense Forum is to create a community for coaches who are dedicated to teaching the game through motion offense and give them a place to gain and share knowledge.

Introduction To Motion Offense

I have been asked if we will be covering four-out motion, five-out motion, three-out/two-in motion, Mover-Blocker, etc. The answer is “yes” but before we get into offensive systems it is important to address some of the very basic elements they all have in common.

There are fundamentals to motion offense that have to be instilled first. I have found that many of these concepts are foreign to a lot of players and coaches. And teaching the details of cutting and screening cannot be brushed over. Therefore, we will start this series with the most basic element of motion offense – the basket cut.

Offense at its most basic level involves (Don Meyer):

  • Moving the basketball
  • Moving players
  • Screening

The basket cut is the foundation of motion offense and it addresses the “moving players” element of the list. It is imperative that players learn to basket cut not only for give-and-go opportunities but also to set angles for screens and to set up cuts off of screens.

Let’s look at drills to teach basket cuts. In all drills emphasize footwork and fundamentals like ripping through on the catch:

1/0 Basket Cuts

We’ll begin with the most basic action in basketball. This drill need to be run from both slots and both wings. Teach beginning the cut with the near foot. The objective is to cross the defenders face and make them jump to the ball.



2/0 Basket Cuts

In this drill two important concepts are introduced: spacing and taking the ball to the action.

As we add players we begin to teach proper spacing. Players should remain 15-18 feet apart. When cutting is introduced it becomes harder to maintain proper spacing.

Taking the ball to the action is a central tenet of motion offense. We do not want the ball to stay on the side of the floor for long. When a player catches on the wing it is important for them to bring the ball to the action with centering dribbles. From the middle of the floor the ball can “see” the action.



3/0 Basket Cuts

With three players cutting, maintaining proper spacing becomes more challenging. The three players in the drill should maintain top-side-side alignment (a Mover-Blocker teaching point). When a basket cut is made from the top continue the cut to the rim then read the action and fill empty spot.

If passing from wing to point, basket cut and replace yourself.

Players should use centering dribbles and fills to maintain top-side-side alignment and 15-18 feet spacing with basic pass, cut and fill action.



4/0 Basket Cut

Adding a fourth player helps things to begin to look like and offense. By no means does the drill below reflect all of the possible actions that four players cutting and moving and filling spots could produce. But there are some pointers to introduce that make things easier as we advance.

First, after catching the ball on the wing, using a dribble fill after a cutter clears promotes taking the ball to the action. That is vital later when screening is introduced.

Second, slot-to-slot passes promote ball reversal and keep the ball centered where it can see the action.

Players should pass and cut and fill the four motion spots. They will make mistakes, but with repetition cutting, reversing and filling will become second nature.



Working up to four man drills and perfecting them is a great formula before adding a fifth player. Adding defense to these drills comes later in the progression.

This is elementary basketball, but watch a game on TV or in any gym and you will see players pass and stand without challenging their defender with a basket cut. Use these four drills as a foundation to build better motion offense habits.

Next up in the FastModel Motion Offense Forum: Downscreen and cutting drill progressions.

(Special thanks to Justin Scanson of FastModel and Coach Jim Boone of Delta State University for getting the word out about this idea!)


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Randy Sherman is the owner and founder of Radius Athletics - a basketball coaching consulting firm - where he consults with basketball coaches at all levels on coaching philosophy, practice planning, Xs & Os and teaching a conceptual style of basketball. While a head basketball coach at the the interscholastic level, Sherman's teams won 197 games in nine seasons.

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