Motion Offense – Competitive Drill

By Randy Sherman

In Vol. 5 of the FastModel Motion Offense Forum we introduce live two-on-two action allowing for the usage of both down screens and flare screens.

It is time to bring together some of the basic fundamentals we have learned thus far and institute a live drill to put motion offense principles to the test.

In this two-on-two live drill, motion offense fundamentals such as the basket cut, the downscreen, reading the defense and screening variety are combined into a competitive drill. And even though the drill is live, the objective is controlled and isolated enough for coaches to correct mistakes as soon as they happen. Players will have the opportunity to make all four cuts and apply their knowledge during live action.

This a “backbone” drill that should be run often throughout the year and used with a variety of restrictions. Here are some tips for running 2-on-2 with a coach:

  • Coach sets up on one high elbow.
  • Screener (player 1) sets up on other high elbow with a ball and begins drill by passing to coach.
  • Player 2 is the cutter and sets up on the wing at or above the motion line.
  • Emphasize the passer from the high elbow making a hard step for a basket cut forcing X1 to jump to the ball.
  • 1 jumpstops into the downscreen giving a verbal and visual cue to the cutter.
  • Cutter (2) “walks the arc” to set up the cut and uses the downscreen.
  • The defense is live.
  • Coach can pass to the cutter, the second cutter or keep the ball and make the offense rescreen.
  • At any point during the live drill, the offense can pass to coach (Coach is always open!) and go set downscreen or flare screen.
  • The drill is run only on one side of the floor.
  • Emphasize the screening fundamentals covered in earlier entries into the motion offense series.
  • Emphasize the second cutters rule: If the cutter makes and inside cut, the screener makes and outside cut. If the cutter makes an outside cut, the screener makes an inside cut.
  • The roles of screener and cutter stay throughout the possession.


To add some competitiveness to the drill divide your squad into pairs (If you have 12 players you would have 6 two-player teams). Set 8:00 on the clock and run the drill with the following parameters:

  • Rotate into the drill on defense.
  • You have to earn your way to offense by getting a stop, rebound and outlet to coach.
  • If you score, you stay on offense.
  • With an empty possession you rotate off to the back of the line of teams rotating in on defense.
  • Switch sides of the floor at the 4:00 mark.
  • Teams announce their score after every basket (or have a manager track it)

The competitive nature of the drill should not take away from the objective. Points should be generated by the screening action. Downscreens, flare screens, basket cuts and shallow cuts are the focus of the action.

To further hone your offense using restrictions is an important concept. Restrictions allow the coach to focus the team on certain characteristics of the offense he/she wants to emphasize. Try these restrictions with this drill:

  • Begin the action with a shallow cut. This moves the screener below the cutter and sets up the flare screen.
  • Limit shots to only the second cutter. This encourages better screening as now the screener becomes the primary shooter.
  • Have the defense switch all screens. With this you can begin to teach counters for switching teams. (To be covered in later installments.)
  • Dictate how you want the defense to defend the first action, then go live. (courtesy of @PooBasketball)
  • Dictate that the offense can only score in inside cuts (curls or back cuts). These cuts only come when offense does an outstanding job setting up the action and play with great timing.

This two-on-two drill is a lead up to four-on-four. Revisit this drill to fine tune your motion offense. If you do not want to designate screeners and cutters so rigidly, try using these concept with the same drill:

The “inside” player is the screener. (Inside meaning the player closest to the midline)

Screen for the player below you. (Unless you are the better shooter)

Continue the motion offense conversation: 

Use the Twitter hashtag #MotionOffenseTips as well!

Any questions: Happy to talk hoops any time day or night! If you would like to be added to the motion offense mailing list, email and let me know!





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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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