Motion Offense – Four-Player Drills

By Randy Sherman

In Vol. 7 of the FastModel Motion Offense Forum we progress to four-player drills to teach passing, screening, cutting, floor balance and reading the defense.

In building and refining a motion offense, especially one of the four-out variety, you will rely more heavily upon four-player drills than any other drill grouping. The carryover from practice to the game is easy to see in four-player drills for motion offense.

Four-player drills have the ability to combine all the elements of motion offense presented in this series. Following the pattern, introduce four-player drills using no defense. Progress to defending only the cutters and finally introduce 4-on-4 live play and add restrictions and modifications as ready.

4v0 Basket Cuts

Introduce four-player action by using basket cuts to teach players how to cut, fill, balance the floor and use the dribble to improve spacing.

In the diagram below some possible four-man actions are detailed. This can be a review before using screening in your four-player drills. Points of emphasis:

  • Use the dribble to center the ball (taking the ball to the action)
  • Do not make two consecutive cuts in the same direction
  • Catch and square
  • Stay high & wide
  • Make players aware of floor balance and spacing at all times
  • Demand talk and communication. “CUT!” “Fill! Fill! Fill!”
  • When a player finishes a basket cut and exits to perimeter, have them yell “Right! Right!” or “Left! Left!” so the next cutter knows what direct he/she must fill to. No two consecutive cuts in the same direction.


For variety, add the concept of shallow cuts to 4v0 Basket Cuts as well.

4v2 Live

Next progress to adding screens and guarding the cutters. 4v2 live allows the offense the opportunity to focus on screening for cutters while allowing the cutters to make reads.

Maintain the same spacing and alignment and 4/0 Basket Cuts. Also maintain the screening roles; the role of the screener is to screen for the cutter and then read his/her cut and make the corresponding second cut. In this drill only cutters can score.

It is here that the rules of full-team motion offense can be best introduced:

  • Screeners screen for cutters
  • Cutters can screen for one another

Diagrammed below are some of the myriad of actions available in 4v2 Live. Shallow cuts can be implemented into the drill as well.


Coaches can progress this drill by using a few tweaks such as:

  • Start each possession with a shallow cut
  • Start each possession with the cutters cross-screening for one another
  • First two passes must be touched by a screener (emphasizes second cutters)

 4v4 Live

From there, advance into 4-on-4 live play with the same rules as the 4v2 Live drill above. Each quartet of players will feature two screeners and two cutters and everyone is defended.

Begin in a four-out alignment. Screeners must screen for the cutter and they cannot screen for one another. The Cutters start the possession on either wing. The offense applies motion offense concepts and maintains four-out alignment throughout the possession.

Endless motion offense concepts will present themselves during 4-on-4 live play but you must stay within your screening rules and maintain floor balance. Emphasize all the screening fundamentals such as basket cutting, reading the defense and completing the correct second cuts.

Use this as an opportunity to coach your defense as well. Assign an assistant to be the offensive or defensive coordinator and you coach the other side of the ball. This is your new shell drill!

4v4 Live Possible Restrictions:

  • Possession must start with a shallow cut
  • Possession must start with a cross screen by the cutters
  • Only the cutter can score
  • Score must come from downscreen or flare screen, etc.
  • Only a screener can score (emphasizes second cutters)
  • High-elbow player must run a deep basket cut when passing to the wing
  • Minimum number of passes
  • Create your own restrictions to address issues in your offense!

Possible 4v4 Live Variations

  • Make it full court! Have another quartet waiting on the other end. When team gets a stop, they transition.
  • Start with a closeout. Have defense on the baseline beside the coach with the offense spaced on the perimeter. Coach rolls the ball out to either of the players behind the arc and defense must close out to the correct position with proper technique.
  • Have offense work against various defensive scenarios such as packline rules, pressure man rules and switches.
  • Allow the offense to pass to a coach who is standing behind them at any time during the possession. The coach can then pass to the cutter. This introduces staggers and baseline screens as both screeners are now free to screen for the cutter. It also challenges the defense with a numbers disadvantage!
  • Keep score for every team! Put something on the line. Use 4v4 cut throat rules to make it game like.
  • 4v4 Change – play 4-on-4 using motion rules and when coach yells “Change!” the offense drops the ball and get back on defense to the other end. Defense becomes offense and transitions to four-out spacing.

Four-player drills are vital to motion offense and should be a cornerstone of practice. Because these are live drills that feature tons of offensive actions, practices may be very simple in design but full of live action and competitiveness. Offensive and defensive concepts can be coached simultaneously.

Continue the motion offense conversation: 

Explore and 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!

The following two tabs change content below.
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.

Related posts

One Comment;

  1. Pingback: Motion Offense - Transition Attack | FastModel Sports