Motion Offense – Implementing Dribble Handoffs

By Randy Sherman

Tips for implementing dribble handoffs into a four-out motion offense while staying within the screening rules. 

The dribble handoff is an action that is increasing in popularity at all levels of basketball. Many coaches are using dribble handoffs much the same as ball screens. The goals are to create a switch, give a player an opportunity to penetrate and to create drive and kick opportunities.

Historically, true motion offense does not heavily feature these actions. Dribble handoffs can, however, be a weapon that fits within the framework of a motion offense.

While building a motion offense there are screening rules to provide roles and structure. In the motion offense system detailed on this site there are designated roles. There are screeners, cutters and posts and one of the benefits of these rules is giving players roles that fit their talents.

The screening rules in this system are as follows:

  1. Screeners screen for cutters
  2. Cutters can screen for one another
  3. Only a cutter can screen for a post

To stay within this framework, implement dribble handoffs with this rule:

  • Only screeners can handoff to cutters

Screeners are used to finding cutters within the offense and look for them when setting downscreens and flare screens. Further, they often dribble at cutters to initiate shallow cuts. Given this, adding dribble handoffs can be seamless.

Possible actions such as the ones diagrammed below fit within these screening rules. 4 (a screener) takes the ball with the dribble to 2 (a cutter) and executes a dribble handoff. 2 then takes the ball to the downscreen action between 1 (a screener) and 3 (a cutter).


Tips for teaching dribble handoffs

  • The receiver of the handoff should set up the action much the same as he/she would when receiving a downscreen. Walk the arc to set up the handoff and sprint to receive the handoff.
  • The dribbler must keep the ball in their outside hand and avoid flipping the ball too high into the receiver’s face.
  • The receiver is looking to turn the corner to score or draw the post defender into helping up.
  • Set weakside action away from the handoff and time it with the ball’s arrival.
  • Partner dribble handoffs with shallow cuts. It can be a read by the cutter. If the defender locks onto the setup continue on the cut and shallow cut. If the defender sinks and sags below the cutter then turn it into a handoff.
  • When the screener is dribbling at the cutter, he/she does not know if it will be a handoff or a shallow cut. The cutter reacts to their defense by either continuing the setup into a shallow cut or sprinting into the handoff.
  • Handoffs are a great way to set up flare screens.

Teaching dribble handoffs can be integrated with the two-player motion offense drills that are part of the backbone of this system. Begin teaching them in conjunction with shallow cuts and 2-on-0 downscreen drills. Remember, there is a designated screener and cutter in each pairing. Use the dribble handoff paired with the flare/slip to generate game shots in this drill. (Click on the diagram below to add this drill to your FastDraw library.)


As players begin to master the techniques of dribble handoffs, progress to 2-on-1 drills where only the cutter is guarded. Eventually dribble handoffs can become an entry into 2-on-2 live drills.


Another way to build dribble handoffs into your motion offense is to use them as restrictions in 3-on-3 live and four-player drills. For example, the coach can say that every possession has to begin with a handoff. Or stipulate that you must score on a flare screen that was set up by a handoff. Restrict three point shots to only those created of drive and kicks generated by handoffs. Restrictions are limitless!

These pointers should help you integrate the advantages of dribble handoffs into this motion offense system. The roles assigned to players in this system should facilitate the learning of this valuable action.

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!



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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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  1. Rae Drake said:

    What is the technique of the player handing off, and the player receiving the handoff?

  2. Pingback: The Four T’s Of International Offense – Radius Athletics