False Motion to Create Open Shots

By John Leonzo

As we are getting deeper and deeper into the season, it is vital that your team is making adjustments based on what is working well for you and what teams are doing to take some of your main offensive actions away. One of the ways that you can jump-start your offense without having to overhaul the whole system mid-season is to begin using “false motion” as a means to move the defense and create shots where you want them. Be sure to read the whole way to the end of the article to watch the video with examples and to download a PDF bonus with teaching points and diagrams.

False Motion #1: Face-cut the Screeners Defender

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One way that teams use false motion is to have an off-ball player face-cut near the screener’s defender. This forces the defender to help, creating space between them and their man. As the off-ball player face-cuts and draws the screeners man, the screener will set a down screen for another off-ball player. Provided that a hard cut and solid screen were executed, your cutter will come off the screen with virtually no help. See video and handout below for examples and diagrams.

False Motion #2: Ball Screen Flare Screen

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Another false motion is to have the desired shooter set a ball screen and then following that ball screen up by flaring the screener (examples and diagrams below). The best case scenario here would be for the shooters man to provide a lot of help on the ball screen, creating a long close-out as they try to fight through the flare and recover. The worst case scenario here would be a switch (likely to happen due to personnel), but this still gives the offense an advantage. Making the defense switch will place the defenders in better position to be screened, and also makes them guard an action prior to another action, which is difficult.

False Motion #3: Reject to Flare Screen

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Two years ago, Hillsdale college made us guard this action and it was a nightmare. To execute this action, have a screener set a down screen for a shooter. As the screener sets their feet, the cutter will reject the screen and flare the screener for a shot. This is hard to guard because the screeners defender is in a great spot to get screened as they drop to protect on the reject. Again, refer to the video and PDF below for examples and diagrams.

False Motion #4: Back Screen Prior To Another Screen

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In the video below you see the Celtics using a back screen to initiate their screen the screener action. This action occurs by having a guard get back screened and cut to the rim. The guard will then finish their cut with a cross screen, and then receive a down screen immediately after. This action is hard to guard because the guard’s defender is trailing after the back screen, making the cross screen hard to guard. If the guard’s defender is able to navigate all of that action, they then have to lock and trail on a coming down screen, which is no easy task.


Always be looking for subtle ways that you can enhance your current offense. I hope that the four options listed above are helpful, and I would encourage you to adapt what you like to your current team. As promised, you can get the PDF notes HERE and the video with examples is listed below. Enjoy!

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John Leonzo

John Leonzo is the CEO of John Leonzo Basketball where he seeks to provide the highest quality training for both players and coaches. Through on the court training with players and online courses for coaches, John is able to make an impact in all the areas of the game.

Latest posts by John Leonzo (see all)

Jan. 4, 2016 – MARC GASOL (33) sets a screen. The Portland Trail Blazers hosted the Memphis Grizzlies at the Moda Center in Portland, OR, on Janurary 4th 2016. Photo by David Blair (Credit Image: � David Blair via ZUMA Wire)

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