The Swing Offense – Breakdown Drills

By Randy Sherman

Use these breakdown drills to get repetitions and train decision making in The Swing Offense made famous by the Wisconsin Badgers.

In 2015, the Wisconsin Badgers advanced to the NCAA National Championship game under the watchful eye of recently retired coach Bo Ryan. En route, Ryan’s Badgers featured the most efficient offense in college basketball (1.28 PPP).

The offense behind these mind-boggling numbers was The Swing Offense – a Bo Ryan staple.  In The Swing, passes trigger actions and these actions lead to players playing multiple positions on the court and having the opportunity to score in a variety of ways.

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In breaking down The Swing into its component parts, we can arrive at specific cuts and screens that set themselves up nicely for breakdown drills. Let’s examine common cuts and screens in the basic Swing Offense and look at specific small-sided drills to get repetitions for players and hone decision making.

The Up Screen And UCLA Cut 

The Swing starts in a basic four out alignment with a ball side triangle. Getting the ball inside is the first option. Page 001On any pass from the slot to the to the wing when that wing does not enter it into the post, the post up screens for the slot player who runs a UCLA cut. This is the first action that can be broken down into a drill.


The two ball shooting drill above can teach players how to set and receive up screens and gets layups and jumpers for both players. The cutter should drill coming off the up screen on either side. Taking the path of least resistance is the teaching point.

If their cut is fronted, they cut behind the up screen. If they are able to cross their defender’s face, they cut to the ball side of the up screen.

Advance the drill to two-on-two live to teach these reads and decision making.

Flare Screen

On any pass from the wing to the slot, the two weakside players execute a flare screen. Timing this action with the pass is important. Page 004To drill the timing and details of the flare screen use the breakdown drill below. It is important for the screener to move into the flare screen on the airtime of the pass from wing to slot.

Advance this drill from a two-on-zero two ball shooting drill to a two-on-two live drill to implement decision making and reading the flare screen.

Flex Cut

On any pass from slot-to-slot, the wing opposite the pass makes a flex cut off a baseline screen. This flex cut is the signature feature of The Swing. It is her that multiple players are given a chance to post in the ballside triangle. Page 005Because The Swing allows for players to fill and cut to all five spots, every player in the program must learn to cut into the paint and score around the rim. Thus the need for a breakdown drill that gets all players cutting off the flex action and scoring inside.


In the flex cut breakdown, the cutter gets the shot coming off the screen, then the screener gets the shot filling to the perimeter. Again, add defense and go live to teach the set ups, angles and decision making in the flex cut.

Taking an offense and making small-sided drills out of the vital cuts and actions can help players with the same offensive decisions they will face in games. The Swing Offense lends itself to such breakdown drills. Specific passes trigger specific actions and these can be parsed from the offense and made into drills that heighten your offensive execution.

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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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