The Create And Locate Offense – Introduction

By Randy Sherman

Tony Parker

Part One – An introduction to The Create And Locate Offense, an approach to basketball designed to create offense uncluttered.  

What is the essence of offense?

What is the “bare minimum” number of offensive concepts a coach can teach and expect success?

Can what has been simplified be simplified even further?

These questions have guided a quest to simplify offense to the point where offense becomes uncluttered and the objective of scoring takes precedence over actions.

This approach has culminated in the organization of The Create And Locate Offense.


Before we dive into the organization of the offense, let’s take a look at what the offense is and what it is not. In fact, the word “offense” itself may not be the most apt descriptor for what Create And Locate is all about. It is more of a method or concept of play.

That word “offense” conjures up images of patterns, cuts and screens neatly organized or packaged with a name for each of these five-player routines. Alas, the game of basketball is not played so neatly and Create And Locate embraces this reality.

The Create And Locate approach is concerned with “less” and not “more.” While a few rules and concepts hold it together and make objectives clear, a long list of sets, plays, specials and counters you will not find.

This offense may not appeal to the walk it up, grind it out, clock management and shorten the game crowd for Create And Locate has a brutal devotion to one thing – scoring. It is not concerned with continuing a pattern or series of actions reversal after reversal. Whereas many offensive philosophies are dogmatic about the method in which they score, Create And Locate cares only that you do.

It is not distracted by the many cuts and actions that players can memorize, dutifully recall and perform on command. Instead, there exists but two objectives of Create And Locate:

  • CREATE by piercing the DOME
The Dome

Diagram 1

Diagram 1 – THE DOME – the intact defense forms a DOME protecting the rim

That’s it. That is the Create And Locate mindset on every offensive possession. Versus man-to-man defense or zone the twofold mission never changes – create help/rotation by piercing the DOME (note: monosyllabic keywords used to teach the offense are in ALL CAPS) of the defense and then locating a One Count shot.


Any discussion of offense should begin with spacing; Create And Locate is no different. A principle borrowed from Mike Mackay of Basketball Canada is the six block grid. For the purposes of Create And Locate, we will call them Zones A-F.

Diagram 2

Diagram 2

Diagram 2 – Six Block Grid – Zones A-F

Players must fill five of the six zones while leaving one of the zones closest to the ball vacant. This gives the ball a “double gap” and room to drive aiding the mission of piercing the DOME. Given the choice of driving to the occupied zone or the vacant zone, the Create And Locate prefers the vacant zone every time.

Diagram 3

Diagram 3

Diagram 3 – Six Block Grid. Five of the six blocks are filled. Rule: one of the zones nearest the ball must be vacant

The six block grid is meant to create a vertical and horizontal stretch of the defense. Players stay out of their own teammates way. There is space available for the ball handler to “get a PIERCE” and put the rim under attack.

Should a player need assistance in “getting a PIERCE,” there are some rules in place. For example, a “big” can enter a zone containing the ball, but only to set a ball SCREEN as depicted below.

Diagram 4

Diagram 4

Diagram 4 – Rule: A “BIG” may enter an occupied zone, but only the zone with the ball and only to set a ball screen.

Diagram 5

Diagram 5

Diagram 5 – Rule: A “BIG” may enter an occupied zone, but only the zone with the ball and only to set a ball screen.


The ball maybe dribbled into an occupied zone to WEAVE (dribble handoff) with another player. This pseudo-ball SCREEN can enable the receiver of the WEAVE to turn the corner and pierce the dome.

Rule: A player may only dribble into an occupied block to WEAVE with another player. Typically this would be guard-to-guard or big-to-guard.

Diagram 6

Diagram 6

Diagram 6 – WEAVE (DHO)

If a perimeter pass is made, a player may CUT. Teammates would then FILL staying within the spacing guidelines of filling five of the six zones while leaving one open near the ball.

Diagram 7

Diagram 7

Diagram 7 – A player may pass and CUT, teammates would then fill following the guideline of filling five of the six blocks while leaving one closest to the ball vacant

It should be noted that players of any position can fill any of the five zones. Diagrammed are traditional arrangements but any number of alignments can be achieved.

Again, Create And Locate cares only about scoring and not as much about positions and stereotypical locations on the floor for those positions.

Also, the Create And Locate is not about a long list of rules and patterns and “what happens if…” questions. The law of Create And Locate is to create by piercing the dome as early in the possession as possible (Preferably within the first seven seconds of the possession). The quest to PIERCE the DOME begins the second the offense gains possession of the ball.

Do not bog down on maintaining rules and continuity in the “pre-PIERCE” phase. Instead teach athletes to get a PIERCE or help a teammate get a PIERCE right away.

The law of the Create And Locate is to create by piercing the DOME as early in the possession as possible.

The Create And Locate mindset does not favor multiple East-to-West passes or dribbles while players cut, fill and replace. It favors piercing the DOME at the first sign of weakness then playing basketball.

To that end, if your team has yet to PIERCE the DOME they should feel extreme urgency to do so via any of the following WAYS.


There are a vital few WAYS to pierce the DOME. Where Create And Locate differs from traditional offense is that it does not bog down in the millions of methods to offense. It only has interest in the vital few WAYS that PIERCE the DOME.

Piercing with the ball is the most obvious way to accomplish the first objective. The player with the ball simply gets by his/her defender and pierces the DOME. Should no help come, taking the ball to the basket and finishing is the obvious play.

Diagram 8

Diagram 8

Diagram 8 – PIERCE DRIBBLE – Dribble penetration splitting the gap and “piercing the dome”

A teammate can aid another in creating the initial PIERCE with a ball SCREEN. This can give the ball handler a corner to turn and accomplish our first objective.

A WEAVE can be another effective way to PIERCE the DOME. When executed smoothly, the WEAVE helps the receiver gain a small advantage he/she can use to PIERCE the DOME.

Diagram 9

Diagram 9

Diagram 9 – DHO – The dribble handoff (WEAVE) helps the cutter gain an advantage then “pierce the dome”

As depicted below (diagram 10), the mission of piercing with the ball is clear – PIERCE the DOME and CREATE help/rotation from the defense.

Diagram 10

Diagram 10

There are WAYS to PIERCE other than with the dribble. The PIERCE can come via the pass as well. In effect the ball PIERCES the DOME. For example, a post entry pierces the DOME. This could create a double team or collapse on the post and help us get to a One Count shot.

Diagram 11

Diagram 11

Diagram 11 – PIERCE with the entry pass into the post

A pass to a basket CUT pierces the DOME as well. Upon the catch the cutter may find a One Count score or cause the defense to collapse.

Diagram 12

Diagram 12

Diagram 12 – PIERCE with the pass to the cutter after he/she passes

The ball SCREEN not only provides an opportunity for the ball handler to PIERCE the DOME, but the screener as well. The pass to the ROLL or SLIP gives us the PIERCE we need to score or cause defensive collapse.

Diagram 13

Diagram 13

Diagram 13 – PIERCE with the pass to the ROLL man after the ball SCREEN

Diagram 14

Diagram 14

Diagram 14 – PIERCE with the pass to the screener after the SLIP of the ball SCREEN


Whether it comes via the ball handler or the pass, the mission is the same – PIERCE the DOME.

Creating offense uncluttered takes a commitment to simplicity. Resist the urge to add, complicate and open the door to complexity. Create And Locate has removed the fluff and boiled offense down to two ingredients that make the task clear on every possession.

Piercing the DOME is the first step. The enemy of offense is an intact defense. CREATE first.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this series on The Create And Locate Offense where we will discuss the Locate Phase after the defense is pierced and application of Rhythm Offense and Count Method techniques.

Special thanks to Ryan Smith, author of Rhythm Offense, RAMP member and Head Boys Basketball Coach at Choudrant (LA) High School for his contributions to this article.

Continue the Create And Locate Offense conversation: 

For help with practice planning and implementation of a motion offense attack, check out the RAMP program.

Explore and use the Twitter hashtag #CreateAndLocate as well!

Any questions: Contact me. 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.
August 9, 2016 – Rio, bresil – Tony Parker (Credit Image: � Panoramic via ZUMA Press)

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  4. Mike Surber said:

    How does this work as far as offensive transition? Do you use this as a secondary or primary offense?