Continuing the series on Offensive plays in Competition Basketball – Selecting an Offence

Once players have reasonable knowledge of the fundamental combination plays of screening on the ball and away from the ball, cutting and weaving, the coach can implement a complete team offence.


When selecting an offence you must be aware of your own philosophy. Do you want to use a rigidly structured offence? Do you want to use a less rigidly structured offence? Do you have players with exceptional ball-handling skills? Do you have players with limited shooting skills from medium to long range? These are just some of the questions which you should answer before formulating your plans. For example it would be unwise to use a weave offence with minimum structure if the players have limited ball-handling skills and inferior shooting ability.


Beginners should be given a relatively simple offence with minimum structure, allowing for continuity of movement, balance, rebounding position and defensive safety. As players improve and defences become more sophisticated, teams will generally be able to use more complex patterns. But at the other end of the scale, like the NBA teams in the United States, offences become less structured as superior athletes take advantage of their individual skills, athleticism and great shooting ability. One of the most important factors in the pro ranks is the spacing of players on the court to avoid the prospect of the star players being double-teamed defensively.

When selecting an offence there are certain principles that must be considered for the end result to be successful. Apart from the fact players must be taught the value of control and possession of the ball, there has to be an understanding of balance, tempo, continuity, defensive safety, rebounding and patience. It should be remembered for every action there will be a reaction. If the defence overplays a particular situation the offence must be able to identify this and react accordingly. One of the most important aspects of teaching beginning players is how to read the game.


With junior teams, begin with a simplified version of your offence and add refinements as the players progress. You should practice the motion of your offence using all five players without defenders. Options that will provide each player with scoring opportunities are repeated until all players become familiar with their roles and correct timing of the various moves. Although there may be an outstanding scorer on the team – and it’s appropriate he be exploited – every player must become a scoring threat. Neither should shots be restricted to one area of the court or the defence will quickly adjust.


Rebounding is a vital factor in every game, but it will be difficult to get second-chance shots if the offence does not allow for it. Coaches should try to design patterns that will provide an offensive triangle around the basket when the shot is taken. This will allow two players to contest offensive rebounds and a guard should be high as the defensive safety. After a defensive rebound, one player is usually assigned the job of putting pressure on the ball to prevent, or at least delay, the outlet pass and the fast break opportunity. So when designing your offence, make sure you have a player in position as a safety and someone to contest the offensive rebound when a shot is taken.


Tempo is the speed at which the game is played. Some teams like to play quickly with each possession, others prefer a controlled offence with deliberate moves. Many cannot operate effectively at other than their normal speed and that is why you will

often hear coaches say, “Whoever controls the tempo controls the game”. So teams should be able to adjust their tempo to slow down and be more deliberate, or to speed up. A team may trail late in a game and need to score quickly. Unless the team has practiced at speed it will surely make errors. Also if the offence’s design does not provide early scoring opportunities, even if the team moves quickly, it is unlikely it will obtain a high shooting percentage. A team used to quick tempo, on the other hand, may want to protect a lead and slow down.


Continuity of motion is necessary for any offence to be successful. When a certain play situation does not provide a shot, the offence should be designed so the play continues fluently to the next option. The defence will have no difficulty recognising there is no continuity and the offence has to re-set every time a play is completed. This also wastes times for the offence and could lead to the shot clock expiring.

With balanced continuity, players will rarely mistake their responsibilities, they are able to move fluently from one option to the next and make it more difficult for the defence to overplay or predict the offence.


It is a sign of good coaching when a team executes a simple offence effectively. Players should be taught to react almost instinctively without having to think about the structure of their patterns.

Follow the links below to view the previous parts in this series.



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