How to Teach Motion Offense for Youth Basketball

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As a coach, one of the best offensive schemes to teach younger basketball players is the motion offense. Instilling this offense to beginners is like hitting two birds with one stone– it will train fundamentals and improve team offense. This offense gives the players ultimate freedom, so they’ll have the most fun while playing and learning about the game. If you want to learn how to teach motion offense for youth basketball, this is the only place you need to be.

How Does a Motion Offense WorkHow Does a Motion Offense Work?

Another definite advantage of a motion offense is that the players learn the right way to play. In basketball, ‘playing the right way’ means knowing how to read situations and learning concepts instead of running a set every time. 

Here are the basic types of motion offenses used in basketball:

Types of Motion Offense


The 5-out motion offense is helpful for teams with no post players or if their post players are in foul trouble or couldn’t play for some reason. In any case, they are spaced around the perimeter beyond the three-point line. 

Off the ball, all players can cut, pass, or screen. The only thing they should remember is to open up the middle for penetrations and kick outs. Therefore, there are no post-ups and lane-camping in a 5-out motion offense.

4 Out, 1 In

The “4 out 1 in motion offense for youth basketball” is for a team that can play one post player inside and the other four in the perimeter. The post player does not need to be a traditional post-up guy; he could be a big that can operate in the mid or high post and perhaps step out and knock down shots at the top of the key.

In this basic motion offense, the post player is often used for ball reversals, especially when he is at the top of the key. If the post player decides to move to the low post, one perimeter player may move to the top. As a general rule, the perimeter players can pass, cut, and screen, but they are not allowed to post up. The post player can set screens for the perimeter players, but he is not allowed to venture into the three-point area.

3 Out, 2 In

As its name suggests, this motion offense involves three players on the perimeter and two roaming the post. For this setup to work, at least one of the post players must have a decent outside shot for spacing purposes. In the 3 out, 2 in motion, the post players screen for and play off each other. They can work together to create high-low opportunities.

In this setup, the perimeter players may cut through the post but should not camp out in the lane. They can also pass and screen for each other or come off stagger screens created by the two post players.

2 Out, 3 In

A motion offense does not always have to be perimeter-oriented. The 2 Out 3 In motion is handy for teams that like to play a power game, perhaps playing a group of three big men that likes to play at the same time. Again, the spacing could be an issue, so one of the bigs must be a good passer and a respectable outside shooter.

The two perimeter players are outlets if the defense focuses on the interior. They move to open spots to make the post defense honest. They do not need to cut or set screens. If one of the outside players is a deadeye shooter, it makes this offense highly lethal.

Apart from these four basic motion offense setups, there are other types that emphasize different sets of rules and philosophies. These are the 1-3-1 Motion Offense, Duke Motion Offense, the Dribble Drive, and the Triangle Offense.

Motion Offense Rules

All motion offenses follow the same basic set of rules. Here are some of them:

  • Spacing is imperative in a motion offense. Players must be at least 12 feet from each other to maintain optimal spacing.
  • When receiving the pass, the players must be in a triple-threat position. The triple threat enables them to do whatever the defense allows– pass, dribble, or shoot.
  • If a player chooses to dribble, he must do so with a purpose. Dribbling for the sake of showboating is never encouraged.
  • Players do not stand still but must be in perpetual motion. Some coaches impose a two-second rule, meaning no player is allowed to stand in one position for more than two seconds.
  • All players must be decisive. If he thinks he can attack the basket and get by the defender, he should do it as soon as he makes the catch.
  • Backdoor cuts are the rage. If your teammate with the ball looks at your direction and you’re being overplayed, cut backdoor for an open bucket.

What is a Good Motion Offense Strategy for Youth PlayersWhat is a Good Motion Offense Strategy for Youth Players?

For young basketball players, it doesn’t have to be complicated. After all, if they play basketball long enough, it’s only a natural progression of their abilities to grasp more difficult basketball concepts. As a coach, you must slow down when teaching motion offense to youth basketball players. The most important thing for them first is maintaining good spacing and movement.

So, what’s a simple motion offense basketball best for youth players? The 5 Out motion offense is a great primary offense for youth basketball teams. It fits really well for modern offenses at the higher levels, but the concept is simple enough for beginners to understand.

The 5-out motion offense is excellent for teaching players how to play basketball because it requires players to make decisions and read the play of their teammates and defenders. It also does not put a premium on positions, so the rules and concepts are straightforward. This allows the kids to develop a well-rounded game. They will learn to read defenses, pass, cut, screen, and dribble, which are valuable in today’s positionless basketball.

How to Practice Motion OffenseHow to Practice Motion Offense

The only way to practice motion offense is by utilizing drills that enhance the players’ skills needed to keep the offense running. It must be a complete recipe for opponent destruction– cutting, passing, dribbling, etc. A coach must understand the team’s strengths and tailor the offense accordingly. Create rules that fit the team’s offensive identity and enhance its strengths.

3 Motion Offense Drills for Youth Players3 Motion Offense Drills for Youth Players

Young players do not need anything complicated, so as a start, you may want to limit the number of drills to two or three. Of course, as their skills and basketball IQ improves, you could always incorporate more.

1. See the Court

This drill teaches passing, spacing, and filling out open spots simultaneously. All of these are basic basketball skills that ultimately instill good habits.

Here’s how you do the “See the court” drill:

  • Spread five players out at the three-point line, one at the top of the key, one on either wing and one on each corner. A coach stands at the baseline and initiates the first action.
  • As the coach passes the ball to a player of his choice, that player must dribble the ball to the basket. Upon reaching the basket, he kicks the ball out to another player. The player who receives the pass must dribble to the basket.
  • Here’s the rub. When the player receiving the pass makes his way to the basket, the player on the same side of the ball fills in his spot. The player who made the pass fills in for the spot left by the player filling in the spot for the current ball handler.
  • The coach may yell, “Shot!” and the player with the ball goes all the way to shoot a layup.
  • As a rule, the players must be in a triple-threat position after making the catch.

2. Screen-Away, Blast Cut

This YouTube video contains the drills on screening away with three types of cuts. The first one is a Screen-Awat, Back Cut drill perfect for teams with excellent shooters.

  • Position three players this way: One at the top of the key, and two on the wings.
  • The player at the top of the key passes the ball to the right wing and sprints to the other wing player to set a screen. 
  • The player on the left wing does a blast cut to the top of the key as the player on the right wing passes the ball to him.
  • Now, the player occupying the top of the key passes the ball to the one on the left, the player who previously set the screen for him. He then screens for the player on the right wing, and they both pop up for a blast cut.


3. 30-Pass Drill

This is a drill where there are offensive and defensive teams. They must follow the rules, or the team is penalized. The first team to make thirty passes wins.

  • Ball possession goes back and forth if the offensive team breaks one of the rules, such as dribbling (no dribbling allowed) or if the defense touches the ball with two hands.
  • Other common rules for this drill are catching the ball and not squared up to the basket, putting the ball over the head, passing with the wrong hand, and not counting out loud the successful passes as a team.
  • The coaches must watch for committed violations.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Teach Motion Offense for Youth Basketball

Motion offense basketball plays are the hardest to guard because they are not “plays” per se. These are principles followed by the players, and the decisions are made by the players themselves. That is why the Triangle Offense, a complex type of motion offense, has won 11 championships for its foremost practitioner, Phil Jackson.

That said, motion offense is an excellent method to teach youth players to play basketball the right way. They will learn basic skills such as passing, cutting, screening, and reading defenses by running such an offense. This article contained drills and concepts on how to teach motion offense for youth basketball that are sure to help kids improve.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

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Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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