Basketball Motion Offense
The #1 Key is Moving Without the Ball!

Want to know the #1 key to running a basketball motion offense that moves the ball effectively and creates a lot of good scoring opportunities?

Five players who move without the ball

Think about this: In a 40-minute college basketball game, one team is on offense approximately half of the time - 20 minutes. IF the ball is shared equally by all 5 players during that time, each player would have the ball a whopping 4 minutes!

That's all.

In a 32-minute youth basketball game, that works out to about 3 minutes a game that a player might have the ball in her hands.

That's not a lot of time, is it? And that means two things.

First, you sure better know what to do with the ball when you do have it.

You need some good...

Ball handling skills

Passing skills

Shooting skills

1-on-1 basketball moves

And second, you need to know how to contribute to your team's basketball motion offense when you don't have the ball.

That's what we're going to talk about here; moving without the ball.

By definition, basketball motion offense depends on player movement. Without it, the offense dies.

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Many youth basketball players don't know how to move efficiently.

I've seen it a hundred times, and you probably have, too...

A player stands in one place waving her arms in the air, calling for the ball without doing a thing to get herself open.

Or, a player runs directly toward the ball handler, begging for a pass while drawing her defender right on top of the ball.

Neither of those options usually has a very good result.

The basketball tips below will make you a much better teammate when you don't have the ball and will really improve your team's basketball motion offense. 

Tips to Make it Tough to Stop

Never stand still – You should always be moving. Don't stay in a spot more than about 3 seconds. Your rule should be "when in doubt, MOVE."

Move to an open area to receive a pass, set a screen for teammates, clear through to the other side of the court to create more room for the ball handler, or head to the basket for a rebound.

basketball moves

Move with a purpose – Don't just roam around but have a definite purpose for every cut. When you do cut, cut hard. 

Always see the ball – Don't ever turn your back to the ball. You never know when the pass might come your way. 

Know where your teammates are – Though it's really important to move without the ball, you have to know what the rest of your team is doing.

Don't cut on top of a teammate and take away a great move he might have or get him double teamed by taking your defensive man on top of him. 

Know where you are on the court – Make sure when you are moving to get open that you are cutting to spots on the floor that are good for catching the pass.

You'll get into trouble if you catch the ball in the corner, against the sideline, or too far under the basket. You don't have room for any basketball moves in these spots.

Keep floor balance – Always balance the floor after screening and cutting. Try to keep at least 15-18 feet between teammates. This spacing keeps the defense spread and gives the offense room to move. 

basketball positions

Learn how to use screens – Working with teammates to set screens is a great way to get yourself or a teammate open and create great scoring opportunities in the process.

Use your hands as a target and a decoy As you cut, have a hand up to show the passer where you want to receive the ball. This also lets the passer know you are ready to catch it.

Also, one of the best ways to get the defender to over-commit is to use your hands as a decoy by putting them up in the passing lane as if a pass is coming your way.

This motion forces the defender to react by jumping into the passing lane to deny the pass, which gives the cutter an extra step to get open.

Make sharp cuts – Plant, pivot, and push off hard when you make your cuts so your change of direction is sharp. Lazy, rounded off cuts don't work at all.

Use head and upper body fakes – It's possible to trick your defender into thinking you are cutting by giving her a quick head or upper body fake as if you're about to change direction. If your defender reacts, you will be open for a pass. 


Go after offensive rebounds – Make this a habit. Go after the rebound every time the ball is shot. A lot of players stand and watch. Once you get it, you can either stick it back in or use one of your basketball moves. 

Change your direction – Cutting in a straight line doesn't get you open very often. Use basketball cuts to help you change direction quickly to gain a step on your defender and get yourself open for the pass.

Change your speed  Timing is really important. Getting open requires you to adjust your speed. A stutter step or a pause before making a quick cut catches your defender off guard and gets him back on his feet.

This gives you enough time to get open for a pass. The more dramatic the change of speed, the more likely you'll be able to get open.

Be a student of the game – Know your teammate's strengths, weakness, and tendencies as well as those of your opponent. Take advantage of any weaknesses or habits you see.

Good basketball motion offense depends on players who learn to move when they don't have the ball.

Use those 16 minutes on offense when you don't have the ball to make something happen! Fight the urge to stand and watch. Trust me, the game is a whole lot more fun when you’re part of the action!

The goal of basketball motion offense is to open up high percentage shots. It's important that you are able to recognize when you should take the shot or pass to a teammate who has a better one.

Check out these basketball tips to help improve your basketball shot selection.

Basketball motion offense works well against man-to-man defense. If your opponent throws zone pressure at you, you will need some basketball zone offense principles to help you break down the zone.

Basketball Motion Offense resources at

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