Youth Basketball Offensive Plays

youth basketball plays

Try these simple basketball offensive plays built around the basic pick and roll.

The secret to a high-scoring basketball motion offense lies in teaching players to move without the ball using good cuts and screens.

Until players learn to move effectively and with a purpose when they don't have a ball, youth basketball plays (no matter how good they look on paper) won't be very productive.

To create open scoring opportunities, you've got to have players that can do 3 things:

  1. read the defense
  2. move without the ball
  3. execute good basketball moves

For young players, simple 2 or 3-man basketball offensive plays like the Give and Go and the Pick and Roll will create all the open shots you need!

These are two of the most basic yet most effective youth basketball plays ever designed, and they are fundamental to learning more complex basketball offenses.

Players at every position ought to learn them because they work all over the court.

basketball offensive plays

For these and other youth basketball plays to work, players must know how to move with a purpose; especially those players who don't have the ball. Two excellent ways to get players open are:

  1. Making good basketball cuts
  2. Setting a screen for a teammate

What exactly is a screen?

A screen is also known as a "pick." When you set a screen, you put your body in the path of a teammate's defender to help your teammate get open.

Screens can be set:

  • for a player WITH or WITHOUT the ball
  • on the SIDE of a player or BEHIND her
  • If you set a side screen on the ball, you need to get as close to the side of the defender as possible.
  • For a side screen off the ball, set the screen about an arm's length away to give your teammate room to make a cut and lead her defender into your screen.
  • If you set a rear screen, you have to set it at least 1 normal step behind the defender. This screen is what's known as a blind-side screen because the defender can't see it coming.

To avoid injury from the defender turning and slamming into the screen, the high school basketball rules require the screener to give her a step cushion.

Check out the video below to learn more about setting good picks

Types of Screens
Setting a Screen ON the Ball: Pick and Roll
Setting a Screen OFF the Ball

Basketball Offensive Plays

The floor position of your teammate's defender determines the type of screen you will set.

  1. Down Screen - Used when the screener sets a pick near the baseline to free her offensive teammate to cut out to the perimeter or up top.
  2. Cross Screen – Used when the screener sets a pick on an offensive teammate directly across the court. This screen is commonly used in the post area.
  3. Back Screen – Used when the screener moves away from the basket to come from behind to set a screen on a perimeter teammate.

Basketball Offensive Plays
"Pick and Roll"

The Pick and Roll is one of the oldest plays of all time, and it starts by setting a screen on the ball handler's defender.

When setting the screen:

  • Use a two-footed jump stop and get in a wide stance with your knees flexed
  • Keep your arms tucked in front of your midsection for protection and to avoid a fouling
  • Once your teammate dribbles by your shoulder, roll to the basket by pivoting on your inside foot
  • Swing your arm and shoulder as you roll to help speed up your turn and keep the defender on your back
  • Put a target hand in the air
  • See the ball at all times

When using the screen:

  • Set up your defender by moving or faking in a direction opposite that of the screen
  • Rub shoulders with the screener as you use the screen
  • Take two dribbles past the screen to create enough room to hit the screener with a pass as she rolls to the basket
  • Keep your head up and read the defense

Basketball Offensive Plays
Reading the Defense

The ability of the screener and the ball handler to read the defense determines whether the Pick and Roll is effective or not.



If the defensive players switch

The ball handler should take a couple dribbles past the screen and look for the screener on the roll.

If the ball handler's defender tries to fight over the screen

The dribbler should drive hard to the basket off the screener's shoulder for a lay-up or jump shot.

If the ball handler's defender goes below the screen

The ball handler should have a nice cushion to pull up for an open shot.

If the screener's defender leaves too early

The screener should make a direct cut to the basket for the pass.

If the screener's defender drops back to allow a fellow defender to slide through

The screener should pop out to the wing for the open shot.

If the defenders trap the ball handler

The dribbler should use a retreat dribble to back out of the trap and create space to pass to the screener.

Basketball Offensive Plays

Get a wide stance – As you approach the defensive player, jump stop with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. You want to take up as much room as possible.

Protect yourself – Cross your arms in front of your midsection, both for protection and as a reminder not to reach, grab, or push the defender.

Establish the proper angle – Set the screen perpendicular to the direction you expect your teammate to cut. Your back should be square to the area where the cutter will receive the pass. With this angle, you are able to roll into the Pick and Roll.

Set the screen an arm's length away from the defender

Hold the screen – Stand firm and strong until your teammate has cut off your screen. Be ready for contact. Keep your knees flexed, so you can keep your balance if you get bumped. Once you get set, you can't move.

React to the defender and the cutter – The defender being screened has one of 2 choices, and his response determines your reaction:

  • If the defender tries to fight through the screen, your teammate is usually open. The few seconds that it takes to get around the screen is all the time your teammate needs to find an open spot.
  • If the defender switches players, the screener will usually be open momentarily if she rolls open.

Get ready for the ball – After setting the screen, turn toward the ball. Get your hands up and be ready to receive the pass. Basketball offensive plays don't do any good if you're not ready to get the ball when you're open.

Basketball Offensive Plays
Receiving the Screen

When a teammate screens for you, it is your responsibility to drive your defender into the screen.

Wait for the screen – Be patient. It's better to be a second late than to break too early. Give the screener time to get set.

Set up your defender – Use a "V" cut so that you take your defender in a direction opposite the direction you intend to cut.

Cut directly off the screen - Walk your defender into the screen and then cut quickly past it by brushing shoulder to shoulder with the screener so the defender can't squeeze in between the two of you.

Read the defense – Read your defender. The type of cut you make and the direction you break depends on how your defender is playing you.

Be ready for the pass – Get your hands up as you come off the screen.

Basketball Offensive Plays
Cutting Off the Screen

It's the responsibility of the player using the screen to cut off the screen at the right time and move to the right place. You must recognize the floor position of your defender in order to make the most productive cut.

  1. Wing cut – If your defender is playing tight defense, drive him into the screen and make a hard cut to the perimeter in the opposite direction.
  2. Fade cut – If your defender cheats and cuts behind the screen in anticipation of where he thinks the cutter is going, fade back away from the screen and take advantage of the additional space to get an open pass or shot. The screener is between the defender and the teammate with the ball.
  3. Curl cut – If your defender gets caught behind you and trails you over the top of the screen, curl sharply off the screen toward the basket.
  4. Back cut – If your defender beats you over the screen, cut backdoor toward the basket.

Go from Youth Basketball Offensive Plays to Home

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.