Simple Youth Basketball Plays
Cuts & Screens for Motion Offense

coaching basketball

Get lots of good shots with simple 2-3 man youth basketball plays that work. The secret to a better scoring offense for both boys and girls basketball is the use of effective cuts and screens.

When it comes to coaching basketball plays, do your young players a huge favor by following some of the greatest coaching advice I ever received:


Give players a few basic rules so they have enough structure to run a basketball offense successfully without sending their brains into mental overload.

The purpose of setting up offensive plays is to create high percentage scoring opportunities for your team by getting players open shots within their shooting range.

All you need to run some simple, yet very effective youth basketball plays are good basketball cuts and screens. When executed properly, these 2 skills alone will get your players open all day long.

You can even start introducing these basic youth basketball plays to young players. They probably won't understand the concept of screening, but they can certainly learn how to make a good basketball cut.


Click on the link to read about each cut or scroll down the page to see them all.

"V" Cut

Backdoor Cut

"L" Cut

Give & Go

Weak-Side Cut

youth basketball plays


Even though there are 5 teammates on the floor, some of the best youth basketball plays involve only 2 or 3 players.

Excellent scoring opportunities are created when a couple players work together by setting screens for each other and cutting to openings.

Did you know that players spend 80% of their time on the court without the ball?

It's what players do when they DON'T have the ball that determines how effective your youth basketball plays are.

Offensive players who don't have the ball have basically 3 choices of movement:

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  1. Move to an open area so you can catch a pass
  2. Set a screen for a teammate
  3. Clear through to the other side of the court, so a teammate can move to your spot

Notice that standing and watching is never an option.

Even the best-designed youth basketball plays are dead without player movement.

It's really important as players move around the floor for them to keep floor balance. Youth basketball plays don't work when players clump together or huddle to the ball.

Try to keep spacing of about 15-18 feet apart. This distance allows players plenty of room to drive to the basket, screen, or cut.

Youth basketball plays start with good cuts.


There are 3 easy rules to help you figure out WHEN and WHERE to cut:

  1. When your defender plays you high (you are closer to the basket than she is), take her higher up and then cut low.
  2. When your defender plays you low (she is closer to the basket than you are), take her lower down and then cut back high.
  3. When your defender sags off of you, take a few steps toward her to back her up and then break out to a spot where you should have an open shot.

Once you decide which way you're going to cut, you can choose the type of cut that will be most effective.

Regardless of which cut you use, it's important to push off hard from the floor, move quickly, and make sharp cuts in straight lines.

If your cuts are rounded, your defender can easily take the shortest path in a straight line and beat you to the spot.

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This is a change-of-direction cut that takes the shape of the letter "V". You use it to move your defender in the opposite direction from where you want to go.


  • Move slowly to set up the cut by taking your defender away from where you want to cut.
  • Walk him down a few steps and time your cut so you break to the opening when you want to receive the pass.
  • When you're ready to break, plant your outside foot and pivot in the direction you want to go.
  • Push off hard and make a long second step past your defender.
  • Get your hands up and be ready to receive a pass.

A good way to work on this cut is to have the cutter line up on the wing, take a few steps down toward the block, and then cut hard back out to the wing to get the pass.


This cut is used when your defender is overplaying you to keep you from getting the pass. The moment your defender's head is turned away from you, cut behind him toward the basket.


  • Push off hard with the outside foot and take a long step with the other leg.
  • You might need to make a slight jab fake away from the basket to pull your defender out of position even higher before cutting hard backdoor.
  • Keep sight of the ball at all times and give the passer a good target with your hands.

A good way to work on this cut is to have the cutter play out on the wing, give a quick foot fake toward the sideline and then cut hard in a straight line toward the basket to get the pass.


This is a change-of-direction cut that takes the shape of the letter "L". This cut is used when your defender is in the passing lane but is playing you loosely.


  • Take a few steps toward your defender and then push off the floor hard to cut out to the wing.
  • By stepping into your defender and getting really close to him, you make it very difficult for him to react when you cut hard.

A good way to work on this pass is to have the cutter line up on the block. The cutter takes a few steps up the lane line and then pops out hard to wing to get the pass.


This is a very effective youth basketball play used when a player passes the ball to a teammate and then cuts hard to the basket looking for a return pass.


  • If your defender is sagging off of you, make a hard cut in front of her as soon as you pass the ball. By putting your body between your defender and the ball, you create an open passing lane.
  • If your defender is overplaying you on the high side, pass and cut hard behind him.
  • Get your hands up and be ready to receive the pass.


This is a cut toward the baseline by an offensive player on the opposite side of the court from the ball. It's used to create an open passing lane for a cross-court pass from a dribbler to an open shooter.


When you're playing on the wing opposite the ball, and you see the ball handler drive to the basket:

  • Make a cut toward the baseline.
  • Go as close to the baseline as necessary to create an open passing lane.
  • Have your hands up and anticipate the pass.

This is a very effective cut to create an open shot because your defender will normally leave you to help stop the drive to the basket. When she leaves you to stop the ball handler, you drift to the baseline to create a good passing angle.

Mastering the basic skills of cutting and screening are a MUST for running youth basketball plays for either a motion or a zone offense.

But to be able to finish the play and score the bucket, players must also be able to:

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