At Youth Basketball Development we believe in a progressive motion offense throughout the 9 to 14 year old age levels and that a limited amount of set plays should be utilized. In particular we feel that the 5 Out Motion Offense allows players to play a lot of different positions and lends itself well to being taught in a progressive fashion with spacing and cutting being taught first and then progressing to screening actions. However, it is paramount that your high school coaching staff be involved in what team offensive system should be used at the youth levels. Before we address this it is important to understand that some of our main goals for our players are: to have fun and improve skill level.
Improved skill level leads to improved offensive execution. You can have the best offense or set plays in the world but if you cannot pass, shoot, or dribble well it will not matter. Your offensive execution will be poor. With that said the main reasons for teaching motion offense and running a limited amount of set plays are:
Set plays or continuity offenses have a role in offensive basketball. However, you will often hear coach after coach screaming at players to run the play, and then the player completely ignores an open lane, shot or teammate. Occasionally a more freelancing offense will lead to bad offensive possessions, but generally the freedom to make plays within a framework can work very well (this is where skill level really helps). Players need to be aware on the court and play the game, rather than run the play. To enhance the decision-making of our players, we create awareness of possible options rather than limiting the focus to one entry into a set play.
In our opinion, players enjoy the freedom to make plays and have options available rather than running a set play each time down the court for our one or two best players. In those situations one or two players have the ball in their hands most of the game and they improve but I question the development of their other teammates on the court. In a motion offense concept each player should know what is a good shot for them and will possibly have an opportunity to score or make a play each time down the court. This is in alignment with our philosophy of having fun and improving skill level.
There are a lot of ways to play the game and there is not one right answer. The one constant for any good offense is good players! This is achieved through hard work and skill development.
As a player you cannot just be a “drill guy”. This is a player who looks really good in the drills but then when starts playing struggles to make plays. At Youth Basketball Development we believe there has to be a balance between “drilling”/technique training and playing the game (1 on 1, 2 on 2, 5 on 5 etc… ). This is why at the end of all our downloadable workouts we recommend putting into a game situation what we just practiced (example: after our pivoting/footwork/finishing workout we recommend playing 1 on 1 off the pivot foot with 3-4 dribbles maximum for the offense). It is important that your players or child try and get a workout buddy/teammate to join them or enlist a family member to play against following their at home workout as available for optimal skill carry over. By finishing with a game like drill we end the training on a fun note as well.
For youth coaches when developing your team practice plans, under the guidance of your high school staff, Bob Hurley, Sr, one of the most successful high school coaches in the history of the United States, recommended a 2/3 skill work to 1/3 team play ratio. Skill work would not have to be solely 1-0 skill development work but would include competitive breakdown drills or small sided games.
We recommend for “team offensive and defensive team concepts” that your youth association works with your program’s head coach or coaching staff to develop a progressive simplified system. This encourages a similar terminology or language throughout your program and an appropriate progression of their system of play. There are a lot of great ways to play this game but if our players cannot dribble, pass, or shoot our offensive team concepts will not be successful.