My short answer is: If your team can run ANY offense, then it can run the Read & React.

Sometimes the question comes in the form of a statement: “I don’t know if my team can run the Read & React. If they can’t, then I’m going to teach them something else.”

This question or statement tells me the same thing that it did the first time I heard it. It tells me that the person asking does not understand what the Read & React is.

Before I elaborate, let me say that I understand that there are plenty of offenses out there; so many that they can’t be numbered.Read & React I also understand that championships are won on a yearly basis with offenses other than the Read & React – but that tells me nothing, because regardless of what offense is used, someone is going to win. Whether that’s a function of their offense is another matter altogether!

I also understand that some coaches don’t want to put the time into learning a new way to structure practice and a new way to manage their offense. I understand that teaching what you already know is a lot easier than learning something new.

Let me answer the question WITH a question: What ARE you going to teach them when you teach them something other than the Read & React?

Let’s look at this from another viewpoint. Regardless of what offense you choose, you will be teaching a layer or combination of layers of the Read & React. You can’t pick an offense that does something that the Read & React does not do.

Obviously, I’m writing to those coaches who are “on the fence” and can’t make a decision to mentally dive into the Read & React. For you coaches, I want to make a daring statement: Pick any traditional “offense” that you would like to see your players execute. My boast is that I can take a Read & React team, make a small verbal adjustment (in other words, no drilling, no practicing) and imitate your offense – at least the main scoring opportunities.

However, the Read & React team has one advantage over your team: If your offense doesn’t work, my Read & React team can continue to play and hunt for a scoring opportunity as a FIVE-PLAYER-COORDINATED UNIT.

Why am I so confident that I can make such a bold statement? Because the Read & React is ultimately and simply, basketball. And it contains every offensive action that can occur in the game. It doesn’t contain some of the possible offensive actions that occur in a game, it has ALL of the offensive actions. If the action is not addressed directly in a particular layer of the offense, then it can be found in a combination of layers in a particular formation.

So, when you decide to teach your team “another offense”, just remember that you would be teaching the same things in the Read & React. The difference will be that your players will have “part” of offensive basketball. They will accumulate disjointed pieces of offensive basketball. With the Read & React, they’ll learn how it all fits together, as a five-player-team, and they’ll become players instead of play-runners.

For the fence-sitters, I dare you to watch the Read & React completely through – from start to finish and open your mind to the possibility that you can learn something new, something exciting, and something that will change the way you approach the game forever.

I challenge you to join The Tribe.

10 Responses

  1. I am definitely “not on the fence” and I plan to implement the R&R this next season. I am a father of two boys and will be coaching for my third year in an urban community league (ages 10-14). My coaching is purely voluntary and our resources are minimal (i.e. gym space and practice time.)

    We have about a total of 10 games over a period of 4 months (not many, I know). The league provides the gym space for the games and a 1-hr practice immediately prior to the game. Any other times we want to practice, we as voluntary coaches, have to secure our own gym space. As you can tell, my practice time will be very limited.

    I hope to hold about 3 practices prior to our first game and then add what practices I can during the “season”.

    In your experience, how many layers should I try to implement in three (3) 1-hr practices? I plan to utilize a 90-10 plan as described on this site elsewhere. I’m guessing I won’t get much past the 2nd or 3rd layer at best.

    Any advice or guidance would be appreciated.

    1. Coach thanks for your message. As an advocate for youth basketball, we love to see that you are volunteering your time and devoted to teaching the game of basketball the right way! If those first three practices I would recommend focusing on Layers, 1 (Pass & Cut), 3, (Read Line Backdoor), and 4 (Circle Movement). Those are three of the most effective layers and will create a great foundation of Read & React for the remainder of the season. Best of Luck!

      1. Thanks for the advice! I truly hope that I can get further into the layers, but if I can get my boys to run those effectively, I think it will be a great start to a fun season.

        1. I will add to what Kyle said, but before doing so I will speak about my own experience of implementing R&R layers.

          I coach a competitive 10-11 year old boys team here in Canada. I’m very lucky to be able to have at the very minimum a 3:1 practice to game ratio. I have gym time every Tuesday (1 1/2 hours), Thursday (1 1/2 hours) and Saturday (1 1/2 hours) with the option to pick up another 2 hours on Sunday. We are allowed a total of 30 games during our season (mid October to late March) which does not include crossover games from tournaments or our end of the year provincial tournament, so in total we play about 35-40 games, which means 100+ practices over that time.

          I’ve been running R&R with this age group for 3 years now (this new season being year 3) and I have gone with Pass & Cut, Backdoor Cuts, Post Pass & Cut, Dribble-At, and finally Circle Movement. If you re-read that list, it is also posted in order of understanding by my players.

          The first 2 they picked up pretty easily and I saw it in our first games. About a month in around November, I decided to add in laker cuts which again they learned pretty fast and I saw it every time we ran with a player inside. Dribble at took a bit longer for them to understanding the proper time to use it, but with reps and seeing it work they eventually got it by Christmas.

          Now on to Circle Movement, we worked on this basically all year and I barely saw any of it in games. I get it is a tough one to learn, and it may have been my teaching method but I don’t think based on Coach Matthews allotted gym time that this layer would be the best choice to teach.

          That’s my 2-cents on what you should aim for with regards to layers.

          1. I’m reading this much later than when you posted your reply, but thank you. We are getting ready to start our season. I have two teams to work with as I have two sons in separate divisions.

            As an architect, I understand the importance of a foundation, so for sure, I’m running the basics as a start until they get those well implemented. My older son’s division, 13-14 year olds, may be able to handle the more complicated layers. We will see! Excited to get started.

          2. I also read in another article by a coach using the R&R that even when they run a 4 out – 1 in formation, they still used the same spots for a 5 out or 3 out. I’m considering this idea due to my limited practice time. Any thoughts on what could be the negatives of doing this? Spacing is too far apart for 4 out?

            I should also note that our gyms here (NYC) are usually just below regulation size so increased spacing on a 4 out using the 5 spots may not be so bad.

          3. Matthew- There is no problem using the 5 Out spots when playing 4 Out 1 In. It’s just a matter of preference. If I had to choose, it would be on the side of simplification. Keeping the same spots regardless of the number of players inside is the simplest thing to do and I don’t know of anything negative that could be a result.

  2. I want to give an update on my season thus far as I have had very interesting results. I am coaching two teams this season, one group of 11-12 year olds and the other group of 13-14 year olds. I’m having two very different experiences using the R&R offense.

    To my surprise, the younger group is actually implementing the R&R more successfully. They all seem to have embraced the offense and are using it to their benefit. So much that in 2 of my games, every player on the floor scored at least once. For this I am extremely pleased with their progress and the offense overall.

    The older team, however, is less reluctant to consistently use the R&R and have struggled. One big problem I’m having is that I have a very skilled and talented player that tends to be a ball hog. Obviously, the R&R is not built to support a ball hog, so the offense tends to breaks down. Since the rules of my league do not allow me to bench a player (everyone plays equal time) I can’t reprimand him for his selfishness.

    I was wondering if anyone would have a suggestion for how to deal with a ball hog in the R&R. My only thought is to demand that he move into a spot that he typically doesn’t occupy. He is a natural point guard, and I’m thinking that I should tell him to set up in the wing, or better yet, in the corner. The team needs his talent, but they also need to touch the ball once in awhile.

    I’m also having an issue with the lack of enthusiasm in the older group as most of them act a little “too cool for school.” This is a new problem for me as I’m growing as a coach with the age of my kids, but I think I need to adjust something in my manner with them to get them pumped more. I just haven’t seemed to reach them there yet.


    1. Coach-That is great that your younger team is thriving in the Read & React. One recommendation for your skilled player on the older team is to take him off the ball in transition and put him in a spot farther from the ball (as you mentioned). This will require him to make several cuts before touching the ball and also allow any circle movement to properly take place. You may also consider giving him a no dribble rule until he makes a certain number of passes or cuts.

      As far as creating the enthusiasm, try to find ways outside of the box to get the team to have fun while working as a team. This part of coaching is becoming far more difficult these days than teaching the X & O’s.

  3. FINAL UPDATE: Our season just ended, and both of my teams had, what I would call, a successful season. My youngest crew lost in the 2nd round of playoffs (final eight out of 18 teams) and my older crew lost in their semi-final game (final four out of 20 teams). This was my first year running the R&R and I will definitely use it again next year.

    One realization after watching the end of the season play out, is that my crews were not as skilled defensively as the other teams. I spent probably 80-90% on the offense and, in hindsight, should have spent a little more time on defense. Like I mentioned early in this thread, our teams play a total of 9 or 10 games in the season and practice time is at a minimum. But with a year under my belt in the R&R, I think I can find a way to adjust this balance.

    Overall, I’m very happy with this system and have been complimented numerous times on how well my crew played “team ball” which resulted in wins, many life lessons, and happy parents.

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