Home Forums Topics Systems & Strategies What makes great offense?

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    @Sam Allen@Tyler Coston @Lisa O’Meara @Mark Jarram and all Key5 members……..

    I want to take a deep dive this summer into what “principles” make for great offense. Not plays. Not “a” offense. What principles, habits, actions, etc….make great offense. I would love to at the end of the summer try and give them rank order. I am looking forward to this deep dive and value all of our Key5 members feedback. 

    Thanks – TJ 


    @TJ Rosene love this topic. Are you thinking more principles such as space, player movement, ball movement, control, etc.?

    Those were the first things that came to mind when you were talking offense. Not sure if that is what you were thinking or not.


    Balance. I think every offense runs better when players learn to use their athleticism to achieve balance before action, rather than acrobatics.


    @TJ Rosene @Lisa O’Meara @Sam Allen… Like it… let’s make this it’s own live learning topic and jump on a call to start the conversation!!

    The best team in our league this year are principles based.  Limited set offence, just played through principles.  Extremely tough to prepare for and play against.  It takes a very intelligent and mature team to be excellent at this, disciplined and accountable.  They must also be self regulated and growth mindset.  When say maturity, its also slow growth over the season if playing by principles so have to always have the end in mind, good patience as pursuing playing their best at the end once the principles are then engrained habits and they’ve learnt through the mistakes.  

    Good topic, let’s make it a live learning so we can start the deep dive…

    Justin Gerstung

    Good offense for us is tied to efficiency… I have had teams that put up a lot of points because their talent, skill set allows them to do so, but I have also had teams score less for the opposite reason… both teams were efficient with the ball, allowing them to ultimately be successful.  This is my challenge for this off season, to find a way to make my team more efficient… it may simply come down to growing better players.


    @TJ Rosene great topic and perfect timing for me as our season ended last week. So I  am now in the process of examining our systems and strategies from this past season. 

    When I think of Habits of Great Offense I always think of being Fundamentally sound. Coaching at the Junior High and High School levels, fundamentals are the biggest factor to being competitive on a yearly basis. That is why when I came across the Read & React Offense several years ago I incorporated  Rick Torbett’s  breakdown drills and use them on a daily basis or similar ones I have developed over the years to help develop our offensive fundamentals and habits.  

    When I think of Great Offense, these things came to mind. Not in any order of importance but I think they greatly determine the actions to use in your team’s offense. Some are determined by the skill level and types of players that make up your team

    -Offense’s ability to move the ball from side to side thus making the defense defend from sideline to sideline

    -Offense’s ability to allow the offenses to value the ball (skill level really has an big impact on this one. Highly skilled players can run a higher risk ball handling offense)

    -Offense’s ability to produce inside or paint scoring opportunities (Post ups or drives, etc..) as well as perimeter scoring opportunities.

    -Offense’s  built-in offensive rebounding 

    -Offense’s flexibility and adaptability to varying to different types of players and skill sets thus allowing varying personnel the best chance to be successful. Also, adaptability and flexibility against different defensive strategies (Passing Lane Denial, Gapped Passing Lanes, Pack Defenses, Trapping Defenses, etc..)  

    -Offense’s ability to put foul pressure on the opposition

    -Offense’s ability to create two man games and isolation opportunities within the flow of the offense

    -Offense’s ability to create quick good shots when needed but also maintain possession that can eat the clock when needed

    -Ease of flow into offense from transition 

    -Offense’s ability to create space or gaps

    I greatly look forward to diving deeper into this topic and seeing what the rest of the Key 5 community has to offer.




    wow! this is a great start. I have a question for all.. What were the 2 hardest things you had to guard this year? 




    We did not have very much success guarding the high pick and roll. Probably more our lack of defensive execution than offense over powering us. 

    We also had two teams really hurt us with this: baseline drive or wing drive into the mid-post area, both of which we stopped pretty well only to be repeatedly burned by a hard cut to the basket form the weak side wing (Villanova cut.) After that, I started drilling this with our jv team and we scored several times with this action toward the end of the season.


    During this off season I am thinking a lot about the main topic of this thread – principles that make an offense effective

    Fundamentals — given — take for fact — pretty sure Coach Harrick told us at Chicago PGC  a couple years ago that Coach Wooden spent about 1 hour of every practice on fundamentals. That being said I think this simple approach will give us an opportunity for success. 

    1) Spacing — probably the biggest difference I see between college teams, at least good ones, and high school teams is how jammed up the action is in high school. Clearly some of that is due to playing on a smaller court, but a big part is getting kids off that magnetic three point line.

    2) Purposeful  movement — hard cuts with a reason behind them. The teams that absolutely shred us simply cut harder and smarter than we do.

    3) Ball movement with the pass — ball reversals

    4) Excellent shot selection — using PGC guide — 7’s or better.

    5) Utilizes screens — particularly a variety of weak side screens – generating  cutters to the rim.

    6) Gets players in position to be fouled, and execute at the free throw line. 

    7) Utilizes more well practiced “actions” rather than set plays. More can be added as the season and scouting progresses. 

    ? Matches your personnel. 

    Tear it up Coaches. Let me know what you think.





    Honestly, we were not a quality defensive team this year as our young players really got taken advantage of, but Multiple actions ran together gave us the most problems.  Examples being a slot or side ball screens with a pin screen or back pick for the screener or dribble handoffs into a ball screen.  We would defend the first action well and then have a breakdown on the backend or not defend the initial action very well because we were worried about the second action. 


    those are all great thoughts. I think the middle ball screen gave us the most trouble (a single action). Teams that can stack action tend to be the hardest to guard.



    The middle ball screen is probably the single most action that gives everyone trouble, especially if they have the right personnel operating the right spots. Then it is a pick your poison. @TJ Rosene I know this is an offensive post but what strategies did you try to employ against the middle ball screen action?


    i like all the above things, so i’ll just add some little intangible “Offensive Principles” that are tough to defend:

    1. Offensive Patience. we are an up-tempo, pressing team and when teams are able to defeat the pressure and just relax and run their stuff in the halfcourt that can be tough. They understand basketball is a game of runs and they aren’t speeding up because they may be on the wrong side of the run. 

    2. Offensive Intelligence. along with patience, I think the other thing we have troubles with are High IQ teams. they easily defeat any zone traps or zone sets and can diagnose the defense and react. 

    3. Composure. similar to the above. teams just are composed at the end of quarters. Hold the ball for the last shot every time and execute a nice play to finish the quarter with a basket. They rarely seem to be in a hurry to get the last shot off. Everyone knows what to do as the clock is running down. 



    Thank you for putting this topic together!  I was watching your live learning about offensive strategies and systems.  You talked about your teams T-action offense…if the post isn’t deep enough to score that you automatically go into T-action.  One teammate goes opposite block, opposite corner, top of the key, and 90 degree.  Can you help me understand the 90 degree?  I wasn’t tracking with you on that…

    Thank you for all that you and your team at Key5 do and offer for us coaches.  Really appreciate it!




    Hey @Wayne Lee Thanks for your question. Alignment:

    Post feed–Laker cut. Alignment= O1: Top of the key. O2: Opposite wing. O3: Opposite corner. O4: Laker cutter opposite block/short corner. O5: Has ball in post.

    Full transparency, it may be closer to 45 degrees than 90… or just 45, geometry and grammar were not my best subjects. @Joe Gonzalez – (updated response)


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