The rumors are true: there are now 20 layers in the Read & React Offense.

Here’s what happened. We released the Read & React over two years ago to tremendous fanfare and excitement (just kidding). Since its release, we’ve put on several basketballclinics, appeared at a bunch of coaching conventions, answered a lot of emails, and created first the Read & React Blog and now the Tribe. Basically, we’ve spent the last two years teaching (and learning from) coaches around the world in a variety of ways.

So, in preparation for our upcoming clinics, we took the best of what we learned from those experiences and integrated it into the R&R. The result, a few new layers.

What are the new layers?

First of all, there are really only two new layers. The third came as a result of splitting Post Passing into two layers: Post Pass & Cut (North-South) and Post Pass & Cut (East-West). This makes it easier for lower level teams or teams just learning to get into post passing without having to learn too much at once. Sure, you can still teach them together, but we’ve chosen to split them up (just like Post Slides).

That accounts for one additional layer.

The second is the Ball Screen or Reverse Dribble and we’ve been offering this up as an option for a while now and decided to make it an official layer.

It works like this:

When the ball handler reverses his or her dribble away from the goal, basically a Power-Back Dribble, it’s a signal for a Sprint Ball Screen. It’s a signal for your post player to sprint to the ball and set a screen. Everyone else should fill up and get ready to Circle Move in whatever direction the ball-handler uses the pick.

It’s possible that you might not want to bring another defender into the ball handler’s space. If that’s the case, then you won’t use this Layer. On the other hand, you might be a pick-n-roll maniac and you want this action in your offense as soon as possible. If that’s the case, then you could put it in right after Layer 4 Circle Movement!

If you’re 3 OUT 2 IN, perhaps you’ll designate the post player that you want setting the pick. Or, perhaps you tell them that the closest post sets the screen. It could simply be the first post to recognize the Reverse Dribble. Those decisions are up to you. You know your personnel.

If you’re in a 5 OUT formation, then the closest player will set the ball screen.

I know this question will come up: What side should the screen be set on? Or is this a flat screen? Personally, I think you should sprint to a flat position, let the ball-handler set up the defender, and then change the angle of the screen at that time. You may have reasons to do it differently, so use it the way you see fit.

That should be enough excitement for now. I’ll explain the final new layer in an upcoming post, but please let me know your thoughts about this layer. Have you already incorporated it? Are you going to?

By the way, now when your non-R&R friends say they don’t like the Read & React “because there aren’t any ball screens”, you can just shake your head, laugh, and point them to this layer. Of course, we know that the Power Dribble Layer has basically been a pick and roll all along, but that will be our secret.

17 Responses

  1. A few reads and reactions to consider:

    If the ballscreener’s defender steps over the read line: abort the ball screen and read line cut?

    If the ballhandler’s defender is well above the read line, pass and cut?

  2. We have utilized the R&R with our girls club ball team for the past three years. Our opponents are usually more physical and more athletic than us, but our up-tempo, full court pressing style allows us to not only be competitive, but allows to win the majority of our ball games. However, our biggest asset is our ability to successfully run our half court offense using R&R principles.

    Regarding the “Circle Reverse”… We simply tell our players to read the area, as in layer seven. If the player with ball dribbles at her teammate between the READ line and LANE line, she automatically executes a “Circle Reverse” move. An outside hand-off/flip exchange is executed and we play on. We will also utilize a “trigger” call, which directs our plays to execute a “Circle Reverse” movement. We have found this particular movement is very difficult for teams to defend. The initial ball handler is a “Natural” screener, which at times she can execute a pick and roll or pick and pop after handing the ball off. We have “trigger” calls for all of LAYERS.

  3. It would seem to me that the ball screen on a power back dribble would seem like an alternative to circle reverse motion on a failed north-south drive. Both could be used in the same offense, but it seems to me that drilling one or the other as an immediate counter to failed penetration would be effective

  4. I like the sprint ballscreen, it’s much better than the regular one. I’m not a big fan of ballscreens because it draws another defender to the ballhandler and the defense makes it tough when switching, doubleteaming or hedging

    1. You make a point that I would like to comment on. Some coaches are like yourself while others are ball-screen-maniacs. This is a decision that each coach must make on their own. Here’s my bigger point:

      The following Layers of the Read & React are Foundational, i.e., they are NECESSARY in order to coordinate your team’s actions in such a way that they can continue to play in an unbroken stream of actions:
      PASS & CUT
      SPEED DRIBBLE (or Dribble-At)
      (On some levels, I would include PIN & SKIP and CIRCLE REVERSE)

      The remaining Layers of the Offense are SUPPLEMENTAL. They are SUFFICIENT but NOT NECESSARY for running the Read & React. In other words, coaches can choose to use some, all, or none of the remaining Layers.

      The reasons why are not important. What’s important is that the coach views themselves as an OPERATOR of the Read & React. The Foundational Layers are like a Computer Operating System. The remaining Layers are like “plug-ins”. They ENHANCE the offense, but they are not necessary.

      After implementing the Read & React, the next step for the coach is to learn how BEST to operate the system given
      1. The type of players on his/her team
      2. The level of the opponents
      3. Even the coach’s overall philosophy about the game

  5. The “sprint to the ball” words are the key in the “sprint to the ball and set a screen” comment. It makes it difficult for the screener defender to hedge or trap and allows for easier penetration.

    I was wondering if an intentional dribble handoff/screen should be included as a layer or part of a layer. The better way to describe it would be as “an intentional circle reverse” and not like a power dribble. The circle reverse is taught as a solution to a failed north/south penetration and the reads do change slightly. After installing the intentional dribble handoff/screen as a way to kick start our 5 out movement my team surprisingly became more confident in reading and executing true circle reverses.

    1. Good point about the “sprint”. It reduces the communication time of the defense.

      I don’t understand the difference between your “intentional circle reverse” and the current Power Dribble. The Power Dribble tells the player being dribbled-at to “circle reverse” to the outside for a hand-off-pick-and-roll. Can you explain what would be the difference?

      1. The three main differences would be:
        – the speed of the execution
        – the focus of the defense
        – not teaching the “intentional circle reverse” as a pressure relief move.

        The Power Dribble has proven to be an effective pressure relief move especially for my bigger players. I understand that this triggers a circle reverse move by the player being dribbled at, but often times it can be overly deliberate with the side step, back to the basket dribble. The on-the-ball defender has time to “see it coming” and can easily hedge and recover (or trap). But the primary purpose of the Power Dribble is pressure relief.

        Similarly, the Circle Reverse (Layer 7) is a pressure relief move that is taught as a reaction to a failure. The “intentional Circle Reverse and screen” I was trying to describe has the speed of a north/south penetration but with the ballhandler facing and dribbling directly at the receiver’s defender. This dictates just how much east/west it becomes. Because of the speed of the dribble the on-the-ball defender is focused on staying between his man and the basket with lateral movement and is not in a position to hedge on the receiver after the flip/screen. Most times the defender does not see “it” coming – that he is actually guarding the screener.

        Since my original comment was under the “Ball Screen” posting I thought that the flip/screen could be included in the new Ball Screen layer or as part of the Circle Reverse layer. If under the Ball Screen layer it would work well with the Sprint Ball Screen concept. The option I am describing is simply a Sprint Dribble Flip and Screen.

        It could also work well under the Circle Reverse layer. The Circle Reverse movement is very effective but, again, taught in Layer 7 as a reaction to a failure. I think that teaching it also as an intentional move with the addition of the flip/screen would be invaluable. In short, it is another type of ball screen that makes it difficult for the defense to hedge, trap, or switch.

        1. Mike: I wanna see if I understand you correctly, what you’re talking about is making a failed attempt at north/south drive on purpose, then passing to your closest teammate who will circle reverse and then screen your teammate’s defender immediately, and perhaps combine that with a seal and roll to the hoop or a fill out? Seems like a good idea

          1. Blue: Correct!

            A failed attempt at north/south penetration occurs when the ballhandler has been “flattened out” in an east/west direction. Rick refers to this as a “wide U” instead of a sharp “V” to the basket. So “intentionally” dribbling at your closest (right or left) teammate’s defender will determine just how flat the east/west direction becomes. The dribble speed needs to be quick and the ballhandler should be prepared to jumpstop as he approaches the receiver’s defender in order to set a solid, wide screen. The receiver still starts in a circle movement but then reverses direction to receive the flip pass and screen. If you review the Layer 7 footage you will notice that everytime the ballhandler flips the ball to the receiver he “sidesteps” out of the path of the receiver’s defender. This could be an opportunity to jumpstop in the path and set a screen.

            I have found that it is a great way to “kick start” a 5 Out set. This is especially true if you want the benefits of north/south penetration but do not have the players to perform and finish it consistently without a little help. Most often this “intentional Circle Reverse with screen” will lead to successful north/south penetration from the wing because the receiver has a “running start” and a “screen with no hedging” to work with.

            Hope this helps!

        2. OK. My next question is similar. How would the player being dribbled-at determine whether its a SPEED DRIBBLE (which means I should cut to the basket) or whether its your SPRINT DRIBBLE FLIP & SCREEN (which means I should come behind the ball for a ball screen)?

          1. We have taught our players that a SPEED DRIBBLE should be the “read” if the ball is dribbled “at you” or “outside of you.” If the ball is dribbled “at your defender” the read triggers the SPRINT DRIBBLE FLIP & SCREEN action. With our perimeter players positioned a solid 3-4 feet past the read line dribbling at a defender will be “inside” the receiver. However, if the defender is in full denial and not looking to help on penetration then the rule regarding the read line takes precedent – basket cut.

            If we use the action to kick start our 5 Out set then the players already know that it is coming. They would start their circle movement and then reverse to receive the flip pass and screen.

            Again, my original post was in reference to what I would refer to as “approved ball screening” actions. I competely agree with the Sprint Ball Screen concept. What I am suggesting is that a ballhandler could also execute a similar action by Sprint Dribbling. Having played professionally in Europe for a number of years I know firsthand that it is difficult to hedge on a Sprint Ball Screen and even more difficult to hedge on a screen that comes as a result of a ballhandler screening “after sprint dribbling and flipping” the ball to someone that has just Circle Reversed.

            I still believe that this movement could be taught as a part of your new Sprint Ball Screen layer or as an addition to Layer 7.


          2. Thanks for the explanation Mike! Not only does it clear it up for me, but you’re right about the difficulty in hedging on a Sprint Ball Screen. By the way, isn’t it amazing at how much better things work (along with more options) the greater your spacing is! 3-4 feet from the Read Line – I love it! This is a great example of what I predicted would happen if I could get this “operating system” into the hands of coaches like yourself. I predicted that you would see things that I havent’ and ways to operate the offense that I would never think of. It just keeps getting better! Thanks!

  6. I believe Better Basketball is going to put out a new DVD late this summer on Layers 18, 19 and 20. We are looking looking forward to studying these new concepts in depth. Also, we can hardly wait for you guys to put on an Advanced Read and React clinic in the Pacific Northwest or British Columbia, Canada, where we can hear these concepts explained and demonstrated in person.

    1. I’m working around the clock this summer – that’s all I say at the moment (how’s that for a tease?!) Regarding a clinic in the Pacific Northwest: I have one scheduled for July 24, 25 in Vancouver. Go the website and look for Read & React Clinics for details. Ask and you will receive….

  7. I hadn’t heard about this layer, but was just drilling the other day and told my post player that during the drill to just this! The read and react continues to get better and better and your posts on this sight are great! Thank you for improving the game, my coaching and my players game!!

    1. Thanks Jesse. But I can’t take credit for this one. Over the last two years, coaches have given me all kinds of feedback and one of these was “The Reverse Dribble”. (My only regret is that I’ve lost the coach’s email. Otherwise, I would give him credit. Hopefully, he’ll read this and let me know.) If the ballhandler “Power Dribbles backwards, i.e., toward the half-line, the post or closest player sprints to give a ball screen. Everyone else fills empty spots on the perimeter to get ready to Circle Move when the ball comes off the screen. If the pick and roll / penetrate and pitch gives you nothing, then no worries – action can continue with any Layer of the Read & React that the players choose. That’s why this “Reverse Dribble – Pick n Roll” can be added at the coach’s discretion: It’s SUFFICIENT to enhance your offense (if you like ball screens), but it’s not NECESSARY for running the offense. It can be added anytime after a team has implemented the two foundation layers: PASS & CUT and CIRCLE MOVEMENT.

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