Layer 4 is NOT about Dribble Penetration. You can dribble penetrate at any time in any offense. But that usually means the end of the offense.

Layer 4 in the Read & React is about how the offense continues if Dribble Penetration fails or Penetrate, Draw the Defense, and Pass does not produce a shot.

I don’t think most understand WHY we Circle Move on Dribble Penetration in the Read & React. Here’s why:

Elementary Reason: Receivers moving vs standing are harder to guard.

Advanced Reason: Defensive help and rotation moves in the opposite direction as Circle Movement.

Engineering Reason: What if the drive fails or what if the drive and pass fails to produce a scoring opportunity? The reason to Circle Move is to continue action with another Layer of the R&R if the drive fails. That requires everyone to be on SPOTS. (All layers START on spots and END on spots in order to have continuous linkage of layers or basketball actions.)

When I was first engineering the Read & React (8 years ago), we did not Circle Move when someone Dribble Penetrated. That produced a problem: The empty spot from where penetration occurred was being filled by the next player (due to the habit of Layer 1) and the spot behind the filler was being filled, etc. That meant some were moving on the perimeter while others were not. The spots that were not being filled were the highest percentage passing windows (the Natural Pitches). My solution was to require EVERYONE on the perimeter to move one spot in the direction of the drive: REACTORS (those without the ball) have one reaction for one read – this would be consistent with the design of Read & React.

Again, the spot left empty by the dribble penetrator is going to be filled because of Layer 1. So, training the habit of moving one spot in the direction of the penetration is mostly directed at those in the Natural Pitch direction – usually only one or two players. The Safety Valve is going to be filled thanks to Layer 1!

The icing on the cake of Circle Movement is: if everyone moves one spot, then the penetrator has an empty spot in which he/she can “bounce off” into in case their drive fails. (It’s the spot vacated by the Natural Pitch.) This allowed penetrators to choose a better option if their drive failed (rather than pick up the ball, make a bad pass, or force a bad shot. This allows the action to START on spots and END on spots – if the drive fails. From there, any new action can be chosen and our flow of attack can continue.


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  1. Clara says:

    Rick, thanks again, for helping us not only know what to do but why we do it.

  2. HOGEFAN says:

    For youth basketball when much of the passing is typically to a player who is not moving, the ability to drive, attract attention from the drive, and pass to a space rather than to a static player offers a huge advantage against a defense focused mainly on stopping the ball. Being able to drive and send a bounce pass near the short corner while a player from the corner is coming across to meet the ball should provide many uncontested layups…especially when low post defenders like to creep toward the action when there’s nobody posting up down low.

    And then you have a drive from the wing, dishing it to the post player who is moving to short corner. Again, passing to a spot rather than to a player, all while the defense is focused on the ball handler, offers a great chance at an easy shot.

    I can think of no other offense where the ball handler knows where all four other players on his offense will be when he drives.

  3. Hugo-Boisvert says:

    Hi Coach, the one problem I have with circle movement in a 5 out formation is the baseline cutter on a drive from the top or the wing. I would like to know your take on this and mostly how you teach the timing to prevent the cutter from being in the way of the penetrator.

  4. balawrence says:

    Hugo-Boisvert: Same question. I’m installing RnR for first time now, too, and my players are asking the same question. The baseline cutter is bringing his defender with him, into the area of the drive, effectively clogging the paint. This seems counterintuitive.