I am often asked to explain what the Read and React is. As the Read and React has evolved, so has my answer. This video provides my latest thoughts. Let me know what you think.

Like what you see? Find out more at http://readandreact.com

58 Responses

  1. Laughing. “… quickly explain what the Read and React is…” in just 25:27 minutes! 😉

    All teasing aside, that was a great video. I was very fond of the principles explained at the beginning too, like playing a 5 man game, in multiple formations and with our best personnel. Nice job, Rick.

  2. Well done! Also things that needed to be said were said very eloquently. I’ve never understood why some people wanted to make a hybrid out of such a pure system as the Read & React. Kudos, and well done, again!

  3. I really like the concept of the decision box. As a visual learner, it helped me to see the big picture of the offense more clearly, and will help me to be a better teacher of the game. In our program, we really try to emphasize the parallel between playing basketball by principle and living life the same way. Thanks.

  4. The R&R is a system for teaching the fundamentals of basketball offense, in layers. One of the things I really appreciate about it is that all the player movements or reactions have been mapped out for me to take a team from the beginner level all the way up to the highly proficient; it’s just up to me, as coach, to implement the system and not devise a system. I really like the R&R system.

    I would be interested to know how you came to the idea of limiting the perimeter passer to a single option (basket cut; and in some cases x cut). Earlier in your career did you pass and screen away? What was the genesis of resolving that having only the basket cut option was the best approach for teaching the fundamentals of offense?


    1. Limiting the perimeter passer to a single option (basket cut) stems from making the ball-handler the DECISION-MAKER. One decision-maker at a time is the only way to engineer 5-player-coordination. Otherwise, as an example, the ball-handler will see an opening and drive, only to be messed up by a teammate who independently cuts into the same area at the same time.

      For that reason, when you give up the ball (pass), you give up the ability to make a decision. However, I don’t want players to view “passing the ball” as a negative, so I required the basket cut for several reasons:

      1. With the lane as the DECISION BOX for players without the ball, a basket cutter can get back all the decisions that I took away when they passed the ball. So, cutting to the basket becomes an easy “sell”: If you want the decisions back, then make your basket cut and you can have them back once your feet are in the lane.

      2. Guarding a North-South cut is more difficult for the defense than an East-West cut (like screening away). Not only is it more difficult for the defender of the cutter, it also puts pressure on weakside defenders to guard the rim.

      3. And finally, the player who passes has an immediate possible chance of scoring – getting the ball back – with a front cut or rear cut. Passing the ball, or sharing the ball, becomes a positive thing: an immediate chance to score and a chance to make a decision without the ball, once they get into the lane. Teamwork is engineered into the system without calling it teamwork.

  5. sadly, I can’t convince the varsity coach to try the Read and React for an entire season. She lets me use it at the lower level, 46-2 over the past 3 three seasons, but panics and goes back to pass and stand offense after one bad game or practice. Varsity – .500 at best. What to do?

    1. Wow – you would think a 46-2 record would do the trick! Congratulations by the way.

      I don’t know what it takes to make the switch. If I did, I would walk coaches through it. All I know is that is takes a “paradigm shift” in the way you view the game, how to teach it, and how to coach it.

      I have a few more short videos where I tell the Read & React Origin story, etc. When I post them, you can keep sending them to her. Maybe something will click with one of them.

  6. Since we just played our first RR JV game, this will really help us. I love this idea of the decision box. We had trouble keeping the passers cutting. Now that I understand to teach them about this idea that when they cut they get to make the decision, I think they will be more willing to keep cutting… which seemed to wear off as they got tired. We worked more from the idea that the ball handler made the decisions.

    1. The timing is uncanny! I wish more coaches and players would pay attention to that aspect. The Read & React basket cutter might be the best Offensive Rebounding move that can be taught to a player!

      1. Thanks, I am convinced. Now my question is when they cut should they try to cut infront of the defense deep in the lane or as often happens they get behind the defense and don´t seem to get open for a pass or loose the atempted pass? We need a LOT of practice passing into the cutter with defense all over them. I have tall kids for their age and they think they can stand under the basket and get a pass with their finger nails. I am working more on cutting and posting up. Just need more time. So many pieces to put together. What I like best is that everyone learns to work in the post. In practice we use rotation drills. But in our first game we had problem once the ball was shot and missed. What I hate is standing under the basket so long, because they are the tallest one on the floor. Even the other players get upset with that stationary post player.

  7. Well, I had to adjust R&R to my team but in this video I have seen the new post spots that I have “came-up” with so technically I just did a good thing that I thought wasn’t in the system but it actually is!
    Great video! As always, to watch someone passionate about what they speak is a time spent well. As I grow older and wiser as a coach (you might remember me being very skeptical on the forums) I start to understand the genius behind the simplicity. And that’s how it’s suppose to be!


  8. Response to:
    MJL23 December 25, 2012 at 1:44 am
    ……… I start to understand the genius behind the simplicity.
    And that’s how it’s suppose to be!

    Remember Rick Torbett was a Math teacher also. He has put together this Read and React like you would teach math… 1+1=2, 1+2=3, or even 1+1+1=3 etc. that is how I explain this system to my players and others. Later you teach 10-X=9, what is the value of X? That still is very easy if taught at the right stage of learning. How deep does the Rabbit hole go… I don´t think even Rick Torbett can tell us. Thanks SO VERY MUCH for letting us all in on your Read and React system Rick, Most coaches would keep it to themselves. It´s like the man who found a pearl in a field, he cover it up and then later went back to buy the field so he could own the pearl. You have given us the field with the pearl; we just need to uncover it, polish it and protect it with great care. A gift that keeps on giving.

    1. Thanks Clara!
      It’s a great game when we take the handcuffs off players and empower them to play as a team. And it’s just as exciting to see coaches realize what’s at their fingertips; that is, what they can give their players.
      And by the way, in every case I’ve seen, the Read & React changes the relationship between the coach and their players. Even if the relationship was good, it becomes better! It’s one more thing I should spend time exploring.

  9. Re:
    “tim December 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm
    sadly, I can’t convince the varsity coach to try the Read and React for an entire season.”

    Tim, I think a coach needs to decide if they are training players to play basketball for the individual players future … or if they are training to win games for that coach. RR trains players to play principled basketball anywhere they go. It gives them a future, they are not tied down to playing set plays, at set times with a certain coach and combination of team mates. The coach needs to train “a player” to understand how to function outside of their own system. What is my job and goal as a life-coach, to win games, or to mold youth?

    We CAN do both, and RR gives us that open door. RR builds a players Basketball IQ and we send them on their way at graduation; knowing they know how to play basketball any where they go.. be it to college, NBA, WNBA, a recreational street game or in China.

    The time will come Tim. Remember, “A person convinced against their will, is of the same opinion still.” I still feel the key question is …Am I focused on winning games or training and forming lives? Where are my values placed?

  10. First season using R&R with 11-13yr olds in Sheffield UK. Found this website helps a lot to sort out wrinkles or misunderstandings – thanks. This new video and the concept of a decision box is great. But if playing 5 out, doesn’t a player without the ball also have to read his/her defender and back cut if the defender’s feet are on/over the 3 point arc – is that not a decision or is it another reaction? (I appreciate that the post is ‘big picture’ and does not go into the finer details). Overall, I love the fact that I don’t have to spend time in practice coaching offensive ‘sets’ any more – coaching the ‘hows’ flows into the ‘whats’ from the very start with beginners – and as Rick says, you can have a real mix of ability on the court without sabotaging the whole team.

    1. Tom

      One of the rules of the R&R is that if you are one pass or spot away from the ball and your defender steps over the read line then you must read line cut. You have no choice, this is a reaction you must do regardless of formation. It is not just a reaction for 5OUT, it applies to any formation you want to use.

    2. Tom,
      You’re right – cutter must decide whether to front cut or rear cut, but the decision about WHETHER to cut, screen away, stay, go screen on the ball, etc., has been taken away.

      I would categorize this as HOW to cut rather than a decision, but we’re splitting hairs at this point.

      If you want to know of EXCEPTIONS to the rule about “decision-making”, I’ll give a couple. They both come from feeding the post. In the early stages of Read & React (Layer 2), when you pass to the post, you must “DECIDE” whether to Laker Cut High or Low. When you get to Layer 13, the post-feeder must decide between 4 options:
      1. Laker Cut High (Layer 2)
      2. Laker Cut Low (Layer 2)
      3. X-Cut or X-Screen a teammate and then basket cut (Layer 13)
      4. Re-Locate to an open perimeter Spot – when no one is there to screen (Layer 13)

      There’s always an exception to the rule, isn’t there?!

  11. I really like the breaking down R&R into the What, How and Who that you do at the end of this video. I have been hesitant at going deeper into the layers because I have a lot of kids that simply are not ready to do more than the first four layers…but I really want the screening actions. I have looked at just using quick hitters to get my screening action, because it gave me more control. However thinking about it this way makes me realize I CAN go deeper with my higher IQ players. The other player reactions don’t change….but I can give more options to the players capable of reading the defense and making good decisions about who, where and when to screen without overwhelming the players who are not there yet. It also lets me have more layers in place early when I have returning players. New players stick with the simple stuff at first and my returning players can carry over what they learned the year before. Thanks for turning on some more light bulbs!

  12. My head coach and I are implementing the read & react offense. We have inherited a JV team that is very, very unfundamentally sound at the basic skills of basketball (ie. dribbling, passing under pressure, keeping your head up…etc.) With the need to focus so much on these fundamentals, along with defensive fundamentals and tactics, we go back & forth on whether we have the time it takes to implement this offense. I feel we do have the time. We may not get to where we want to be exactly with this offense by season’s end but we will begin to develop a foundation! If we spend a half hour each day drilling and developing the R & R offense as a whole, along with working on fundamental skills offensively and defensively, are we doing this offense justice? Should we hold off until we feel we have developed the skills necessary to run the R & R?

    1. You want to build the skills USING the R&R drills. I think the best way to make learning the offense effective for you players is to go all out and use it for everything. You just alter the focus of the drills to suit the fundamental you are working on at that time. The practice planning DVD’s really help with that part. I would have done my practices this year entirely different had I seen the practice planning DVD’s before my season. The point is that EVERY drill should reinforce the R&R principles if you want to compress the learning process.

    2. Hey Tim,

      Your situation seems familiar with the sitaution I am in. The good thing is that the read and react is taught in layers. Just take the time you need with every layer. Another goog thing is that with layer one pass & cut you have everything you need for a basic offense which is spacing and player movement. If you want to play with a post player just implent layer 2.
      You canwork on these layers while working on the foundamentals aswell. For example: Go 5-Out and let them pass & cut and put a focus on the fundamental you want to coach. Tell them to get in the Triple Threat-Position when they catch the Ball or let them do a high or low sweep before they pass.You can put in a defense aswell

    3. No Tim, don’t wait. The players need CONTEXT when you are trying to teach them how to pass under pressure, when, where, and how to dribble (Dribble At, Power Dribble, North-South Drive, Reverse Dribble), keeping your head up (“What for coach?” A: “To see the cutter!”)

      This is similar to teaching Defense. I have coaches who complain that they don’t have time to put in the Read & React because they are working so much on Defense. My question is always, “Are you working 0 on 5?” If not, what offense are you working against? You can’t work on defense unless you have an offense to guard! Take one practice and put in the first 3 layers of the R&R and afterwards you can work on defense all day long while your offense is getting reps of the first 3 layers!

  13. Tim

    The Read & React Offense builds players skills while also building the offense. It’s also a great shell offense for working on team defense. The reaction drills, for example the front cut drill, makes the players work on chest passes, bounce passes, lay-ups, defensive stance one on one, close out, catching passes etc…..all at one time

    1. You’re right Lars! I can take 10 players and work on the Read & React, Player Fundamentals, and Team Defense ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Just tell the defense to not touch the ball and tell the offense to call out “SHOT” when they think they have one, but don’t shoot it and keep the action going.

      If I want a lot of shots, I can get them with the Reaction Drills of the Read & React. Add dummy defense to the drills and I once again get to work on the offense, defense, player development AND get in all the shots we need.


  14. Rick,

    This video was great and has allowed me to share the system with other coaches in my age group.

    Is it possible to get something similar for Dynamic Defense?


  15. Hi Rick,
    I just introduced the R&R to my team and have introduced the first 2 layers & the team is picking it up quickly. Can you give an example of how the 3-2 would work? If you choose the 3-2 formation, does this mean you always designate 2 people to be in post spots or is 3-2 just a formation that occurs while starting in the 5 out format?

  16. I started the guys off on the R&R, level 1 last night. I was wondering, is there a booklet of some sorts (PDF, etc) either available or in discussion for the near future that covers the teaching steps shown in the DVD’s? The DVD’s move along pretty quickly and it would be nice for Old Salt’s like me to be able to read along with what is happening on the DVD. It is an awesome offense and I want to do it justice in my teaching. Let me know if there are any pointers out there for easing this transition. Thanks again.

    Coach Mac

  17. I am very intrested in running this R&R offense with my new 10U AAU team that I will be coaching, but my question is do you think they are to young to run this offense? Just want your opinion since my other coach is skeptical. Thanks in advance!

    1. John,

      I’m using it with 9-10 yr olds and having some great success. In fact, the kids love it and, just as importantly, so do the parents.

      We’ve only introduced Pass-cut, Laker cut low, dribble at, back-cuts on overplay and the safety valve concept for when they penetrate.

      has worked a treat.


      1. Are you running the 5 out or 4 out 1 in? I have also been tryin to run the first layer in the 5 out formation. In practice it looks great but as soon as we are in a game situation it’s like they forgot everything they learned in practice lol I guess repetition is key !

      2. I am currently running R&R with my 10u girls team. It took lots of reps because they are used to pass and watch. This is the first year with this group and I too had a very skeptical coach because his girl played on the high school team and the 16, 17 years took half the season to get the basics. We just put in 1, 2, 3, and 5 and concentrated on flowing into different formations. He was afraid we would not get the individual drill work done but it is incorporated into the drills. Post drop steps, shot fake then pass or shot fake and dribbile toward the back. all with-in the drills. We did heavy off drills for 4 weeks, two practices, two hours each. We did front cut for 10 mins, read cut 10 mins and so forth. Now, we are hard into def and tranistion and press and we just need to do a warm up for our offense and we cane get to business in 10 mins.

  18. Quick question, when players are two or more passes away and their defenders are smothering them or denying them the ball, do you still recommend read line rear cutting?

    1. If they are doing that and it is man defense, go 5 out, green and look for draft drives. Don’t have them cut because it puts more players in the paint. You are looking for the paint to be open. If they are putting that pressure on the players one pass away, they should cut but now the two passes away now fills and can now cut. Otherwise you have 8 players in the paint and nowhere to drive.

    2. The read line cut only applies one spot/pass away from the ball, or else spacing and coordination will be lost. If an offensive player two passes away is defended tight the ball handler or basket cutter should have good space to get to the rim

  19. First year implementing R&R with 10U team. We have put in layers 1, 2, 3 and 5. We have taught dribble penetration rotation just as if the player did a Laker cut. Not all the players move but we are getting the safety and our post slides. Even with just these layers, we have 4 quick hitters to have a certain person get a shot that has counters (or reads) that all flow within R&R. I have only played pick up ball as a youth and never coached basketball. I did have a young daughter who started playing 4 years ago and found myself on the internet looking for basketball skill development dvd’s when I stumbled onto Better Basketball. As a none player or coach, it just made sense. Then R&R came out. It has taken a guy like me with no basketball background and turned me into an elementary school coach, city league coach and a travel ball coach. I even have vet coaches asking me strategies and how to train players. And some people think I have been coaching for years but it is all from the knowledge of Better Basketball. Thank you Rick and team for educating all of us in a profession we love.

    1. I also forgot to mention that we use the color codes to get certain actions and we can flow from 5 out to 4 out or 3 out. We have a 3 low formation where we try to get laker cuts against a 2-3 zone. 3 high where post on elbows are screening def guards in an odd set and a 3 high low if we want to try to get a duck in play in the paint. Lots of different formations for different situations and we still get SAQ drills in also.

        1. Not on paper but will share. If we go 3 high. we just bring our two post players up to the elbow and our cutters touch the short corner before getting out. We want to bring the three low defenders up the lane. We may have ball side post come out to set a ball screen but we want the illusion that all the action is up top. then we will get a forward to creep up wanting a piece and we hit the guard cutting to the short corner and layup. On our three low, we drop both post to short corner. we really just try to hit laker cuts out of the short. We also have our guards touch ball side elbow on there cuts. This way when we feed the short corner, we laker cut. if the ball side defender plays the cutter or drops to double team the post, we have the guard at the elbow for an easy jumper, plus the third guard is filling the safety valve on the outside. 3 high low is to get combos of both but we like to keep low post week side for rebounding and if the high post gets the ball, the low looks for a duck in. we are a 10u girls team so pin and skip is hard to do right with our team. but we can stretch a 2-3 def into a 2-1-2 and we can use that better for us. hope that helps alittle.

  20. I am looking to put in the R&R for my program this summer. I see us running it in the 4-1 format. My question is that my 5 man is probably our best player and i don’t want him just stuck on one side of the floor. Whats the best way to get him from side to side without clogging things up? My initial thought way to say that he could change sides only after a basket cut opposite him. Ex: opposite wing passes to opposite corner and then basket cuts. If he doesn’t receive pass post can come across posting hard.

    1. Where does the 5 man play? High Post or Mid Post?

      My team plays 4-out most of the time. If the 5 man is in the high post, he screens the cutters from the top and shapes to the ball after that. So he actually helps those cutters to get open for a lay up.

      If the 5 man is in the low post, you could use the cutter who passes to the wing to screen for the 5 man after his cut. There are some advantages. If the wing penetrates after he receives the pass the 5 man is in the ideal position for a open lay up on a messed up help defense. The screen could lead to a switch or a open lay up. As long as he is on the weak side there is enough room for dribble penetration or easy give and go baskets.

  21. I’m a Head Women’s College Basketball Coach. We have been running the Dribble Drive for 5 years, I am looking at making a change and the Read and React is offense I am really looking into. I will have really good point guard play with quickness and slashing ability, several big guards that can shoot the 3 as well as post up and athletic undersized posts that run and jump well but lack “Back to the basket” scoring.

    I want to play fast, really fast.

    What is your advice for me if I choose to move forward with the R&R?

  22. Great stuff Rick………We’re going to give it a try up here in Massachusetts this season. Love the concept of the Decision Box !!
    Thanks for sharing.

  23. Rick,

    My name is Bruce Robbins and I have been coaching high school basketball for 29 years with 21 of those years as head coach. For all 21 years as a head coach I have run motion offense the way it is taught by Bob Knight. No set plays, one offense against every defense, the use of alignments to fit my players strengths (Five Man, Regular (4 around 1), Post Exchange (3 around 2), Triangle Tight (2 around 3 with the 3 working in the lane area), Triangle Wide (2 around 3 with the 3 working all over the floor below the 3 point line) and Pairs (2 screeners working with 3 cutters), and the ability to put players in positions where they could play to their strengths and away from their weaknesses.

    I have been reading about and studying your read and react offense (including watching the video above) and I have questions about flexibility, questions concerning how read and react is superior to Knight’s style of Motion, and questions about what I view as an over-reliance on the use of the dribble.

    I was wondering if you could take the time to make a case for convincing me that running Read and React is superior to a Knight styled Motion Offense.

    Thank you for your time,
    Bruce Robbins

    1. Bruce – This could become a great dialogue! But let me say up front that I don’t want to get into any kind of comparison between me and Coach Knight! (And I know that’s not what you said – you’re talking about systems, but it’s easy for coaches to take things personal and get defensive!) Coach Knight has forged his reputation and record in the fires of Division I basketball for 43 years. He has left a mark on basketball that will go beyond his lifetime, and the coaches that he has produced reads like a basketball Who’s Who! I’ve been trying to learn from Coach Knight since I started coaching in 1979!

      So please, no comparison between me and Coach Knight. I’m just a former player and former high school coach who is fascinated and privileged to be a student of the game with a platform to pass on what I’m learning. Unlike Coach Knight, the only way I’ll see the inside of the Hall of Fame is with a ticket!

      By the way, I’m still hoping to make a connection with him at some point. I dream of explaining how the Read & React is engineered and then asking him how he would OPERATE it. Can you imagine what would come out of his brain?!

      With that being said, I’ll point out the differences. However, you can help me with this by answering the following questions:
      1. You seem to be concerned with the LACK of Flexibility with Read & React. Could you elaborate on that, because I have the opposite view.
      2. You mentioned an “over-reliance on the use of the dribble.” Can you explain that? By the way, this is real switch! I usually get questions about the over-reliance on PASSING – usually because they have not viewed the entire system – just the first layer.

      While I wait on your reply, I will point out some of the differences that set Read & React apart from a standard Motion Offense.

      1. Read & React does not have a pre-requisite of a certain level of basketball I.Q. or basketball skills in order to use it. It is set up to teach and lead players into what they need to know and the skill sets needed to be successful.
      2. A player who only knows the first 4 layers can play with a team that knows EVERYTHING in the Read & React. In Motion Offense, the weakest link will screw up the actions of the best players.
      3. Who can make decisions along with When and Where is more clearly defined in Read & React. It HAS to be, because I’m teaching this to ALL levels of players – not just top-tiered Division 1 players.
      4. It is structured like a curriculum. Most Read & React coaches realize that they can begin with Layer 1 in their feeder programs and Layer-by-Layer, year-by-year, implement the system according the levels of their players. You don’t need to teach the entire system in order to have a working offense at every age/talent level.
      5. Number 4 above, helps me transfer the teaching of the system to my Youth coaches and every level in between. They are not required to have the same level of knowledge that I do in order to teach what’s needed at their level. In other words, I can transfer HOW to teach the Read & React to my staff a lot easier than I can other systems.

      Now, you may have found a way to do these things (with Coach Knight’s Motion Offense) over the last 29 years – in fact, I’m sure you have or you would not have continued to use it. But I could not. I even played a Motion Offense in college and yet I could not transfer it to my own team and my own coaching staff! (Probably says more about me than Motion Offense!)

      I have avoided the whole “Decision Box” and “One Decision-Maker + Four Reactors” argument, because in light of the video above, it would be redundant (even though its the MAJOR difference between R&R and Motion).

      Looking forward to hearing your concerns regarding Flexibility and Over-Reliance on the Dribble.

  24. Rick,
    Taught the read and react five years as varsity boys basketball coach. I was fortunate enough to attend one of your coaches clinics in Ceder Rapids, Iowa. Still remember Iowa coach Bludder’s recollection of why she started using the R.R. with the Lady Hawkeyes. Her daughter was starting basketball and decided this was the way fundamentals should be taught as to not pigeon hole young players. I think she would be proud to know, I signed on to help coach my daughters fourth grade team and agree 100%. Starting over from scratch with the Read and React. Montana strong.
    Thanks for everything,

  25. Rick- Had the 5 DVD bundle and your reaction DVD. We had a house fire and they were burn. I would like to buy another set if possible. If so, where can I purchase them? Thanks, Larry McVey

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