Motion Offense in Youth Basketball

The Youth Basketball Motion Offense is mainly used to counter “Man to Man” Defense. In youth basketball, Motion offenses are the most difficult offenses to teach the younger players (as well as many high school players). However, if you are not prepared when the other team plays “Man to Man” defense – your team will be in big trouble. There are more “skills” needed to properly execute a motion offense such as setting screens, ball handling, moving without the ball, triple threat, posting up, cutting (and more). If your opponents play good man to man defense, and you’re not ready – The game could be “over” fairly quickly for your team.

Motion Offense

Also check out our new AVCSS Basketball download publication “Motion Offenses for Youth Basketball”


The Youth Basketball Motion Offense can be complicated so start with a basic motion offense (see the handout below that diagrams a basic motion offense) – all you really need is one motion offense (and execute it well) to counter your opponents man to man defense. Coaches should make sure that they teach their players the “Principles of a Motion Offense” also (see free handout below).


Attacking and Beating a “Man to Man” Defense:

Here are just three of many ways to beat a man to man defense.

The first and fastest way would be to “beat” the defense up the floor – which means to run your fast break (transition offense) up the floor quickly before your opponent even has a chance to set up their man to man defense – this will give your team more “one on one” opportunities (which means more opportunities to score points just by getting the ball up the court quickly).

The second way (which will take much longer) is to teach your players the “Principles of the Motion Offense” shown below – These are the main principles that coaches should teach their players. We have included a handout that you can download so that you can make copies and hand them out to your players as needed. Have patience, it may take a long time for the younger players to retain the information and then execute what they’ve learned – but keep at it, the benefits will come from hard work…

And third, your players will understand how to run a motion offense better, if they first understand the concepts of man to man defense first. Teach your players the basics of playing man to man defense, and they will better understand the motion offense…

Important Note: Coaches must make sure that they pay attention to teams that keep switching defenses, be prepared to counter by changing offenses (if you keep this in mind during the game, you will be ready for it when it occurs – and it might save you a time out or two?).

Motion Offense


Teaching Principles of the Motion Offense

1) Triple Threat: Players must utilize the “Triple Threat” position. From this position a player can shoot, pass, or drive. Players must look for the opening, penetrate to the basket for the shot, or “dish” the ball off to an open teammate. Players must look for the opportunity to drive to the basket, if it’s there, take it!

Triple Threat

2) Offensive Rebounding: Consistently going to the glass, boxing, out, and getting the rebound is a very important weapon against a Man to Man defense. Be aggressive, get to the boards, and box out!

 Boxing Out Basics (Right Side)

Boxing Out Team Drill

3) Setting Screens: A motion offense can only be successful if all players are properly setting and utilizing screens. The best attitude for a player to have is “How can I get one of my teammates open?” One of the best ways to accomplish this is to execute a screen effectively. It is important to note that there are 2 players involved with setting a screen: The Screener, and the User – both players must execute their part in order for the screen to work!

Basics of Setting a Screen – Handout

4) Movement without the ball: Don’t stand still, always be active, move to keep your defender busy (don’t make it easy for a defender to guard you). Deceive and distract your defender (especially if you are away from the play).

5) Catching the ball: Make sure you are in a good position to receive a pass (use “V” cuts, push off, etc) – help to create a good passing lane. Don’t be lazy when coming to the ball, and look the ball into your hands (use a strong grip when catching the ball). Younger players usually have a hard time catching the ball – see the video clip below that shows the basics of catching the ball.

Catching the Ball / Basics

6) Executing the plays: Players should be taught that if a motion offense is to work, every player must work hard to ensure that the play is being run correctly. It takes a collective attitude to create the team chemistry needed to effectively make a motion offense work. Executing the play means: Remembering the play, running your route, look for openings, setting proper screens, and making good passes, etc.

Poor execution of a motion offense = Turnovers! Turnovers! and more Turnovers!

Here is the free Handout on the Principles of a Motion Offense as discussed above, feel free to download and share.

Principles of Motion Offenses – Handout


A Simple Numbering System

Coaches will find it will be much easier to teach a motion offense if they incorporate a simple numbering system (as shown below), this will help the younger players remember where to stand, and to understand the different positions, etc. The number system below is used frequently – but it doesn’t matter what numbering system you use – just use one…

Motion Offense


Here are some general notes regarding motion offenses.

a) It only takes 1 player to throw the whole play out of sync. Make sure that you put the 5 players on the court that know how to run your motion offense the best – it may not be your 5 starters, or your 5 most athletic players – So take it from experience, put the 5 best players that can run the motion offense on the floor to give your team the best chance to succeed.

b) You don’t necessarily need any post players on the court to run a motion offense – you can use all guards if that’s what it takes. If you have a post player (or two) that can run the motion offense, that’s even better…

c) Make sure the “1” (point guard) calls out the play so the other players can hear it, but most importantly, the point guard needs to pull back and call for a “reset” if the play is not set up right or all over the place!


A Simple Motion Offense

Here is a handout that diagrams a basic Motion Offense that you can start teaching your players. This Motion Offense is most likely the most popular (and possibly the easiest one to teach).

Motion Offenses / Basic

Basic Offense Motion for Youth Basketball – Handout

Here are some video clips that show some coaching tips, pointers, and drills to help coaches better understand the principles of running a Motion Offense.

Basic 1st Step in a Motion Offenses

Basic 1st Step in a Motion Offenses / Option

Best Time to Drive in a Motion Offenses

Best Scoring Option in a Motion Offenses / Passing

Screen for the Shooter (Right Side)

V-Cut and Flash to the Ball


Pick and Roll / Motion Offense

*Pick and Roll (Motion Offenses) – The Pick and Roll game is one of the most effective ways to score vs. Man to Man defense. If you have the players that can properly execute and understand the pick and roll – you will be successful.

 Here is a basic example of a pick and roll in action.

Pick and Roll Wing to Elbow (Right Side)

 Here are just a few of the many options of the pick and roll.

Pick and Roll Play - 4

5 - Pick and Roll Play

Pick and Roll Play - 12

13 - Pick and Roll Play

Handout – Pick and Roll Plays

Practicing Plays: The plays should be run from one side to the other, over and over until the players get comfortable with it. Add some defenders in the mix when you feel the players are ready – try to keep it “game like” as much as possible (I start with just a couple defenders, then work up to a full defense). Either way, it is important to keep running the play over and over until the players are comfortable with it. There is a difference between “showing” the players the plays, and “teaching” the players the plays – understand the differences…

Motion Offense

 Want more information about The Youth Basketball Motion Offense?

Check out our new AVCSS Basketball download publication “Motion Offenses for Youth Basketball”

Lots of information about the youth basketball motion offense, and the Video Clips to help bring the information to life (can’t beat the price for this much information).

 motion offense

Motion Offense

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