Teaching 4-out Motion Offense

Now that tryouts are mostly over and teams are preparing for the season, I'm seeing and hearing from a lot of coaches that want to put in a 4-out 1-in motion offense but want some ideas on drills and progressions to teach the offense. In my opinion, most teams below high school should be running some sort of 5-out or 4-out motion offense because it teaches players fundamentals in spacing, moving without the ball, passing and finishing.


The base of a 5-out or 4-out motion offense is the concept of pass-cut-fill. You pass the ball, cut to the basket, and fill an open spot while the other players rotate to fill the other open spots on the floor.

I would recommend teaching this 4 on 0, regardless of whether you are 4-out or 5-out. This will help with spacing. In the diagram above, the pilon can be a chair or what have you. The idea is for the corner players to drag the 3-point line and cut to the basketball. The cutter should always look to get the ball back.

This is the fill part, so once you cut to the basket and don't get the ball, you fill to the weak-side of the court, while the other players rotate up top. You can then reverse the ball and work the left side. You can continue this action of cutting, then reversing the ball say 3 times before scoring the basket. Then have another 4 players go through it.

Be sure to freeze the offense if they aren't executing properly. You must correct players if they aren't v-cutting properly to the ball, or not basket cutting hard and looking for the ball. Motion offense is all about execution and the little details, focus on the details.

Backdoor Cut:

Now, once the get the idea of the pass-cut-fill, you want to add a few more options like the backdoor cut, curl cut, flex cut, UCLA cut, etc... The options are literally endless with the motion offense. Here I've diagrammed a simple drill working on just the backdoor cut.

Make sure you are emphasizing things like change of speed, and other skills that will help them be more effective in getting open. You can use a manager or other player to simulate a defender overplaying.

We've started practices for our JV team and we will be running a 4-out 1-in motion this year. We've been doing a lot of these 4 on 0 drills and re-emphasizing all the points of spacing, cutting and passing. So far, things are going great. We usually spend at least 25-30 minutes each practice doing the breakdown stuff. I think it's important to spend the time early in your pre-season teaching the fundamental concepts so that in-season you can focus on the adjustments based on the scouting reports of your opponents.

I have a ton of notes on motion offense including a huge set of notes from coach John Carrier who is a regular on the Winning Hoops forum so be sure to check them out at the X's and O's Basketball forum. For video instruction, I highly recommend taking a look at Jay Wright's DVD on Breakdown Drills for the 4-out Motion Offense. Coach Wright is the highly successful coach at Villanova.