I've watched Bo Ryan and his Wisconsin team the last couple of seasons and have been very impressed by the offensive system that he runs. I did a little research and discovered his Swing Offense. As far as I know, the swing offense has been around for a while, but Bo Ryan's is his own design that combines features of both the Flex and UCLA systems.

What I like about Bo Ryan's Swing Offense is that it's very patient and methodical, much like Pete Carril's Princeton 5-out motion. It's a continuity motion 4-out 1-in where all players are expected to be able to play all 5 positions. The reason why I think it's better than the Princeton offense is that it emphasizes getting the ball down low for a higher percentage shot and draw shooting fouls as opposed to a shot from the perimeter.

Now, I've never run Bo Ryan's system, and what I will breakdown is based on my understanding from articles, notes and video. If I have messed up any parts of Bo Ryan's system, please feel free to comment and correct.


This is a 4-out 1-in motion offense. To run this offense in my opinion, you don't necessarily need a lot of speed, but you need some size and players need to be disciplined. Players need to understand spacing and be able to make good entry passes. Below is the basic setup of the offense,

OK, so coach Ryan emphasizes that the whole key is to get the ball into the low post. If the point can get the ball directly into the low post from initial setup, that's the first option. When P1 passes to P3, P5 will try to seal his defender high side and get a post-entry low-side for an easy basket. This triangle setup is the basic formation you want.

UCLA high screen and cut:

Now, if neither P1 or P3 are able to get the ball in a good position down low to P5, the motion of the offense begins.

The basic motion is an upscreen by P5 and P1 will cut hard off the pick and head to the basket looking for the ball. If he doesn't get the ball, he will attempt to post up and get the post-entry that way. Coach Ryan emphasizes over and over the use of pass fakes to throw off the defense. This will allow an easier post-entry pass.

On the weak-side, P2 and P4 will v-cut hard to the basket and re-fill. One great counter against zones that coach Ryan also describes is the option of P3 hitting P4 on the v-cut or P2 on the skip pass for the 3-pointer if either is open. But the first option is always down low, to P1 in this case.

Flex screen:

If P3 is still unable to get the ball down-low to P1 on the UCLA screen, this starts the flex screen motion.

P3 passes the ball to P5 up top who will quickly swing the ball to the weakside to either P2 or P4. P1 will set a flex screen for P3 who cuts hard baseline side and looks for the ball heading to the hoop from P2 or P4.

If P2 can't hit P3 on the cut to the hoop, P3 will setup at the weak-side low post. P2 or P4 will then look to get the ball in the low post to P3.

Continuous Motion:

There are two different variations of how the motion continues from here. The basic triangle is still available here with P2, P4 and P3 as below,

Or you can swing the ball around with a flex screen and re-run the basic motion from the right side again. Coach Ryan has a preference for the right side and so often-times they will swing it back to the right side looking for the low-post entry again as below,

This is a patient quick-hitting offense. The players are expected to set good screens, cut hard to the basket and move the ball. When the post-entry is made, often-times the defense has been caught in either a mis-match or out of position due to all the screening and cutting and therefore it should be an easy 2 points. All players need to be able to score down low and make shots.


Like I said before, I like this offense better than the Princeton because the emphasis is to get the ball down low into a high-percentage shot or draw fouls. I think you can run it against virtually any kind of defense, even against pressure defenses. Against the pack-line, you can use the skip pass for an open 3-pointer on the weak-side. Against the zone, after several ball reversals and pass fakes you should be able to attack before the zone shifts. Against aggressive pressure, you should be able to take advantage of overplays. It's easy to see how Bo Ryan has achieved such success with it at Wisconsin.

It's just a terrific offense to watch. Don't be fooled though, this is a working man's offense. Players must work hard and constantly move the ball looking for the best shot opportunity available. You must be very disciplined, very patient, and very efficient. If taught properly, I think this could be the perfect offense.

For more details get Bo Ryan's 2-disc DVD with details on both his Swing Offense, X-Zone offense and several quick hitters.

Go over the Coaching Basketball Forum to discuss.


  1. Detox For Life  

    December 14, 2009 at 1:26 AM

    I watched them this last weekend against Marquette 12/12/09. I was truly very impressed. Like you said it is a pleasure to watch them run it because it really is so controlled.