Watched a really good video the other day with Kansas head coach Bill Self in a coaches clinic talking about his alternative to motion offense. At Kansas, they call it 'Fist', but it's really just a ball-screening continuity offense. Some really interesting thoughts before he got into the X's and O's. He used to be a motion coach earlier in his career but as many of you motion coaches can relate to, it always ended up that your worst player had the ball with the open shot. Motion worked well when it was Danny Manning shooting the ball, or Simeon Rice in the post who didn't need to dribble it for a post move. The Hi-Low offense was good, but he found that it was too much spot to spot.

So in thinking of a new offense, Self kept asking himself "what do you run behind what you run?" In other words, when it's the end of the game, what do you run? Mostly either a 1-4 flat or a high ball-screen. 1-4 flat is good for end of games/quarters, but not suitable all game, mainly due to transition issues. The ball is the hardest thing to defend, so why not design an offense solely around ball-screens. For the last 2 seasons, Kansas has been running Fist and several options out of it. I had to watch the video over a few times to sketch it all out, especially to make a continuity out of it, but I did get it down mostly. The offense is predicated on some basic rules:

1. Guards should fill any one of 6 spots on the floor, corners, wings, and wing-tops.
2. Anytime a forward catches the ball, and passes it back out to a guard, he chases the ball into a ball screen.
3. On any ball screen, the guard should try to drive to the rim (baseline or middle).
4. On any baseline drive off a ball screen, the forward pops out for pick and pop.
5. On any middle drive off a ball screen, the foward rolls off and sets a downscreen for the strong side corner then slips to the basket.
6. On any middle drive off a ball screen, the weakside forward should duck in once the ball crosses the lane.
7. On all ball reversal, weakside forward should duck-in attempting to seal his defender, for an easy drop step dunk move.

Sounds a little complicated, but I'll try to break it down with some diagrams. The first one is just the initial setup. Guards should attempt to fill one of six spots on the floor. It's usually a 3-out 2-in with 2 guards and 1 forward on the strong side, 1 forward and 1 guard on the weak side. The initial goal is to get the ball into the post,

If the post cannot make a move, kick the ball back out to start the action. Rule #2, anytime a post kicks the ball out, chase the ball into a ball screen,

The core of the offense is based on the ball screen. O5 sets a flat screen, O3 can choose either way, baseline or middle (Rule #3). If the guard comes off the ball screen naked (turning the corner unguarded), then it forces X4 to either help to stop penetration or free lane to the basket. O4 should look for a lob pass for the dunk. O5 pops out after setting the screen (Rule #4),

If O3 drives but can't score, and O4 is no longer open, reverse the ball to the weak side through O5 who has just popped out. O5 chases the ball into a ball screen (Rule #2), and on every ball reversal we're looking for the duck in by O4 (Rule #7). The duck in is key because on the ball-reversal, the post defender should be in help position, therefore on the reversal, the forward should be able to seal the defender with their butt such that they can get a drop step dunk,

Once the ball reaches the weak side, O5 is setting the ball screen again. In the diagram below, the screen is kind of a side-screen, but it should be flat. The guard should try to get to the rim, baseline or middle (Rule #3). If the guard goes baseline, then play like Diagram 3 above. If the guard goes middle, then O5 should roll to a downscreen then slip to the basket (Rule #5). O2 now has 4 options, O5 rolling to the basket, O4 on the duck in after O2 crosses the lane (Rule #6), or reverse it back out to O3,

O3 should immediately look for O4 on the duck in again, since X4 should be caught in help position after the ball reversal, O2 cuts to the opposite corner,

If X4 is unable to make a post move, the ball is kicked out again, and the offense repeats. I diagrammed the below just to show that the ball can be kicked out to any guard position, and it's the same, X4 chases the ball into a ball screen (Rule #2) and they repeat,

There are some more detailed notes on this offense in case you are interested in them. You can download them here.

It sounds pretty complicated, but if you follow through the sequences a few times, you'll see that it is pretty straightforward. I think this is the kind of offense that will work for JV and up. It's probably a little too complicated for youth. There are a lot of options you can run out of this, including 1-4 flat options, UCLA cut, etc... It's really flexible.

There isn't a dedicated video to just the offense, at least not just yet. But if you like Coach Self and the way Kansas plays, then take a look at Bill Self's DVD on Better Practices.


  1. Lightning Dave Bolton  

    June 23, 2009 at 10:19 PM

    Great notes coach. I like this offense for juniors, flexible system that could be installed reasonably quickly I think.

  2. bruchu  

    July 1, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    It was not a professionally produced DVD, it was filmed at a coaches clinic where Coach Self was at. It looked like a high school in Kansas somewhere, there were some other coaches on the video like Greg Marshall from WSU and another assistant from Kansas St.

    As far as I know, Coach Self has not made a professional DVD out of the 'fist' offense as of yet.

  3. John  

    July 8, 2009 at 6:53 AM

    This looks like a great system.