Over the past several days, Coach Bob Starkey has posted a series of posts (Why Motion 1, Why Motion 2, Why Motion 3) outlining why he runs a true motion offense for his Lady Tigers @ LSU. I'm a big fan of motion myself, and so most of his arguments ring true for me, I especially like the 4-out 1-in motion offenses from Jay Wright to Rick Majerus. In his series of posts, Coach Starkey stated he would list some disadvantages of running true motion. Since Coach Starkey hasn't gotten around to it, I thought I would preempt him and list my devil's advocate arguments as to why you should not run true motion:

Why is it that the worst player always ends up with the ball?

Motion works better when you can throw the ball to a Kobe or Lebron to shoot it, or a Howard in the paint who can turn and shoot without dribbling. What happens if you use true motion and you don't have a Kobe, Lebron, or Howard to throw it to? The ball usually ends up in your worst players hands. If you watch teams that use true motion, you'll notice that the players who can't shoot or can't make a move in the post -- the guys that can't make a basketball play on their own -- are usually the ones that are open and get the ball passed to them.

If each player on the team is not equal in ability and talent. Then why teach an equal opportunity offense when you know that the majority of your shots should be coming from your 3 best players? In other words, why is Kobe setting a screen for Jordan Farmar? Some motion offenses like the blocker-mover rank players according to ability, and assign corresponding roles. But orthodox true motion treats all five players the same, hence the stated 'unpredictability' advantage.

Why is it that players are always bumping into each other?

Motion offenses require from players a certain minimum level of "Basketball IQ." If you coach at Varsity and don't have the luxury of recruiting, you can't be sure that all 12 of your players will have the required Basketball IQ to run true motion. In true motion, 1 player has the ball, and the 4 off-ball players are supposed to move (hence the term motion) according to the motion rules. If 1 of those players isn't doing what they're supposed to be doing, because they forgot the rules, or because they're still thinking in their head what their "motion responsibility" is, you get a situation where players get mixed up and end up bumping into one another.

Again, if every player learns differently and at varying paces, why teach an offense that assumes that they have the same capacity to learn? Try teaching true motion to a kid who plays football the rest of the year and is used to having all of his movements scripted. Then put him on offense running true motion with a player like Kobe. We tried one year, and in end we had to abandon our 4-out 1-in motion offense anytime the football player was on the floor because it was too frustrating for the other players.


Like I stated above, I'm a motion coach myself, but I do believe that motion offense, especially true motion, is only suitable in certain situations and isn't universally applicable. There are variations, like patterned motion which are a combo of continuity and true motion which may also work. But the main point here, is that there are always many ways to do things, and what works for someone else may not work for you. There are no silver bullet solutions.


  1. squirrelyearl  

    July 22, 2009 at 10:25 PM

    Hey I take offense to the football player comment. A real football player should be making adjustments based off of what is happening on the field (now that is dictated by the defense rather than his corresponding offensive players). Although I can't deny at a high school level, that's a little less common so they are more likely to just run whatever they were told to.

  2. bruchu  

    July 22, 2009 at 11:26 PM

    Sorry if I offended any football players/coaches out there, it certainly wasn't my intention.

    Funny thing is, I helped coach the same player in football, he was our starting left tackle, though I was a DBs coach.