There are several different types of offenses and it is important that the type you choose is not only appropriate for your personnel, but something you are comfortable with. Once the ball goes up and the game starts, there is little you can do to make decisions for your players. You really have to decide what you can live with and what you can't. Be sure to put those priorities into your practices so your players are more comfortable with them in game situations.
Free Form Offense
This includes motion and passing game offenses. To run these offenses, each of your players must be skilled and comfortable in any position on the floor. The coach has very little control over what happens on the floor, all the decision making is made on the floor. The coach cannot decide who shoots or who dribbles and must accept the decisions made by the players.
Free form offenses typically have rules as opposed to plays or patterns. When practicing, coaches should not only reinforce the rules but try to give a big picture to his players. They have to understand why they are doing things, not just that they have to do them. A cut on the second pass might create a lay-up on the fourth pass. Without the big picture, your players will never get to the fourth pass.
In a free form offense, player roles must be very clearly defined. Players must know who the shooters are, who the penetrator are and who the passers are. They must understand their own roles, the roles of their teammates, embrace those roles and play toward their strengths. They must understand that being open is not a good enough reason to shoot the ball if there is a better shooter open for the next pass.
Free form offenses are adaptable, difficult to scout and difficult to play against because it is unpredictable. But, it can take time to teach and learn and having a continuity of players is important.
These include the Flex and Shuffle offenses. A continuity offense has a pattern that turns over and over and over without the need to stop or reset. This affords the coach a little more control over his team due to the fact he knows the next cut and the next pass.
Players need specific skills that need to be performed in specific areas. A post man that comes to the top of the key to reverse the ball, does not need to worry about making a shot or creating a play, only passing the ball to continue the offense.
These types of offenses can wear down defenses, run the clock down and can get shooters into multiple areas to get their shots. They are especially effective at levels where there is no shot clock. This allows the pattern to be turned over continually until the defense breaks down.
Called Play Offenses
UCLA High-Low Post
Called plays such as the UCLA High-Low Post, can be anywhere from 1 pass and cut to an elaborate pattern and anywhere in between. But these plays have a definitive entry and end. They have an end objective (finish up with the ball to the 5 man on the block, for example) but have multiple scoring options on the way to that end.
Plays can be used to run clock or gain control of the tempo. Players need only to have the skills that are called for in their particular role inside that play. A well constructed play has each player only handling the ball in areas where they can be effective.
Called plays can be very effective but require a maximum amount of practice due to the higher number of predetermined passes and cuts coupled with the counters that are needed when an option is defended. In addition, the more passes and cuts that are made and the longer the play runs, the more concentration is needed from the players. When the play is exhausted, if a good shot is not created, this type of offense usually either reverts to a motion offense or a quick hitter play.
Quick Hitter Offenses
Pace & Space
Quick Hitters usually involve 1 or 2 passes and a cut. The object is to get a particular player a shot in a specific area as quickly as possible. These are usually used with a short clock (game or shot), when you have limited talent and need to control who shoots, where and when, when you need to attack a particular defender due to game situation or if you have a great player and want to make sure he gets the ball.
Quick Hitters give the coach the maximum control over their team and the offensive system contains a large number of individual plays. Because of the length and uniqueness of each play, it is not difficult for a player to remember a large number of them.
In this type of offense, passes and cuts must be accurate and precise due to the fact that a pass or cut will make the play easily recognizable to the defense. You also need options should your team not get the shot it wants at the end of the play. Most quick hitters flow into a free form offense and are also used as last second or late shot clock plays.
Zone offense has similar traits to a man offense with a few adjustments. In a man offense, you attack players, in a zone offense, you attack areas. Cuts are not as important, positioning and spacing are the premiums. Each set should have a wing outlet, a post outlet, a reversal outlet, and an opposite outlet. How the players get there is largely unimportant. As the ball moves, the players try to slide into "dead spots" in the zone. A "dead spot" is an area that might be unguarded due to some type of confusion or overlapping in defensive coverage. Each time the ball moves, the zone has to adjust and those "dead spots" change as well.
Aside from searching those dead spots, there really is very little difference between constructing a zone or man offense.
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