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Thursday, July 23, 2009


The Troubleshooting Chart is something that we have taken directly from Jim Boone’s book on Motion Offense. As I have already stated, Jim is one of the best teachers I know, not just in motion but also in all phases of the game. His book on Motion Offense is the absolute best I have read and I strongly suggest you purchase a copy if you don’t already own one.

Through the development of Motion Offense you will certainly run into problems. Once again, work through them with sound teaching of fundamentals and patience.

We have received several questions from coaches utilizing Motion Offense. We have incurred some of these situations and it prompted us into developing the following Trouble Shooting Chart. If you have ever experienced one of these charts, possibly in attempting to hook-up your team’s VCR, then you know the first thing to check – do you have the unit properly plugged in? Seems simple doesn’t it? More often than not it’s that simple with the development of Motion Offense.

Players moving too fast. This is a common problem area in our Motion Offense. Our players are trying so hard that coupled with their lack of understanding in regard to patience and execution creates their hurried movement. “Be quick but don’t hurry,” we tell them in practice. But to develop their understanding of this you must first impress upon them the importance of holding the ball for a two count, as well as holding their position following a cut without the ball. If necessary have them count it out loud just to emphasize the length of a two count. Secondly, we will work 4/0 and 5/0, stopping them from time to time to ask a particular player what specific cut did one of his teammates last make. This forces them to take the time to be aware of what type of cutting is going on around them, and consequently slowing their movement down. Ultimately you must be very firm about holding the ball for a two count as well as the proper execution of cutting and screening, these fundamentals will produce a slower more coordinated movement. Two additional phrases often used in practice: “move with a purpose,” and “It’s not how fast you go, it’s what you do.”

Players standing around watching rather than moving with a purpose. This occurs generally due to two factors; an over use of the dribble or confusion in regard to what cut to make. If the dribble is your problem, and it more than any other thing will create a lack of purposeful movement as your players begin to watch the dribbler, it is easily rectified. Do not let them abuse the dribble. We have previously defined those situations in which the dribble is appropriate and you must be emphatic about this in all breakdown and whole method work. A restriction that we often use in our 4/4 and 5/5 play is to eliminate the dribble. This obviously encourages execution of our screening and cutting fundamentals. We will at times take away the option for our perimeter players to replace cut, forcing them to move to different areas of the floor as well as limiting their cutting options. In regard to confusion, do not accept a lack of concentration by your players. Everything we do in practice from changing drills to our pace is designed to increase our concentration. I do believe that it is important that you are patient in working with Motion, but do not be patient with your players as they learn Motion. We feel that you must be demanding and exact in your teaching, never allowing them to become satisfied.

Congestion and problems with our spacing. Once again we feel it is important to work 4/0 and 5/0 stopping your team to ask them what cut a teammate made. This will help them to be much more aware of the screening and cutting that is going on around them and therefore reduce congestion. In our 4/4 and 5/5 work we will stop their play for a “spacing check,” just to emphasize this critical element and to make the necessary adjustments. Your players’ proper execution of spacing once again comes down to their ability to concentrate. The use of videotape has been very productive for us as well in this regard. We do film all scrimmage portions of practice (3/3, 4/4, and 5/5) so that we may bring our players in individually or in small groups to observe first hand their mistakes as well as their correct execution.

Moving the ball too quickly. We believe that it is better to be a little late offensively that to be early. If the ball is moving too quickly, two things are occurring – both of them bad. First, we are obviously not getting the ball to the action, and second, we are moving the ball away from a potential open cutter. Our greatest key here is to hold the ball for a two count unless you have an immediate scoring opportunity or a pass leading directly to a score. Also, we have our coaches constantly talking to our players as they execute the offense. This accomplishes two objectives. First, we are forcing our players to not just hear but to listen to our coaches, which will in turn helm to improve their concentration. Second, we are telling them what cuts they should make, through repetition they will soon make the appropriate cut on their own. We tell our players that one of the great attributes of Motion Offense is that if you make an incorrect cut we have not been unsuccessful on that possession. Simply widen out and continue to play. We do not have to re-set our offense, as most patterns and continuity offense require.

Shooting the ball to quickly. Early in the practice season we will enforce our four-pass rule, even for our “green light” players, to emphasize the importance of our offensive execution. And at times we will place an even more restrictive passing rule on them – up to as many as eight passes before a shot attempt. It is also important that your players have a very thorough knowledge of your definition for each of them in regard to shot selection. This is an area where developing restrictions on who can shoot the basketball in your 4/4 or 5/5 play can help to define roles and proper execution.

Poor defensive transition. We have rectified this problem by doing the following. We designate a player, most often our ball handling guard due to his lack of offensive rebounding responsibilities, to always get back on defense. No matter the situation - regardless if he is the shooter, the screener, or has dribbled the basketball deep into the lane - his primary objective is to get back and stop the ball in defensive transition. We do tell our perimeter player that is located on the top of the floor or closest to the top, in the event that our designated player drives, he must get back to defend our opponent’s transition. This allows us to always have at least three and most often four players going to the offensive glass. Obviously you may have to make adjustments in this according to your opponent.

Lack of screening. Sometimes you will find that your team is not screening or when they do your cutters are not using them properly. In regard to the latter problem, you must spend time every day teaching your screening and cutting. Motion Offense requires daily maintenance, and the greatest factor involved in our offense is obviously our cutting and screening. If your players seem to not be executing the type of screens you would like to see or enough screens, we recommend the following. First, place restrictions on them as to how many screens must be set and used before they can score. Another great restriction is to give them a specific screen to score from. For example: you must set a minimum of four down screens before you can shoot and you can only attempt to score from a down screen situation. Second, set up specific situations that you want to see in your offensive play and have them execute these situations from your 4/4 or 5/5 play. These two ideas have always been very successful for us in improving the quality of our screening.

These are a few of the most common problem areas that we run into in talking with other coaches utilizing Motion.