When first developing basketball plays for offense, coaches should use a basic strategy that can be changed based on players’ size and ability level. The most important thing to remember when setting up an offensive play is balance:
- A balanced court will be set up for high percentage shots with designated rebounders and players ready for defense transition.
- A balanced court will also have proper spacing between teammates — about 15-18 feet apart.
A good offensive basketball play will also feature optimal player and ball movement. Shots should come from the inside and outside of the court, so that the defense won’t be able to focus all their attention on one area.
In an effective basketball play, each player has a designated position based on role, ability, and skill. Each position has its own responsibility in executing the strategy. Positions and their duties include:
- The center, usually the tallest player, will most often play the inside of the court and should be comfortable in close-contact play.
- Forwards are usually the next tallest players and must have a versatile set of skills. Most offenses feature a small forward and a power forward. The small forward must be a good ballhandler and play primarily on the perimeter. The power forward is a rebounder who moves between the outside and inside.
- Guards are the smallest players and can be broken down into point guards and shooting guards. The point guard uses strong dribbling ability and coach-mentality to direct plays and create scoring opportunities for other players. Shooting guards must be confident shooters.
When setting up basic offensive plays, coaches should implement strategies that will work against any defensive set. The following offenses should be part of every coach’s playbook.
- A fast break offense is the fastest transition from defense to offense and puts immediate pressure on the opposing team.
- A press offense is used against full- or half-court defensive presses and requires strong passing and ball movement in order to get the ball inbounds and across half court in the face of difficult defensive pressure
- A player-to-player set offense is used against a defense that guards players individually and should feature starting positions that fit the offense’s strengths.
- A zone set offense is used against zone defenses and should use crisp passing, overloads, and the ability to get the ball into the high post or short corner
- A delay or control offense is used when it is important for the offense to maintain ball possession but delay the shot, usually when the team has a lead late in the game.