Thursday, 20 February 2014

Offensive Philosophy – The Motion Principle (Part 1)

I make no apologies…I’m an offense-minded coach.  I know the old saying goes “Defense wins championships.”  But I don’t think I ever bought wholeheartedly into that notion.  If defense wins championships, then the New York Knicks of the Pat Riley era would have won at least one championship.  I know it’s up for debate, but there haven’t been many teams tougher defensively than the Riley-era New York Knicks.

I am a firm believer that BALANCE wins championships.  A good offense AND a good defense combined together makes for winning basketball.  Just as achieving balance in one’s life leads to happiness and success, so does achieving balance on the court. What good is it to be a team that can lock an opponent down but can’t score?  I’m not enamored with teams that play a strong, physical defense, but allow its offense to be ugly and unimaginative, with no fluidity to its game.

Though I believe in balance as the key to success, truth be told, I do side more to the offensive side of the ball and can therefore be seen as more of an offense-minded coach.  There are two main reasons why:

1.) The Psychology of the Game – If coaches are honest with themselves, the esteem of most players and most teams is linked to the success they have on the offensive end.  If the kid doesn’t see the ball going in the bucket, if he doesn’t feel part of the offense…doesn’t feel invested in it…the defense will suffer. And truth be told, it’s a recruiting tool too. I can get a kid to buy into my program through offense because I know that’s what they value. To be honest, it’s what I value. I set up our team identity through the offense first – playing for each other, playing unselfishly, doing things in our offense that will lead to success for others (screening, passing, talking).   Through offense, and the offensive system that I sell to them, I share with them they will know freedom and will have the chance to express themselves.  I like to say, “You can find yourself in my system.”  If you’re a good passer, there’s a role for you. If you’re a shooter, a screener, slasher, this offense has something for you.  If you’re a leader who loves directing people and getting them into place...this is the offense is for you.  In selling offense and a player’s role in it and how that role will benefit the TEAM plays to the psychology of the game.  It makes it easier to sell them on playing defense later on and becoming a BALANCED team. J

2.) Execution vs. Effort – Defense is about effort.  You must have to make the effort lock in on your man, keep him in front of you and take away angles.  I see defense as about effort and imposing your will.  Offense is about execution.  As a result, I believe much time needs to be devoted to getting everybody on the same page and executing properly.  I say about 60 – 65% of my practice time is devoted to offense (maybe more if I’m honest!).

So what is my offensive philosophy?  Some will joke that my offensive system can be summed up as a two-person conversation between player and coach:

“Hey, coach, I’m open.”
“Then hurry up and shoot.”

But kidding aside, when it comes to offense, I’m a motion offense kind of guy.  It’s a mishmash of the Jerry Sloan Utah Jazz offense, Princeton Offense, UCLA high post offense, Flex offense, Triangle and almost anything else that I seem to come upon at any given time.  But I believe in motion offense because I love seeing everybody involved in the offense.  I hate to see players standing around.  I love the flexibility it allows as opposed to set plays.  I found some notes on the internet that sums up nicely why I love the motion offense.  The notes are from coaches of a junior club team in Australia – the Greenvale Grizzlies (

Motion Offense is not, as some people perceive, a freelance offense but an offense of rules which is a reflection of each individual coaches philosophy.

If the offense is not correctly taught it can result in disorganized free-lance basketball. Therefore your players must be disciplined in the concepts of shot selection, - spacing, balance and most importantly reading the defense. Your players must be instructed correctly and effectively to execute the essential components of the offense.

The offense is a grounding in ‘how to play the game’ as opposed to learning to play a position.  Specializing in a position will develop as your players mature and will be influenced by their physical stature. Learning the motion offense will ensure that they have the skills required to play in a role that their size and quickness will determine.

The motion offense is an ideal teaching vehicle for individual and team offensive movement and provides an excellent fundamental skill base for your players. It also teaches players to read the game and develop a sound knowledge of team concepts, but most importantly they love it!

So, there you have it.  I am a believer in the motion offense. The key points I take away from my fellow coaches are:

1.) The offense is a grounding in ‘how to play the game’ as opposed to learning to play a position. It goes back to what I said about selling my offense and by extension my program: the player will utilize skills that they’re good at in this offense, ‘that their size and quickness will determine.’

2.) …most importantly they love it!
Players really do love playing in the motion offense system.  I remember one day walking out of practice with my old team back in New York City.  We were walking to the subway and buses to go our separate ways home and I overheard one of the players saying to another, “I really like playing in this offense.  If you’re open, you can shoot.”  I loved hearing that because I saw it as a player feeling invested in the system….in the Team.  He didn’t feel stifled.  My motion system doesn’t cater to one player to get touches or high volume shots.  I loved hearing what this player said because I felt he saw how, if you follow the rules of the system and read the defense properly, you can, as I always say, “Go make a play.”

So what exactly is the Coach Reed-Team Hurricane Motion Offense?  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this discussion coming up shortly!

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