Set Offenses



A Set Offense means players will have specific spots to line up on the floor and certain cuts and moves they will make within the offense. You may hear the term “Sets” or “Set Plays” when referring to a Set Offense.

A Motion Offense will give players more freedom to move on the floor and there are not pre-determined spots a player must be on the floor. But that freedom can hurt a team too. You want to make sure you have the right players taking the right shots at the right time. That is difficult with a Motion Offense. Also more players will handle the ball. That may not be what is best for your team.

Players will go to their spot of the court to start the offense. Depending on the type of Set Offense player will have a “Set” place to dribble the ball, pass the ball, screen away or screen on the ball, cut toward the ball, shoot the ball and get in position to rebound the ball.


The benefit of running a “Set” Offense or Set Plays is this allows players to know exactly where they need to be on the floor. It also helps the coach because there is no wondering where a player or players should be.
A player coming down the floor will not have to worry about being out of position or where their teammates will be. Taking the guess work out for younger players helps to concentrate on other parts of the game.

As a coach there are times when I want certain players to take the shot or to receive the ball in a certain part of the floor. By running a Set Offense of Set Play gives me the abiilty to do that much better than a Motion type of Offense.
I love Motion Offense. It is what I played in High School and College. But my experience in coaching has shown me the need to put player in the right spots. Sometimes that could be to hide a player who is not a good offensive skilled player.
Sometimes I have a particular player who is an outstanding ball handler or scorer. Then I want to use a Set Offense so they ball is in that players hands most often.


Being put in pre-determined spots can also hurt teams. A good defensive team can take certain passes or cuts away. A good defense knows where a team wants to get the ball and who they want to shoot. Defending a Set Offense if not run with strong cuts and good ball movement can be easy to defend.
If a Set Offense relies on a particular position to handle the ball, shoot the ball, play in the post and you are lacking at those spots the Offense will struggle.
As a coach if I know what the other team is doing on offense and I know where they want to get the ball it is easier for me to prepare my team. At the College and High School level most good teams will put a lot into scouting their opponent.
Scouting allows me to let my team know what the other team will most likely do in a game. We are then going to do everything we can to take away another teams strengths.
We will go through and make sure to take away key actions, key plays and key players as best we can. Another team may beat us, but we are going to make sure they don’t beat us with their strengths.
On the other side when I am coaching our offense to go against a good defense we will know how to get open and move on the floor by using “Counters”.
Most Sets or Set Offenses will have a “Counter” action. That means if a defense takes something away then the offense need to have “Counter” or second option. When teaching any type of offense the role of the coach is to put players in position to be successful. Preparing them when a team or players are taking away certain moves gives players the ability to play with confidence.

I never want my players to get frustrated on the court. I don’t want them to think the offene won’t work or they won’t be able to score. Defenses can take away many things an offene is trying to do, but they can’t take away everything.

The offensive player or team on offense holds the upper hand because the defense has to react to their actions.


  • Flex
  • 1-4
  • 1-2-2
  • Box Sets
  • Horns
  • High Screens/Horns
  • UCLA High Post


To run any good offense you have to take time to break down the fundamentals and break parts of the offense down where you can concentrate on key areas.
For any Set Offenses here are your key teaching points.

Getting open without the ball. Against a good team you will not be able to pop out to the wing and catch the ball to start your offense. You must be able to make a cut to get open. There are various ways on how to get open, but this is one of my favorite drills to get open vs a good defender.
Take care of the ball. Make the smart decision and the right decision with the basketball. Fancy or tough passes don’t win games. The simple plays win. We like to use the term “Value the Ball”. If a player will value the ball and understand how turnovers hurt their team, they are more likely to make the right decision.
Set and Use Screens. Your player must know how to set and use screens. A good screening team is difficult to guard. Set screens with a wide and strong base, making sure to keep still to not get called for an illegal screen. Then screen with hands ready once a teammate uses the screen to receive the ball on a slip to the basket or if the defense switches leaving a mismatch. The player using the screen must set their defender up. Usually by taking the defender away from the screen. Then by making the right cut back toward the screener the defender has a better chance to get stuck by the screen.
Read the defense. Like was stated earlier. A good defense can take away a lot of optionsk but they can’t take everything away. Knowing how to read where the defense is playing and how they are playing is important. Are they pressuring the ball, do they try to avoid screens, do take passing lanes away. When a player moves on the offensive end they need to constantly be award of where and how the defense is playing the play.


Players must be albe to play more than one position in any offense. Coaches must understand that players learn in a variety of ways. Some can be shown on paper, some can pick up watching video and some need to go through the motions to learn. Knowing you have a variety of learning styles in your group means making sure your message gets through.

Players have to know not only their position on the floor, but the other positions as well. Knowing where to go and when to go are important, but knowing where your teammates are supposed to bve is equally important. Having that type of court awareness gives a team a big advantage of their opponent.


Any good offense is developed over time. A Coach needs to know the talent level and skilll of the players they are coaching. Then they need to gauge how much time they will have to implement their offense. Breaking the offense down into small parts will give players the best way to retain the information.

A good Set Offense is hard to defend and gives a coach the best option to have the right players shooting and handling the ball.