The theory of this offence originated from Duck Howell of Pepperdine University. Several outstanding US coaches, including Bob Knight (Indiana and Texas Tech), Bob Boyd (Southern California), Hank Iba (Oklahoma State) and Dean Smith (North Carolina), have popularised the offence. The basic principle of the offence is to pass and screen the nearest defensive player away from the ball. After two or three screens some coaches like to introduce cutting options and/or screens on the ball.
The starting alignment can vary (1-2-2, 1-3-1, 2-1-2 or 3-2). During the development of this controlled freedom offence it is important to keep the rules simple. The offence depends on flexibility and each player’s ability to read the defence accurately and make the right decisions about screening on or away from the ball, cutting, feeding a cutter or making a one-on-one move to the basket.
There should be minimal dribbling. In fact, when some coaches teach the offence they call a violation on a third dribble or less, depending on the point of emphasis he wishes to make. It is common for some to ignore the post man and this can lead to many perimeter shots. Some teams with outstanding shooting skill may prefer this, but it imposes a burden on the post man to compete for rebounds. A good rule for practice is to insist on the post man receiving a pass before any player is allowed to shoot. This rule is applied only in practice, but is a good reminder to the team that balanced opportunities and sharing the ball provide the best results.
Lute Olsen, the respected former coach at Arizona University, was successful with the passing game. A couple of rules he applied are relevant for all offences.
1.If there is no help defence, penetrate to the basket. If there is help, pass the ball. This is an excellent rule to help teach young players how to read the game, especially in four-on-four drills.
2.Penetrate to score – not to explore. This rule encourages players to drive hard to the basket when an opportunity exists, but do not dribble the ball without purpose. Many times players will start a dribble and change direction around the court as they try to find a way to make an offensive play. Meanwhile, other players are wondering what they might do to get out of the path of the dribbler or to create a lead for a possible pass.
One of the disadvantages (and advantages) of the Motion Offence is that there are no rigid rules. A great deal depends on the right decisions made by players to penalise the defence. Very experienced players enjoy using the passing game as it allows them to exploit their individual talents. It is also difficult for opponents to scout and prepare set defensive rules to combat the offence.
Teams using more rigidly structured offences should spend some practice time using the passing game. It can relieve the monotony of rigid rules and it helps players develop their individual initiative.
The simplified rules of Motion Offence are:
- Keep the floor well balanced.
- Pass and screen on the ball, pass and screen away from the ball, or pass and cut. Never pass and stand still.