This post is geared toward the actual installation and implementation of a conceptual offense. The previous blog post outlined the guiding principles and more specific actions within our offense.

How We Teach

When implementing our offense or specific pieces of our offense, we subscribe to the Whole-Part-Whole Method. We start with the whole where we will introduce our spacing, terminology, and certain concepts through video clips or 5 v 0 skeleton offense. There isn’t a ton of time spent in the initial “whole” phase, it’s mostly an introduction to paint a picture and allow players to see how the concepts fit into an actual game. After we’ve introduced a piece of our offense through the whole, we start small-sided games to teach and reinforce the concept. The advantage of small-sided games is that players are able to get more repetitions and we are able to create conditions that are similar to the context of an actual game. After players have started to demonstrate a clear understanding of the concepts, we come back to the whole, which will consist of 5 v 5 scrimmage variations. Depending on what we are implementing, we will use scripted actions, constraints, or a modified scoring system to elicit the actions we are looking for in both small-sided games and scrimmage variations.

Phases of Implementation

Phase 1: Overview of Offense 

The first phase in implementing our offense is showing video clips of ideal offensive possessions. To us, that means that we were able to create an advantage in the possession (number advantage, closeout, mismatch, etc.) that led to a high value shot. The on-court work in Phase 1 is introducing our basic half-court & transition spacing & terminology via 5 v 0.

Phase 2: Attacking w/ the Advantage (Blender or Dominoes)

Many times coaches will start teaching and implementing their offense by walking through their set plays. While that can be effective for some, we start by teaching our players how we want to play when an advantage has been created. We call this “Blender” or “Dominoes”. This is taught through small-sided games w/ an advantage in the half-court or in transition. Concepts such as racing to space, pitch-aheads, 0.5 rule, exit cuts, and penetration reaction are all things we are emphasizing. If we feel that we need to decrease complexity, we will use 2 v 0 or 3 v 0 Conceptual Drills to teach these concepts relating to playing with an advantage. The bottom line and main reason we start here in our implementation is that a play or an action is going to yield different things- many times it won’t be a score, but many times it will be a small advantage. We want our players to be able to take the advantage that was created and understand how to create a shot we are looking for.

Phase 3: Attacking a Neutral Defense- Space & Attack

Once our players have an understanding of when an advantage has been created and how we want to use it to create a high-value shot, we need to move into attacking a neutral defense. The better the opponent, the more likely it is that our team will have to use action to create advantages- meaning we are not just going to be able to out-run every team we play and get a basket in transition each possession. Our basic spacing and movement template that we start with is Space & Attack. This is our default offense when there is no call or we are just “flowing and playing”. Space & Attack has players passing, cutting, spacing and potentially posting. We teach players a slice cut, through cut, shallow cut, or post cut. The type of cut they perform can depend on where they are on the floor and the matchup they or a teammate has.

A game we play frequently early on when implementing Space & Attack is Wildcat 3 v 3 (Brian McCormick). In Wildcat 3 v 3, there are no screens and each catch has to be made behind the 3-point line unless it’s a direct cut to the rim. This teaches our players to create gaps through cutting, recognize when there is a gap, and then attack gaps w/ a downhill drive. Additionally, we can reinforce spacing and penetration reaction on a drive, which we will have covered in “Blender” or “Dominoes”. Also in Space & Attack, we begin teaching how we want to play out of the post. We will go 3 v 3 beginning w/ a post entry and perform a post cut or post split. Space & Attack gives us a foundation of spacing as well as ball and player movement. It connects our players to a base structure that they can fall back onto in the chaos of a game without any calls.

Phase 4: 5 v 5 

In Phase 4, we want to bring the “whole” back through 5 v 5 play working on our Space & Attack Offense. To emphasize and reinforce pace, we use a shot clock (10-15 seconds). Our players know that there are no screens unless the ball is entered to the post. We are looking to create our advantages in transition, through the drive, and through the post. Space, pace, and flow seamlessly into Space & Attack until we get an advantage and are into Blender or Dominoes.

Phase 5: Introduce Actions & Sets (Repeat Whole-Part-Whole Method)

When our base Space & Attack principles have been established, we want to introduce other quick actions as an alternative method to create advantages. The better an opponent is defensively, the more action outside of Space & Attack we may have to run to create our advantages. To start, each of these actions will flow directly from the same spacing as our Space & Attack- this creates seamless flow. Players do not have to be in specific spots on the floor to execute the action. As discussed above, we will usually show the action 5 v 0 to give players a handle on the broader picture of the action and the options within an action. We then move into small-sided games where we script the particular action 2 v 2, 3 v 3, or 4 v 4. Finally we come back to 5 v 5 scrimmages. If players are struggling to understand their options, we can lessen complexity by using Conceptual Drills or going back to 5 v 0 and 5 v 5 guided offense.

To learn more about drills and small-sided games we use, please feel free to reach out to me at: I am also currently scheduling clinics for youth and high school coaches and teams looking to implement these offensive concepts this winter.