Basic Offense
The Swing

Every team needs a basic offense, a really good basketball play that is simple enough for all your players to remember - they're already under lots of pressure on the court, so the less they need to remember, the better. At the same time, that really simple play will also have to create lots of movement that gets the defense out of position so your players can score.

The Swing works well against a zone defense. It is not difficult for players to learn - always a good thing in my books - and is very effective at creating holes in the zone while at the same time providing shooting opportunities for your shooters. I rarely use more than two plays at a time with my teams, but if I have any shooters, the Swing will be one of those plays.

One thing to note: as with any offensive play that you run, it's efficiency will depend a great amount on how quickly and efficiently you move the ball. Have your players pass quickly and with purpose, and have your players move to position with speed.

Basic Offense
How This Play Works


  • Players set up as indicated in the diagram - point guard, two wings, one small forward setting up outside the key near the baseline, and one post man on the high post.
  • The play begins with a pass from the point guard to one of the wings.
  • If the point guard passes to the wing on the same side as the small forward (#4), then #4 simply flashes out a few steps on that side looking for a pass.
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  • As well, the high post (#5) would step to the elbow on that side, looking for a pass.

  • If the ball is passed to the opposite wing, #4 then flashes along the baseline to the opposite side, looking for the pass along the way. If the zone is decent and has no holes yet, it is most likely that #4 will be pushed out to the 3 point line before he becomes open for a pass.

  • At the same time, the high post (#5) flashes to the ball-side elbow.


  • #2 passes to either #5 or #4.
  • If the ball goes to #5, #3 drops toward the basket on the weak side and #4 moves in as well, giving #5 the opportunity to either shoot, drive or pass, depending on how the zone reacts.
  • It is more likely that the defense will deny the high post the ball, and the pass will go to #4 at the baseline.
  • Immediately after passing to #4, #2 cuts hard through the key looking for the ball and the drive.
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With the ball in #4's hands, three things happen:

  • #1 moves over to act as a safety
  • #5 cuts down the key to the low post, looking for a pass and an opportunity to drive or post up
  • #3 on the weak side wing cuts hard across the foul line, to take up the high post position that #5 has just vacated
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Scoring Options:

  • #4 has a shot (always place your best shooter in this position)
  • #5 can drive or post if #4 can get the ball to him
  • #3 may have a little jumper from the elbow if the defense follows #5 and #4 can get the pass to him


  • If none of these scoring options pan out, players move to swing the ball to the opposite side
    • #4 passes the ball out to #1
    • #5 follows the ball up the key to the high post
    • #3 flashes into the point guard position
    • #2 flashes out to the wing
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    • The ball is swung to the opposite side

    • #4 and #5 flash across to set up on ball side
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    • As on the other side, the wing - #2 - has the option to pass to #5 if he is open

    If the ball goes to #5,

    • #1 drops down deep into the weak side,
    • #4 moves in closer to give #5 passing targets
    • #5 can shoot, drive or pass

    If the ball doesn't go to #5, it is passed to #4 at the three point line

    • Immediately after passing to #4, #2 cuts through the key looking for a pass and a drive

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    Again, three movements happen:

    • #3 slides across the top to act as safety
    • #5 flashes down the key looking for a pass and drive or post up
    • #1 cuts to the elbow that #5 has just vacated, looking for a pass and a shot

    • As well, #4 again has the option to shoot
    Basic Offense 7Basic Offense - 7

    If no scoring opportunity presents itself, everyone moves back into position to swing the ball back to the other side

    • #1 moves back into the point guard position
    • #2 moves out to the wing
    • #4 passes the ball out to #3, who passes it out to #1 at the point
    • #5 follows the ball up to the high post
    Basic Offense 8Basic Offense - 8

    The team is now reset in its original positions and runs the play again until a scoring opportunity arises

    Like any offense, it is important here to be patient - run the play through, keeping a sharp eye out for opportunities to score, but if they don't arise on the first run through, you run the play again until something opens up.

    I'm not a fan of complex basketball plays - basic offenses always seem to work out easier. That's why I like this one. It is an easy play to run, and is effective against a zone - with all the movement happening inside, zone assignments get tangled up and if offensive players move quick enough, someone will pop open in good scoring position.

    It is an especially good play to use if you have a good shooter or two. Put your best shooter in the small forward position at the baseline, your best cutter / driver at the wing, be patient and this offense will work well.

    "Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts."

    - John R. Wooden