Basketball Flex Offense
Adapting to the Defense

I've mentioned in my previous post on running a basketball flex offense that, while it is a very active and quick-moving offense, it is also fairly simple and clean to run. This is both good and bad - good in the sense that your players are not likely to get bogged down and confused with a complex set of movements; bad in the sense that it is possible for the defense to read it after a while and do something to try to counter it.

So this page provides some possible adaptations you can make to the flex offense I offered to counter any change in the defensive approach. Keep in mind, one of the most common problems teams have with running effective offenses is that they get impatient - they run the offense once or twice and then someone forces a shot.

Regardless of the defense you are attacking, remember to have your players run through their movements quickly and decisively, cut to their spots, pass strong and be patient - scoring opportunities will open up.

Basketball Flex Offense
Adapting to the Defense

Defense will catch on at times - once we have the ball in motion and people are moving and screening, this isn't a huge problem, but it can cause difficulties if we are trying to get that first pass in. Here's two adjustments to make to the basketball flex offense when the defense starts to cheat on that first pass.

3-5 Switch

  • #5 cuts straight from the wing to the high post, looking for the ball - a strong, quick cut intended to lose his man

  • At the same time, #3 cuts hard to the basket, looking for the ball and a layup

Back Screen

  • #5 cuts from the wing to set a pick for #3; #3 uses the pick to go back door on his man straight to the hoop
  • #1 can pass to #3 cutting to the hoop, or #5 as he rolls out of the pick he has set for #3

Another possible defensive cheat will be to sag back on the cutting wing, making it difficult for the post man to set an effective pick.

Here's how we deal with that:

2-4 switch

  • After passing across the key, #1 cuts low and sets a screen for #2 (above #4)

  • #2 comes in to #4, but instead of cutting across the key, he runs his man off #1's screen and cuts to the high post

  • #4 then rolls out of his screen and cuts across the key to the opposite low post

  • And we're back in the same formation as before, with #2 and #4 having switched positions

As I've stated elsewhere, I like the basketball flex offense for a couple of reasons - when I have five players that are more or less evenly matched in height in skill, and therefore no clear center or even forwards. The flex offense allows us to pull everyone out to the perimeter at times and give them an advantage they might not have inside against larger players.

I also like the focus on fundamental skills like the pick n roll and strong cuts, and the fact that, as with any offense, your players will need to adjust as they go, read the defense and choose for themselves which adjustments make the most sense for the situation.

It makes stronger, smarter, more versatile players which will help the team succeed in the long run.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

- Phil Jackson