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Basketball Flex Offense



This basketball flex offense is a very active offense, moving players constantly into different positions. It requires all players to play every position, so it will suit a team that doesn't conform to the standard roles very well. For me, this has been a useful play when I have had no real big man at center, when I have lacked presence up near the basketball rim.


This basketball flex offense is a great way to even up the odds lost by lack of height, since it allows all team members to pull out to a variety of positions and use whatever skills they may have (instead of forcing a player to play low even though he doesn't really have the skill set to do so). It also pulls the opponent's big men out, as they try to follow their defensive assignments, making the key less crowded and rebounding a bit easier.

It's a pretty basic play, but that's the kind of play I like. If it suits you, and you want to find out more about this type of strategy, I would suggest you check out Glenn Wilkes' Complete Book on Basketball's Flex Offense - it's probably the best known and most comprehensive review of this offensive strategy out there.


Basketball Flex Offense: Set up and First Option

Basketball Flex Offense 1

  • Players set up as in the first diagram, with a two-guard front, two wings and man on the block on the same side as the ball

  • The play begins with a pass across the top to the opposite guard

  • At the same time as this pass is being made, the ball-side wing (#2) is going to run his man off the pick set by the post man (#4). #2 cuts across the key to the opposite post position

  • The guard that receives the pass (#3) has three passing options, which translate into three soring opportunities:

    • pass to #2 as he comes across the key; #2 takes the ball strong to the hoop;

    • pass to #4 as he rolls out of the pick he has set for #2 - if #4's defensive man has been drawn away to pick up #2, then #4 should have #2's defensive man against him, outside the key - i.e., there should be a clear passing lane from the guard to #4, and #4 should have a relatively easy basket attempt;

    • pass to opposite wing (#5), if #5's man sags to help out with #2's cut; #5 takes the shot.



Basketball Flex Offense 2

  • Immediately after passing across the top of the key, the first guard (#1) cuts low to set a screen for the post man (#4); #4 cuts high

  • The guard with the ball(#3) now has two new passing options and scoring opportunities:

    • pass to #4 as he cuts to the high post; #4 squares and takes the shot, or drives the ball strong to the hoop through the middle;

    • pass to #1 as he rolls out of the pick he has set for #4 - if #1's defensive man has stepped up to pick up #4, then #1 should have #4's defensive man on his back, behind him - i.e., there should be a clear passing lane from the guard to #1, and #1 should have a good basket attempt;



Basketball Flex Offense: Reversing the Ball


If none of these passes work out, we reverse the ball and all our movement happens again on the other side of the key

Basketball Flex Offense 3

  • #1 steps out wide to the wing

  • #4 steps quickly out to replace the guard position; #3 passes him the ball

  • #5 now cuts across the key off #2's screen

  • #4 can pass to #5 in the key; #2 as he rolls out of the pick; or #1 on the wing for the shot


Basketball Flex Offense 4

  • Immediately after passing across the top of the key, #3 cuts low to set a screen for the post man (#2); #2 cuts high

  • #4 can now pass to either #2 as he comes into the high post or #3 as he rolls out of the pick he has set for #2


And if none of that works out, we reverse the ball again

Basketball Flex Offense 5

  • #2 steps out to the guard position and receives the pass from #4; #3 flashes out to the wing; #1 begins the cut across the key off #5's screen



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
basketball flex offense 3-5 switch

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

Basketball Flex Offense Back Screen


One other 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
Basketball Flex Offense 2-4 Switch


Like I've mentioned above, if the basketball flex offense is something you want to look into in more depth, if you want to know more options and how to use it in a variety of situations, take a look at Glenn Wilkes' Complete Book on Basketball's Flex Offense. I like it becase a solid focus on basic fundamentals like pick n rolls and back door cuts will make this an effective play for you to run.



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"If you make every game a life and death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot."
- Dean Smith







Want it all? Check out Glenn Wilkes' authoritative ebook on
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