The Spread Offense
A Simply Effective Offensive Play

This spread offense isn't complex, but it can be very effective if you have a good post player who can see the court and pass well, and quick guards that aren't afraid to drive. Because that's what this basketball play does best - it opens the path to drive to the hoop.

This spread offense is best used against man to man defense, but don't be afraid to mix it up every now and again, putting plays like this up against zone defenses - used occasionally, offensive plays like this will confuse the defense and open up scoring opportunities.

As the name implies, this play spreads the floor, pushing players to either side, which leaves the key wide open for drives and cuts. It also brings the defense high and far from the basket, which makes it difficult for them to help out when one of their teammates gets beaten on a drive, and makes them less effective on the rebounds.

Spread Offense
Basic Movement

  • Players set up as indicated in the diagram - 2 guards, 2 forwards, and 1 post man on the high post. If the post man is being tightly guarded, he can begin low on one of the blocks and flash to the high post just as the play begins.

  • The play begins with a pass from the point guard to the post man. This is how we'd like to start every time - it allows us then to use both sides of the court and thus opens up more options. Sometimes this pass won't be available - what to do then will be explained later
  • Immediately upon making the pass, the point guard is going to screen down for the forward; at the same time, the guard on the weak side will screen for the forward on that side. Both forwards flash high on the wing; guards will roll out as soon as the contact is made

    Check out Pick n Roll Drills for practice on the pick 'n roll.

  • With the ball at the foul line, both sides of the court are now open for a pass.

Spread Offense
Basic Scoring Options

  • The post man can pass to either guard as they roll out of their picks - if the pick n roll is performed well, there is a good possibility that at least one of the guards will roll out alone, with the defensive players tied up with the forwards.
  • The guard would take the ball hard to the hoop.

  • If the guards take the defensive men, then the forwards would be flashing to the wing alone - the post man can pass to them for a shot

Spread Offense
No-Post Pass

Option 1: Post Drives the Lane

  • If the post man can't get free of his defensive man - the pass can't get in to the high post - then the forward needs to shake his defensive man and come higher to the wing to get the pass from the guard
  • Immediately the high post breaks down the lane, looking for the pass from the wing and the drive to the hoop

  • At the same time, the weak side guard screens for the forward, and the forward cuts across the top of the key

Scoring Options

  • The ball is passed to the forward at the high post, who now looks to pass the ball down to the post man, or to swing the ball across to the weak side guard, or to take the shot or drive himself if open

  • If nothing else happens, the forward passes the ball back to the point guard and everyone sets up to begin again

Option 2: Weak Side Cut

  • If the post doesn't have a lane to drive down (i.e., defense is crowding him), the post will step up and set a screen for the weak side guard

  • The weak side guard cuts around the post's screen and flashes down the lane, looking for the pass and drive to the hoop
  • After setting the pick, the post player rolls out. If the pass can't get to the cutter, the post player steps toward the ball and gets the pass from the wing

Additional Scoring Options

  • The high post immediately looks low for the cutting guard coming off the second screen from the forward

  • The high post can also shoot or drive depending on what his defender gives him

  • If none of that works out, the ball is swung to the point guard and we start all over again.

The spread offense isn't difficult, but it can be a very effective play for getting the ball inside and pulling the big defensive guys out of the key. This set up really hinges on getting the ball in to the post at the top of the key - from this position he can pass to either side of the court, and should be a scoring threat himself. Even better than that, it should pull one of the biggest defensive men to the top of the key - and leave a clear lane to the hoop.

Quick cuts and hard drives will win this game, since the spread offense opens up the key and everyone is positioned at some point to drive to the hoop. Tell your players to aggressively go to the hoop whenever the opportunity arises.

"A goal without a plan is just a wish."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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