Check-list for your team offence

Any offensive system will only be as good as the fundamental base of the players and the bulk of practice and preparation time should be devoted to individual skill development.

When deciding on which offensive structure or system to implement with a team, it is important to understand what components make for a successful offense. The “six point checklist for offensive structure” can assist in simplifying the choice of structure and ensures that the coach does not waste time implementing and teaching an offensive system that does not provide consistent scoring opportunities.

Perhaps the most important aspect before even selecting your offensive structure or putting it to the “six point test” is that it suits your playing personnel and is something your players have the ability and skills to operate.

Any offensive system will only be as good as the fundamental base of the players and the bulk of practice and preparation time should be devoted to individual skill development.

The next step is to put your offensive structure or system to the “six point checklist”. DOES YOUR OFFENSIVE SET OR STRUCTURE HAVE? –

  • Opportunities in transition (early offense)
  • Spacing
  • Ball reversal
  • Opportunity for dribble penetration
  • Opportunity for post play
  • Opportunity for shooters

To effectively challenge the defence and provide high quality scoring opportunities, it is important an offensive structure or system has most, if not all, of the above qualities.


Any offensive system needs to be able to provide scoring opportunities early in the possession, either after a defensive stop or a made basket. Basic full court organization, perhaps with an inbuilt counter for extended pressure and clear roles for all players in transition, are valuable in creating quality shots early in the possession and possibly “easy” baskets. The transition or early offensive system needs to flow quickly and smoothly into the half court set to ensure shot clock pressure is not created as the offense “burns” clock in getting organized.


This is perhaps the most important aspect of any offense. Without it, the ability of individuals to execute one on one skills and key elements such as post play and penetration are limited. Whatever the system being used, all players need to have an understanding of spacing and just as importantly, how to identify and react accordingly when spacing is poor.


As with spacing, the ability to shift the defence through ball reversal is essential to effective team offense. Most effective offensive systems have “in-built” ball reversal, that is, they explore one side of the floor, then create action away from the ball and a conduit to take the ball to that action on the opposite side of the floor. This can be achieved through stepping interior players to the perimeter to reverse the ball, or reversing through the post.

With the advent of more pick and roll, there can be a tendency to “stick” in the middle third of the floor, creating close-outs from purposeful reversal is still a highly effective offensive approach.


Ask coaches what is the toughest thing to defend in the half court and many will reply containing the ball and handling dribble penetration.

Penetration of the ball into the key is a vital element of team offense and places pressure on the defence in terms of stopping the ball and then reacting to players in receiver spots. The “drive and kick game” has become a staple of “modern offence” and teams are adept at ensuring there is purposeful movement off the ball on the drive.

It is essential for an offensive system to provide “penetration lanes” and create action that leads to close-outs and opportunities to “put pressure on the rim” through dribble penetration.

Efficient and consistent receivers principles or “floor spots” will complement penetration, reduce turnovers and provide high percentage opportunities for offensive players.


The focus of any offensive system is to create quality, high percentage scoring opportunities and this is often done through the post or creating shots in the lane. The lane and post area can be described as the “80 per cent land of opportunity” so common sense would suggest it a sound idea to create action that provides scoring opportunities in this area of the floor.

With 5 out offence becoming more prevalent at the pro and international levels, there can be a tendency for coaches to think post and interior play is not longer important. The ability to score in the lane and also to change the vision and point of attack of the offence is still crucial to effective offence.


When all is said and done, the name of the game is scoring and putting the ball in the hoop. This can be done in a variety of ways, but good teams combine a combination of early offense, with post play, shots in the lane and perimeter shooting. To ensure a team is both hard to guard and scout, creating opportunities for shooters is important in providing offensive balance and making for a balanced attack.

If an offensive set or system has all the above ingredients and players have
a fundamental base, there is a strong chance it will provide plenty of quality scoring opportunities.

This checklist can also be used as a reference point during games. Often the offense may struggle because one of the above six points is not in place.

There are rarely magic solutions to team offense or coaching in general, but the application of this checklist and reference to it during the course of practice and games is one way to ensure your team is a tough proposition for any defence.


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