“Read and React” Offence is not a set or structured offence. Instead it is a framework that relies upon “reads and reactions” in a 2 player context, which are combined into a seamless framework for 5 players.

Teaching the offence requires “drilling” the “reads and reactions” into the 2 player context so that they become habits. The offence is differentiated from a “motion” offence because it does stipulate specific actions that a player is to take and in the “read and react” offence the key is what the person with the ball does. Players without the ball act based upon the action of the ball handler. In contrast, a “motion offence” teaches players to react both to their defender and also to the movement and position of their team mates.

The offence has many “layers”, which add complexity to what the team will do. The layers are taught in sequence, however a particular team may not work through all layers, depending upon their skills and experience.

The offence is most effective the better the skills of individual players, so coaches must teach and practice fundamental skills, not just work on team movements.

For simplicity, the offence is often initially taught in a 5 Out alignment, which emphasizes that all players must be able to play on the perimeter. Below is an overview of the foundations of the read and react offence. There are DVDs and other materials available for coaches wanting further information about the offence.

Layer 1 – Dribble Penetration and Circle Movement

On any dribble penetration, the dribbler looks to penetrate “to the rim” (i.e. get the lay-up), however they will also have the following passing options:

  • Pass to a perimeter player that is opposite
  • Pass back to a person behind them
  • Pass to a baseline cutter

Whichever direction the dribbler moves, the other players also move in that direction, creating a circular movement.

Here, 5 is the baseline cutter, 1 and 3 are opposite and 4 lifts behind the dribbler.

Similarly, where 2 dribbles to the left, the circular movement is to the left.

The rule applies regardless of where the dribbler is.

Layer 2 – Baseline Penetration

On baseline penetration, the player in the opposite corner stays as this is a good passing angle.

The other players continue circular movement, although it may be smaller movement. On baseline penetration, the dribbler must have 4 passing options:

  • Opposite corner
  • Opposite side – 45 degree
  • Same side – 90 degree
  • Same side – behind (safety)

The baseline penetration rule may mean that a player rotates in the opposite direction to the “circle”. For example, in a “4 Out, 1 In” alignment, the movement is:

  • 4 drops to the opposite corner (even though this is not in the direction of circle movement)
  • 5 lifts to 45 degree position, but at the post not on the perimeter
  • 3 moves to the 90 degree position
  • 1 moves to the safety (behind) position

Layer 3 – Back Cuts and Pass & Cut

The next layer introduces the “pass and cut”, which is one of the simplest yet effective moves in any “invasion” sport, whether that is basketball, football, hockey etc.

When a pass is made to a team mate that is “one pass away” (also known as a “single gap”), the passer must cut to the basket.

Other players rotate in a circular movement in the direction of the pass. Here, 2 cuts to the basket, 4 lifts and 2 moves out to the corner.

The rule applies regardless of where the pass was made from. Here, the pass is made from the point to the wing, and players from the opposite side of the floor lift and rotate, with 1 moving out to the corner (which is the vacant spot).

Anytime a defender that is “one pass away” (or single gap) is outside the 3 point line, the offensive player cuts to the basket (a “back cut”) and players rotate to fill positions from the baseline.

Here, 2 cuts to the basket and 4 lifts from the corner.

The rule equally applies to an offensive player moving following a pass and cut.

3 passes to the wing and cuts to the basket. 5 lifts, however x5 moves to deny a pass and is outside the 3 point line.

Accordingly, 5 then cuts to the basket and 3 will lift having moved to the corner. 5 then moves out to the vacant corner.

Layer 4 – Post Movement on dribble penetration

When a dribbler penetrates the key, any post player moves according to the following rules:

  • If the penetration into the key comes from below the post player or along the baseline, the post moves up to the elbow
  • If the penetration into the key comes from above the post player, the post steps to the short corner which (if their defender steps out) creates more room for the dribbler or (if the defender stays in the key) creates a passing lane.

2 penetrates into the top of the key, so 5 steps to the short corner.

The other perimeter players move in a circular movement, to the left which was the direction of the penetration.

3 penetrates along the baseline, so 5 lifts to the corner.

1 and 2 rotate to the right (the direction of the dribble) and 4 drops to the opposite corner because the penetration was baseline.

The rules equally apply when the penetration is from the same side as the post player. As 4 penetrates the top of the key, 5 moves to the short corner.

The perimeter players move to the right, the direction of the dribble.

The rules also apply when there are two post players, with 4 and 5 both stepping to the short corner on 2’s penetration to the top of the key. 4 in effect becomes the
“safety” pass and would move higher (on the perimeter) if necessary.

If the post defender steps out to the short corner, the post player may be able to back door cut.

The post player can also move from the short corner to the “safety” position behind the dribbler. This can be very effective if the post player is a good perimeter shooter.

Layer 5 – Speed Dribble

The “speed dribble” is a non-penetrating dribble (i.e. it moves from perimeter position to another perimeter position) and forces a backdoor cut which then triggers other perimeter movement.

If the dribbler does not penetrate into the key, but dribbles toward a team mate, that team mate cuts back door to the basket.

Other perimeter players adjust position from the baseline up.

The dribbler uses a “speed dribble”, facing the direction that they are moving in.

Layer 6 – Power Dribble (Dribble Hand-Off)

A power dribble is used to initiate a dribble hand off. It may be used as a pressure release or to get the ball into the hands of a better ball handler. It can be signalled either by using a sideways “step-slide” dribble or other visual signal (e.g. tapping the chest).

1 dribbles toward 2 and comes to a jump stop. They hold the ball with one hand, one top and one hand below.

2 “v-cuts” (and could cut to the basket if their defender does not react) and then takes the ball from 1, attempting to penetrate into the key.

1 can roll to the basket.

If 1 does not receive the pass, they move to the perimeter. 4 lifts to be a safety pass behind 2.

3 and 5 drop on the perimeter.

Sometimes the player dribbled at may cut to the basket, in which case the dribbler can continue to the next player for a hand off.

Alternatively, 1 could reverse direction and hand off with 5.

Layer 7 – Circle Reverse

If the defence are able to stop dribble penetration, the perimeter players change direction and “circle” in the opposite direction.

The pass to 3 could be a hand off or a short pass.

Layer 8 – Back Screens

After any back cut, the player can back screen for a team mate, rather than moving to a gap on the perimeter. As with any screen, it is important that the cutter does not move until the screener has “set” – listening for the screener’s feet landing on the floor.

The player can also set a ball screen, if the player they were setting a screen for receives a pass.

Layer 9 – Staggered Screens

There are also opportunities for staggered screens when multiple players cut after passing the ball.

Staggered screens can also be used where there is a post player.