Duke Nation
Years ago

Shuffle Offense: Pros & Cons

I coach a Division 1 Under 18 Boys Team who is not necessarily under-sized but lacks a dominant Big Man.
We have very good skills, very good shooters, great speed & athleticism. I am considering introducing the Shuffle Offense as our Motion Offense...
What are the Pros & Cons of the Shuffle Offense?
Is it still relevant in contemporary basketball?

Topic #38525 | Report this topic

Jack Toft  
Years ago

In a game of basketball each team has roughly the same amount of shots on goal in a game. The only thing variable is turnovers (and offensive rebounding).

Obviously, whoever makes the most of their shots scores more and should win. As an offensive team, each possession should finish in a higher % shot on goal, or a foul by them.

The job of the defensive team is to force the other team to shoot poorly, or to turn the ball over so they limit their shots on goal.

Before changing offenses, you should ask yourself what is going wrong currently. If you are considering something else, the current offense sounds like it is not working. With good shooters on your team, is it execution? What style of turnovers are you having? (e.g. bad passes, fumbles, out of bounds etc) What style of shots are you taking (e.g. drives, 3's, jump shots, pass offs to players in the key when the help defence comes) What shots are working, what are not.

Before you change, consider the execution of the current offense.

Reply #566107 | Report this post

Duke Nation  
Years ago

Our current offense is simply pushing the ball on transition and the boys playing off each other - spacing, react & react type stuff, receiver spots, etc. No real structure. We currently sit second on the ladder - I thought introducing a more structured offense might make us better?

Reply #566108 | Report this post

Duke Nation  
Years ago

Sorry - should have said 'READ' & react type stuff...

Reply #566109 | Report this post

Solomun Tulum mix  
Years ago

do what works - if you are looking to change your offence go through a couple and see what your team likes / can handle

Reply #566117 | Report this post

Years ago

You are definitely going to want to have a couple of structured options to build upon, and summer season is the time to work on these.

Maybe grab an app like Fastdraw and have a look at a number of set offences built on differing principles and slowly implement a few.

Then you can start running some 2nd 3rd and 4th options on each set.

Really helps to know the strengths and weaknesses of your team shooting wise (heat maps), so you can get the ball to spots where you have shooting strengths.

Tips would be start slow and build in training. Make sure they actually run it in games (don't get caught up in the heat of the moment), and in training, make sure your players know everyone's roles (where each other is meant to be). Amazing how important this can be when players are away, injured or in foul trouble and are playing out of normal position.

I'd start with some high screen and roll/pop action, and then look to add some elbow screens and some flex cuts to keep everyone moving.

Reply #566123 | Report this post

Years ago

Playing D1 U18 without a structured offense?

Read and react is U12 stuff. Any offense will be better than what you're currently doing.

Reply #566124 | Report this post

Let em play  
Years ago

If your second on the ladder with just transition and jungle ball, I would be looking at where you lose games and whats breaking down and focus on that. I wouldn't be keen to drill shuffle but I think you could look at a half dozen quick hitters from any offence playbook and these kids should execute after a couple of sessions.

Run a set motion from a couple different styles.

Reply #566127 | Report this post

Years ago

123/124. Keep it simple my friends. Too many coaches not teaching how to play and too much time on what to play. Just learning how to play out of the pick and roll has so many nuances and requires such a skillset that if you're running the flex or shuffle you are not spending enough time on teaching the kids what is importance.

Reply #566131 | Report this post

Duke Nation  
Years ago

Thanks for the feedback however I'm not sure if my original question has been answered i.e. what are the PRO's & CON's of the Shuffle Offense?

Lindsay Gaze & the Melbourne Tigers ran the Shuffle Offense during the late 80's & early 90's with great success.

What made this Offense so successful?

Did they run it with Mark Bradtke in the line-up?

Reply #566132 | Report this post

Years ago

Read and react is the basis of what a lot of pro teams are doing now. They have basic structure, and certain plays they'll go to, but good pro defences will close certain avenues down so players read and react.

My question to the OP would be do you have a 24-second shot clock?

If so you really need to be able to get into the shuffle quickly to get value out of it. Either that or run some quick hitters taken out of the shuffle if your team gets disrupted by a press and starts their offence later in the clock.

My personal advice would be to put in some quick hitters for when you really need a basket, but mostly build on the read and react stuff, putting some structure into how the guys make reads.

For example, on a ball reversal the big sets an up-screen on the ball, weakside perimeter players exchange of the high post with read and react options such as curl cuts, slips to the basket and a stagger-screen for a jump shooter to come to the top.

If you can get ball-screen action happening with movement away from the ball at the same time it is very hard to defend.

Reply #566133 | Report this post

Years ago

i ran a bit of shuffle offence with my team
My main issue was that with 24 second shot clock, to get the full array of ball movement to get clean shots from the perimeter or be able to attack would wittle the clock down real low and put added pressure on some of the players... that was my biggest issue with it

Melbourne could get away with it as they are pro's i think people forget the jump between pros and Juniors basketball

Dont get me wrong i think Shuffle O has a place in basketball i think it could be very effective but my issue was trying to run it and trying to work with the shot clock

Reply #566134 | Report this post

Years ago

@ 566124

U16 national champs ran R&R beating a highly structured Vic Metro side.

Or keep on believing its U12 stuff. Whatever works best for you.

Reply #566137 | Report this post

Years ago

Victoria have underachieved for the past 5 yrs with their highly structured, rigid system.

Reply #566138 | Report this post

Years ago

Stick with the dribble drive kick, read and react stuff.

Its the way the game is being played at the highest level and will be better for development.

In the shuffle kids stand with the ball above their heads a lot waiting for things to develop.

Reply #566139 | Report this post

Years ago

Just make sure you have screening action in your read and react stuff, both on-ball and away from the ball, and try and make it bigs screening smalls or smalls screening bigs where possible, that way you make the defence make a choice.

Reply #566141 | Report this post

Years ago

Shuffle offence without a doubt is one of the worst offences to use in junior sport. Doesn't teach the kids the game or develop their skills.

Couldn't pick a worse offence

Reply #566142 | Report this post

Years ago

Pros: Your kids can learn some new ways to play and a system that gives them direction on the court, hopefully also some variations and options.

Con: If you don't have at least two training sessions per week to practice, you will struggle with this system and everyone, (probably most of all you) will likely become frustrated and maybe angry.

You may risk producing or teaching robots if you don't approach this properly and with the right mind set to keep your kids from worrying too much about getting the play correct, not just playing ball.

The issue of training will be the main one...

Reply #566143 | Report this post

Years ago

We stifle our juniors by teaching them offensive plays that actually prevent them from shooting- too often a coach will go off at a player because they did not pass (even though they were free) and instead shot the ball. Offensive plays DO NOT win you games, offensive players WIN you games. Offensive plays do not work against all defensive set-ups, so if the opposition play something different the offensive players may not know how to react and will struggle. I prefer to teach offensive principles, with some simple yet easy to follow and effective 'road-rules'. TEACH BASKETBALL NOT PLAYS!

Reply #566146 | Report this post

Callisto 75  
Years ago

Don't like the shuffle with juniors. Teaches robots not Basketballers.

Pick and roll is the way to go.

Reply #566150 | Report this post

Years ago

I tend to agree with your overall philosophy there @Tyrell, however if you apply a simple offense to that equasion you can certainly teach this level of kids something that will improve them.

I recently took on a domestic U/16 boy's team that had some decent basic skills, but really no system or game style other than using their own ability and looking for opportunities as the defense gave them.

Kind of like R & R, but more like 'run and gun' with some jungle ball. So, the first thing I did was use a couple of games to establish with them what we can do in the competition we were in and where they stood with their offensive and offensive kill sets.

Once we were all happy that it was possible and suitable I started to show them some simple 'Flex' offensive principles and over the period of a few more weeks and the availability of a training session or two, we have started to play with as much freedom as before but also with some purpose and learning thrown in.

The kids love it, sure it doesn't always work as drawn up, but that is the beauty of how I am approaching it, even where we mess up the play we still do something to get an open look, a drive or some option to score (usually)!

The basic principles of offense still apply, spacing, timing and movement.

This is what I teach, using a simple 'Flex' system or a more complex 'Shuffle' is more horses for courses, but adopting a fun approach and one of 'You learn from your mistakes, so don't worry about making them' is what will ultimately improve kids at about this age group...

Reply #566151 | Report this post

Years ago

One of the criticisms national level coaches have of many gifted kids coming through state systems is their inability to learn or run structured offense.

A big part of that issue is how the kids are being taught in junior ranks.

If you want to be able to help your kids play Nationally or internationally teach them how to run structure from an early age, that's not to say R+R doesn't have it's place, but kids need to learn how to work within an offense.

Reply #566152 | Report this post

Years ago

Trevor Gleeson has had plenty of success running wrinkles based on the flex, nothing wrong with it so long as the kids have freedom to make plays as they see it, as you said Bear.

Reply #566153 | Report this post

Years ago

Among the funniest things I tend to see on basketball courts is the coach trying to teach something like a complex system that he/she actually doesn't know themselves.

So, how do we expect young teenagers to get a grip on more than one offensive system, let alone all the options and variations that comes with these overbearing playbooks?

Less is more!

I tend to agree with this notion, sadly however many coaches get a little too carried away with their own self-importance and become too risk adverse, even at Nationals and beyond.

I have seen too many times, kids being coached with a fear of losing and making a mistake rather than the joy of playing to win and competing for the love of the sport, even if they don't always win...

Reply #566157 | Report this post

Jack Toft  
Years ago

"Less is more! " Spot on Bear!

I would say focus on: Shooting, shooting, shooting.

If you are second on the ladder, then something is working. Let's say you're getting 35% from the field and have 80 shots per game, just increasing that shooting % by 5% to 40%, then that's 8 ppg.

My philosophy is simple. Each possession of ours finishes in a good shot on goal by us, or a foul by them. Each possession of theirs finishes in a bad shot on goal, turnover, or clever foul by us.

Reply #566162 | Report this post

Years ago


Having attended two of Lemanis' talks about style of play, he argues the opposite. Not that kids cant play in systems, its that they can't play out of an offense. The kids are so rigid in their decision making from having played too much 5 on 0 that they arent able to read the game.

Reply #566177 | Report this post

Years ago


That's the extreme end of the scale the other way. Of course you want to embrace the kids own natural talent, they can take opportunities created for them from the offense or available to them from what the defense gives them.

Without a frame work to play to the kids are effectively playing street ball which is not only ugly to watch but creates selfishness and it does nothing for team harmony or their learning.

Reply #566180 | Report this post

Years ago

Uneducated views on this offence if you think players do not develop then why have so many Tigers juniors gone to be very good players. Passing, cutting, ball movement, spacing are the traits of a motion offence are they not ?

Reply #566181 | Report this post

Years ago


Other than Iggy, maybe Von Hoffe, who was always a gun and played a style that tended to buck the tigers system...

Jack Purchase?
Matt Owies?
Dane Pinau?

All looking like duds with immense talent, who picked the wrong development path.

Meanwhile look at:
Callum Barker
Kyle Clark
Ben Simmons
Mangok Mathiang
Emmett Naar

I'm not sure these Tigers guys are set to overachieve given their MAJOR talents. Tigers clearly dropping the ball with their 1970s structures that hold their talented kids back.

Reply #566185 | Report this post

Years ago

Yep, i can guarantee you the best coaches around the world will rate more highly those players who can play within offensive rules and structure (offense) and pick them up quickly.

Having an offensive structure need not impede or limit the natural talents of a player, they simply provide the framework for opportunity for everyone.

Reply #566186 | Report this post

Years ago

yea but they won't rate guys that can't play. If you teach them how to play they will pick up on any systems and structures later on.

Reply #566187 | Report this post

Years ago

Normally the biggest fans of read and react at junior level are those that can't teach offenses and don't know any well enough to know where all the scoring options are.

Anyone that coaches an offense so rigidly that it impedes the natural talents of individuals to score (either from the offense of create their own shot) isn't a very good coach either.

Reply #566188 | Report this post

Years ago

Norwood men won running shuffle as a 1st, 2nd and 3rd option. Once the framework is there that's where you start teaching the reads, when the defence cheats, different cuts to get to spots.
Only really an 18 and upwards offence and be prepared to use all summer learning the nuances. And to coach it you have to know it 100%. Teams can defend it real easy if the kids don't understand the reads.
Tried to teach it years back in lead up to junior finals to try to get an edge, backfired big time.
If you're sitting 2nd it'll be tough enough just to hold on doing the stuff you know let alone something you don't.

Reply #566197 | Report this post

Years ago

"Normally the biggest fans of read and react at junior level are those that can't teach offenses and don't know any well enough to know where all the scoring options are."

With an opinion like that I pray that you are not actually a basketball coach.

Do you know what the read and react offense is? It's about 20 or so layers deep and would actually take a lot more time to teach properly than most other offenses.

Reply #566210 | Report this post

Years ago

I read all the comments and two threads keep coming through without being said: kids need to be able to follow instructions, and kids need to be able to play to instructions without getting so caught up in the game that they stop thinking.

Whether it's through flex or shuffle or no structure at all, listening and following instructions is a skill too many youngsters don't have in the levels I coach and watch.

The uncoachable ones aren't likely to ever make NBL or higher, no matter how big or fast they are. Sure, there are exceptions, but I doubt if any top-level coach has the patience or time to teach someone who won't follow instructions.

Keep it simple for sure, but challenge them mentally if you really want to help them go places.

And for anyone who thinks read & react is kids' stuff, I'd say reading the play is relevant to any level, even to pro's who follow a play book. There's nothing worse than a play that needs the defence and the refs to act in a certain way, and fails when they don't.

Reply #566214 | Report this post

Years ago

Personally I like to teach a structured offence be it shuffle/flex/pick and roll or whatever, but add in some of the read and react philosophy's, eg post slides, baseline drive adjustments, back screeners etc. I like to keep the offence fairly basic but teach them how to react to what the D gives us out of that etc. Nothing worse that seeing a kid catch the ball when he/she is wide open but pass it on anyway as that's what the offence dictates, I'm sure most coaches here know exactly what I'm talking about as well ;) Any offence can work as long as the players understand the why and how to play in it and the coach knows how to coach it properly imho...

Reply #566216 | Report this post

Very Old  
Years ago

" A structured offense is what you run until you can score"

Is a quote I remember well form one of the BA international coaches tours.

NOTE: its NOT the same as " a structured offense is what you run to score"

Watching some of the elite coaches run sessions, who really knew their "structured offence", - they were continually emphasisiing that all the players with and without the ball had to take the best choice from what the defense was giving them

Ie on ball screens - was the defense hedging hard, double teaming , switching, going over or under the screen and chose tyo take the actuon within or oiutside of the offence that would give the score.

A structured offence seemed for these coaches always to be about keeping the defense having to work hard to just read and react to the "automatic" movement of the offense, while the offence was continually moving while looking to break down the defence with a "chosen" ( not a Planned ) move.

Its like the defence, a semi-crap standing-still zone defence will almost always be more effective than a semi-crap man-to-man defence at low level ( or early years) grades - ( ie U12s) , but a really physically gifted and mentally alert man to man will be tougher than a similarly skilled man to man at the higher grade and skill levels. IMHO

Reply #566217 | Report this post

Years ago


Tom Wilson
DJ Vasiljevic
Von Hofe

all played for our country, some won Silver medals at a world champs, not too bad for shabby players !!!

Oh and we probably should mention Andrew Gaze, kind of was ok at International level.

Probably too robotic was Andrew

Reply #566251 | Report this post

Three To Make Two  
Years ago

"Among the funniest things I tend to see on basketball courts is the coach trying to teach something like a complex system that he/she actually doesn't know themselves."

I've seen this happen. All of a sudden you've got 3 players in the same spot all looking at each other with quizzical/accusatory looks on their faces and, if the coach isn't on top of the drill, he/she can't tell the kids who should be where!

I'm coaching U12s at the moment and trying to get them into some sort of structure (mainly 5 out or 4-1 pass/cut/replace) just to teach them movement and spacing. I always try to emphasise that the reason we run set plays is to get a scoring opportunity. I also hope that, as they progress, the ones who show promise and can show that they can follow the coach's instructions will have a better chance at higher levels.

Back to OP, one play I liked which might suit him with athletic players and no dominant big, is UCLA (what I was told it was): it uses running off screens, a pick and roll, and reacting to the defence.

Reply #566289 | Report this post

Years ago

Have read all the posts and many make very valid points. But please do not separate "read and react" from any other offense. Constantly on offense, players and teams have to read the defense and react to it, regardless of the offense. Most people these days just like to use the term "read and react" to try and sound basketball literate.

Pro's: 2nd easiest continuity offense in the history of basketball (only Flex is easier)so Shuffle is perfect for teams that practice twice a week. (And lets be clear, this is a continuity, not a motion offense)

Con's: Make sure you teach players to play, rather than running and screening from point A to point B. This can lead to robots if the coach doesn't know the 1 v 1, 2 v 2, & 3 v 3 sets within the structure. But this is rhetorical as this Con is the same when teaching any offense.

Good Luck!!!

Reply #566363 | Report this post

Years ago


Read & React is a framework and it does exist. Go to betterbasketball.com and you will see it is very comprehensive. It teaches kids how to play not how to run plays, like the Shuffle. If you teach them how to play then they can run any play, the reverse is not always the case.

Reply #566380 | Report this post

Years ago

Read and React is a philosophy too, not an offense.

Some of you are mixing the 2 up.

Many many coaches DO NOT use an offensive structure and just teach kids to "read and react"... i.e jungle ball.

This style of "read and react" can foster selfishness and individualism, it's counter productive to team harmony.

All good coaches will teach their players to read what the defense gives them and react where there's opportunity within the framework of their chosen offense. That's just good coaching.

Reply #566393 | Report this post

Years ago

The chosen offence can just be initial starting points from which players make reads and then react. It has structure but what players do next depends entirely on how the possession plays out. When done well it looks like a structured offence. When taught well it teaches the opposite of being selfish, but doesn't have the side effect of making players scared to make plays.

Reply #566396 | Report this post

Years ago

Read and React is a philosophy too, not an offense.

Some of you are mixing the 2 up.

Many many coaches DO NOT use an offensive structure and just teach kids to "read and react"... i.e jungle ball.
Read and React has structure inherently, and is entirely open to the insertion of greater levels of structure to suit whatever team is running it.

Reply #566420 | Report this post

Years ago

Which effectively makes it an offense.....

Reply #566434 | Report this post

Years ago

Read & React is most definitely an offense. Rick Torbett says so.

Read & React is not jungle ball.

You really should do your research before putting information out as fact.

Reply #566485 | Report this post

Years ago


There are 2 distinctly different types of Read and React, one is jungle ball the other an offence..
The first un structured version is far more common.

Reply #566529 | Report this post

Years ago

Read and React is an offense with a lot of rules.

There are many layers to it (20 as one poster suggested above) and in fact to teach it properly would take a lot more understanding than running most offenses.

A good read and react coach takes time at EVERY practice to continue implementing the offensive structure.

The people here suggesting it's jungle ball or that it's taught by coaches who have no idea, are obviously a bit out of their depth here. I'm guessing these people thought 'read and react' just meant seeing what the defender does and then making something up. That is NOT the read and react offense. Probably not a good idea to pass judgement on something you don't understand.

Read and react offense is run right up to college and pro level, so it is most certainly not just an u12 offense.

Those who didn't know it was an actual offense should probably hit up Google right about now.

Reply #566530 | Report this post


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