Motion offense

A motion offense is a category of offensive scheme used in basketball. Motion offenses utilize player movement, often as a strategy to exploit quickness of the offensive team or to neutralize a size advantage of the defense.

Motion offenses are different from continuity offenses in that they follow no fixed repeating pattern. Instead a motion offense is free-flowing and unrestricted, following a set of rules. Some examples of basic rules that are commonly used are:

  • Pass and screen away: Players pass to one side of the court and seek to screen for players on the opposite side of the court. The hope is to create spacing and driving lanes to basket.
  • Back screen: Players in the key seek to screen players on the wing and open them up for basket cuts.
  • Flare screen: Player without the ball on the perimeter seeks to set a screen (usually near the elbow area of the lane) for another player without the ball at the top of the key area.


The origin of Motion offense has been disputed. Though credit is often given to Hank Iba, the former legendary head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys men's basketball team. There are many who believe that Motion Offense was developed earlier by coaches of the Harlem Renaissance, an all African-American team who played during the 1920s & 30s. In fact, The Harlem Rens were the first team — black or white — to win the World Championship Professional Basketball Tournament, held in 1939 and they utilized a Motion Offense.

Iba's version

Iba's teams were methodical, ball-controlling units who featured weaving patterns and low scoring games. Hank Iba's usage of the motion offense, coupled with an aggressive defense, was especially prevalent when he directed the Cowboys to NCAA championships in 1945 & 1946, becoming the first college team to win back-to-back titles. He was also voted coach of the year in both 1945 & 1946. His championship teams were lead by Bob Kurland, the game's first ever seven-foot player. During Iba's 36-year tenure as Oklahoma State head coach (1934-1970), his motion offense also lead the Cowboys to 14 Missouri Valley Conference titles, a Big Eight Conference title, and 655 victories with the Cowboys. He also coached the U.S. Men's Basketball Team to gold medals in the 1964 & 1968 Summer Olympics. Overall, with coaching stints at Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Colorado included, Iba won a total of 767 college basketball games. He is also the only coach in history to win two Olympic gold medals.

Bob Knight's version

Another prominent head coach who has been influential in the development of the motion offense is Bob Knight. Knight has utilized the motion offense to great success for over 40 years as the head coach of the United States Military Academy, Indiana University, and Texas Tech University. His motion offense emphasizes post players setting screens and perimeter players passing the ball until a teammate becomes open for an uncontested lay-up or jump shot. Players are also required to be unselfish and disciplined, and must be effective in setting and using screens to get open.

Knight's utilization of the motion offense was most evident during his 29-year stint as head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball team (1971-2000). He amassed 661 victories as coach of the Hoosiers, and captured 3 NCAA championships, a National Invitational Tournament (NIT) title, and 11 Big Ten Conference championships. He was voted National Coach of the Year 4 times, and was the Big Ten coach of the year 6 times. Knight's 1976 championship-winning squad, which featured Scott May, Kent Benson and Quinn Buckner, went 32-0 in the process of capturing the crown and was the last title-winning team to go undefeated in men's college basketball. He won a second title in 1981 on a team that starred Isiah Thomas, and his third title winning team in 1987 featured Steve Alford and Keith Smart. Knight also coached the U.S. Men's Basketball Team to the Olympic gold medal in 1984. His Olympic squad included many notable players such as Alford, Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, and Michael Jordan.

Upon his retirement from Texas Tech in 2008, Knight had amassed 902 total victories for his career, making the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I college basketball. In addition, he is one of 3 coaches to achieve a triple crown in basketball: an NCAA title, an NIT title, and an Olympic gold medal.

Modern usage

Today, the motion offense is used by a vast majority of high school, college, and professional basketball teams. Many basketball teams have continued to utilized the offense to great success on all levels of the game.

See also

External links

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