The various types of offenses are designed to use teamwork to free up or isolate players for good shots against a multitude of defenses. Offenses must be simple with the emphasis on execution and fundamentals. Offensive spacing should provide for strong offensive rebounding position as well as allowing for defensive balance. Offenses must be flexible to meet various types of defensive pressure. They must also have counter options that take advantage of any defensive overplays and traps. Offenses can be categorized into Early, Set, Motion, Zone, and Spread.
Most early offenses depend on quick, wide lane releases, inbound passes, and pass advances to reach the offensive operating areas before all of the defenders can retreat into the front court area. By advancing the ball into the offensive operating area within 2 to 3 seconds, the defenders are most often spread out, creating an opportunity for a high percentage of field goal attempts. Getting into offense before the defense can establish proper player match-ups also creates severe mismatches. When the early push does not create a good shot or advantage it is important to move right into an offensive flow without allowing the defense to set up.
Though most teams would prefer to play the up-tempo, fast-break transition game that personifies today's basketball, the "Set Play" is the staple of the game. Set plays use teamwork and screening actions in an effort to create good shots. The type of set plays used are predicated upon the team's player personnel. On the court, set plays are initiated by a verbal or visual hand signal.
Through constant player movement, teams of average size and abilities can overcome and defeat teams of superior talent and size. However, this requires players to play together as a single unit. More importantly, it requires players to possess an unselfish attitude to create open shot opportunities for their teammates. This constant player movement must have purpose and patience in attacking the defense. Since all offensive movement is based on defensive reads rather than set action, it is difficult for opponents to scout and defend.
The need for a solid zone attack is paramount on every level of the game. Attacking zone defenses requires ball movement and total team effort compared to the player movement and individual skills required in attacking man-to-man defenses. Before undertaking any specific zone offense, coaches and players must have a working knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the various zone defenses. They also need to know how to exploit poor zone defenders. Good outside shooting, early offense (fast breaks) and offensive rebounding are key elements to a successful zone offense.
Spread offenses are normally deployed at the end of game to protect a hard earned lead, or when a team is totally mismatched. By spreading the court, it not only takes time off the clock, but also increases the area the defense must defend. However, in spreading the court, teams must make sure to continue to make basket cuts and attack the basket. Holding the ball for the sake of trying to run time off the clock will allow the defense to become more aggressive and disruptive.