Continuity Plays

Notice: This article was written by Steve Jordan, Coach's Notebook. Email the author at

Here are a couple continuous patterns you might like to try. Diagrams are below. There are few rules that define a continuous play, so lets quickly go over those so you know what I am trying to present. A continuous play should:

  1. Start in an easy to recognize configuration. The players should be able to understand where to start. That's why the positions have been numbered. Who you assign to each number is up to you, of course.

  2. Once the play has run through its cycle, the players should either be in their original starting positions, or perhaps in a mirror image of them. If the players are in the mirror image, then they simply run the play in the other direction.

  3. The play should provide shot opportunities for all players throughout the process. Your kids should be encouraged to take shots as good openings are discovered. In practice, declare a single player as the only one who can shoot. It will make the rest of the team look for all possible opportunities in the process.

  4. The simpler the play is, the better. The sooner it resets, the better. The point is to enable the team to quickly learn a pattern that allows them to move constantly and concentrate on openings the defense provides. If they are too busy remembering where to be, they won't score. Instead of shooting, they will be running into each other and getting frustrated.

The goal of the continuous play is to score, not to simply run a play. Have the kids run through the motions without a basketball. Have each player learn all the positions. Once they have the pattern down and know where each other will be, then you will see them become more creative. After that, its really a matter of picking the best shot to shoot. If a shot doesn't develop right away, no problem. The play continues until a good shot is found. The beauty is that your team is in control of the basketball until you get your shot.

The play starts in a common 1-3-1 configuration. Point is on top and two guards on wings, high and low posts. This play will work against man or zone defense. The ball will move from side to side, hopefully moving the defense with it, then take advantage by running cutters on the weak side.


How to run the play:
To start, the point passes to the weak side, then sets a pick on the center playing the number 5 spot. At the same time, 4 moves up to screen for 3. 

3 cuts to the basket looking for a lay up. Not getting a shot, 3 moves to the corner. 5 pops out as the outlet and gets the pass from 2.

Shot opportunities:
3 cutting to the hoop. 1, after screening may be able to roll to basket. 3 may be open in the corner following the cut inside.

Notice that the strong side has now shifted to the other side of the floor. 2 passes the ball to 5, the safety outlet. 3 moves up partway to 2 and establishes a screen. 2 uses that screen to cut to the basket, then the opposite corner. The ball is reversed to 4.

Shot opportunities:
2 cutting to the hoop. 2 in the left corner. 5 may have a three.

Now its time to move to the reset. 
- 5 goes down to screen for 1 so 1 can return to the point. 
- 4 passes to the point and then down-screens for 2. 
- 2 returns to the wing position. The play is reset

Aside from 2 and 3 switching sides, we are back to start. The point passes to 3 and the play repeats. Once the kids are more familiar with the pattern, give the point guard the option of passing to either side. Essentially, the point and wing who doesn't get the pass should move to whatever side the ball is passed to and thereby establishing the new strong side.

The following diagrams provide an alternative motion from the same configuration. Because the plays are continuous, you can run them in sequence. Run the first pattern described above, them run the one described below. Or, just run your favorite motion over and over.


How to run the play:
To start, the point passes to the weak side, then sets a pick for the opposite wing, in this case, 2. 5 pops out to the top of the key. 2 begins a long cut to the basket using 1 and then 5 to shake the defense.

If 2 doesn't get the ball, he sets a pick for 4.

Shot opportunities:
2 is likely to get open near the free throw line. If 2 has the ball, he may be picked up by 4's man, which leaves 4 open.


The cool part is the secondary cut. Right after 2 makes his move, 1 follows his tracks. Its like running two fingers through the sand. 2 blazes a trail, picks up defense. 1 may be WIDE open as the trailer.

Not getting the ball, 1 goes to the far corner. 4 uses 2's pick to get free at the wing.

Shot opportunities:
1, obviously, as the trailer. 3 has the ball for a few seconds here, and may have a drive opportunity depending on the defensive reaction to the double cut.



Its time to reset. This time we use two down screens to bring the guards back to the top.

5 passes to upcoming 1 and returns to the free throw area. 

Shot opportunities:
Watch 3 and 4 down low after the screen. They should seal and call for the ball. They may have mismatches.


1 moves to the top and 3 returns to the wing.

Guess what? We're ready for another go. Remember that you may run these plays in either direction.