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BetterBasketball's "Read and React Offense"

BetterBasketball's Read and React Offense
This offense is not just an offense, but a "system" for playing offense that is taught in layers. Coaches can start teaching the first few layers at youth levels, and progress with more advanced layers as the age and skill level of the players progresses. The offense is very flexible, interchanging easily from 5-out to 4-out (1 post) to 3-out (2 posts). It is difficult to scout and to defend. It can be used against man-to-man and zone defenses (see the "Zone Attack" DVD). The Read and React offense teaches players how to play, not how to run plays.

There are a lot of offenses to choose from... Motion, Princeton, Triangle, UCLA High-Post, Flex, Swing, Dribble-Drive Motion offense (DDM), and others. I'm stepping out on a limb here and will make a prediction... the offense of the near future, will be Rick Torbett's "Read and React" Offense™. Many are already familiar with Coach Torbett of, and the many excellent instructional DVD's that he has helped produce. Coach Torbett has used the knowledge and experience he has gained in years of coaching and teaching players in developing the "Read and React"™ offense.

Rather than learning set plays, this offense teaches players to "play the game" at all levels, starting at the youth level. It develops in a series of "layers", each layer building on the previous. The first one or two layers could comprise a youth team's entire offense. High school teams will add more layers, and college and pro teams will use them all. So it is a "system" of progression that can be as simple or as detailed as you want it to be. It can also be run against both man-to-man and zone defenses, allowing you to get really good at this offense, without having to learn separate zone offenses and plays. Higher level teams will learn the offense through the same progression used by youth teams, but can advance from one layer to another at a faster pace... depending on your team and practice time, you may have the whole thing in after several weeks. And then you can continue to practice it all season, making you a much better team by tournament time.

Perhaps most importantly, the "Read and React"™ can be used as a system of development, something badly needed in this country, and something that no other offense has ever attempted to do. Kids are taught beginning as early as 5th grade, with additional layers added each year throughout their development. This system provides tremendous continuity amongst players and coaches throughout the entire program. To me, this system of teaching basketball, and other aspects of the "Read and React"™ make it so powerful, that it's not just the "next hot" offense, it's something more, something bigger, and greatly needed.

Numerous simple break-down drills are presented. These drills provide the foundation for teaching each layer of the offense. Players are taught to react, without having to think about what to do... everything is drilled and becomes a "habit" before moving to the next layer of development. Just as we have many breakdown drills for teaching team man-to-man defense, the read and react offense is taught by it's own breakdown drills. And coaches that have been using the read and react offense claim that it makes their defense better by having to defend against this offense in practice.

Using a series of simple rules, players react to what the ball-handler does. These rules are drilled and become automatic... a habit. The ball-handler has the freedom to do whatever he/she thinks is best, and has a number of options. The four other players will react to his/her action with one specific correct reaction. Rules are given for perimeter rotation, dribble-penetration, baseline drive, east-west (lateral) dribble, pass and cut, post player movement, hand-offs, back-screens, cuts after passing into the post, staggered screens, attacking the helpside and zones. Now this may sound like there are a lot of rules, but in reality, there are not many, as each of the options above employ the same basic rules... you'll have to get the DVD's to understand what I mean!

The offense is very flexible and it can easily change to and from a "5-out" set to a "4-out, 1-in" set to a "3-out, 2-in" set, or a 1-4 high set... sometimes even in the same possession! You can use it as an up-tempo, quick attack offense, or as a slow, deliberate offense, and you can even use it as your delay offense by simply stipulating lay-ups only. And you can even start it in transition. You can still run set plays (if you feel the need), but when the play fails, your players fall back to the "Read and React"™ rules.

Coach Torbett does a wonderful job of explaining, condensing and yet detailing this offense. Disk #1 is the introduction and really must be watched as the foundations of the offense are explained. There are potentially 20 layers of the offense. Disk #2 presents each of the 20 layers. Youth teams probably will only use layers 1 - 4. Advanced teams might use most of all of the layers. The diagram below shows the basic "Read and React Blueprint". Layers 1 through 6 are the foundation, the "meat and pototoes", with the "pass and cut" and the "circle movement dribble-penetration" layers being the most essential.

Each layer is explained and detailed by coach Torbett and then demonstrated on the court with not only 5-man teams running the offense, but also with 2, 3 or 4 player breakdown drills (for each layer). Coach Torbett describes these drills as the "software that runs the hardware of the offense". In essence, these drills are the offense. A coach can add more layers as his/her team progresses, but the foundation must be mastered. Looking at the blueprint above, one would think that it all looks rather complicated, teaching all these different layers. But the beauty of the whole thing is that each layer dovetails easily and seamlessly into the previous and more advanced layers.

Coaches have flexibility in deciding which layers to use (after the basic layers are learned), and can still run their own set plays, numbered break, etc.

Some new things that I learned from this DVD set...
  • Pass and Cut layer - a passer does not have to cut on a skip pass, but must cut on a pass to one-spot away (which includes a pass into the post --> Laker-cut or X-cut).

  • Post Slides - these rules also apply to cutters who are caught inside as dribble-penetration occurs... the cutter follows the post slide rules.

  • Pin and Skip layer - more refinements and examples.

  • Circle Reverse layer - what to do if the defense denies the pass to the circle-reverse cutter... he/she treats the situation like a pass into the post and makes a Laker cut, or an X-cut, as the next player over fills the open spot.

  • Screening layer - if you add this layer, "pass and cut" becomes "pass, cut and screen". A cutter can screen for the post or back-screen for any of the perimeter players.

  • Reverse Dribble (back-up dribble) - in the half-court, signals a ball-screen, pick and roll. In transition, signals a cut to the middle.

  • Corners layer - what to do if the cutter is "stood-up" and prevented from cutting.

  • Transition layer - new thinking on the 2-on-1 fast break attack situation.

  • Press Break layer - how to break full-court and half-court presses using basic Read and React principles.

  • And many more tips... not detailed here.

I really enjoyed this DVD set as it has enhanced my understanding of the Read and React offense. I love going to practice and working on this offense, while resisting the temptation to advance too quickly until the basics are ingrained and become a habits, "reactions" that occur without players having to think about it. Speaking of practice... run the Read and React against your man-to-man shell defense (either 5-on-5 or 4-on-4)... you'll get the benefit of working both the offense and your defense at the same time, saving practice time. You watch the offense, while an assistant watches the defense (or vice-versa). In fact, almost every drill that you do in practice can be made to incorporate Read and React principles... shooting drills, passing drills, screening, rebounding, defense, etc. Also run the Read and React zone offense against zone defenses in practice... you'll need to get good at both.

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BetterBasketball's Read and React Zone Attack
New! ... coaches get the Read and React Zone Attack for attacking zone defenses.

For more BetterBasketball DVD's, see the next page