5 Out Basketball Offense – Basic Rules, Concepts & Play Diagrams

As basketball is shifting towards "positionless basketball", 5-out offenses are getting more and more popular. In this offense, all five players position themselves behind the 3-point line, creating a stark departure from traditional basketball strategies:

  • 5-out encourages great spacing and provides the offense with a lot of dribble penetration opportunities.
  • There is no traditional center or interior player hovering around the basket. Each player is expected to be able to skillfully shoot, pass, dribble the basketball.
  • The Five Out offense can be played on every level of basketball and can be adapted to be as simple or complex as needed.
  • It can be run as a base offense, your sole offense, or in quick hitter situations.
  • It can be run against man defense or zone defense.
  • It can flow from your transition and be run as something conceptual after plays break down.

In this guide, you will discover the ins and outs of the 5-out offense, including its basics, advanced strategies, as well as its advantages and downsides.

Basics of the 5-Out Offense

The beauty of the 5-Out Offense is that it can be taught to any level of basketball player - from beginning youth players to experienced pros. The basics of the offense promote good, fundamentally sound, high-quality, and aesthetically pleasing basketball.

Before we dive into the concepts, here are a few rules to keep in mind:

  • Every time a player catches the ball, they should be facing the rim, looking at the rim, and passing to an open cutter (if available)
  • Every time a player passes the ball, they should cut HARD to the rim as if they were trying to score
  • There are no backward cuts - once you cut, finish your cut all the way to the rim. If you are denied, go to the rim. No backward cuts!
  • Do not be a robot. This will vary depending on your team. If you have an experienced team that can make reads, it will sometimes be tempting for your players to just “run the play” instead of taking advantage of defensive mishaps. Encourage your team to run the offense but to also hunt advantages to score. If you have a very inexperienced team, you might encourage them to just run the motion until it becomes second nature and/or they improve their skill set.
  • Follow the rules! If one player starts to wander aimlessly or cut out of turn, it jams up the whole timing and flow of the offense

1. Pass, Cut & Fill

  • The first and most basic rule of the 5-Out Offense is that when you pass, you must basket cut - every single time! As players develop, a coach may want to add rules or give options to this but, in the beginning, this rule must be followed to the letter.
  • After a pass, the player who passed the ball must basket cut hard to the rim. An important teaching point here is that players should be “cutting to score”. Players must cut every time as if they might get the ball back for a layup (and sometimes they will). This puts more pressure on the defense and the rim. It will also open up the floor for better spacing.
  • Once a player cuts to the rim, the other players fill the empty spots
  • This movement becomes a habit pretty quickly because it makes sense. Just cut to the open spot next to you.
  • Now, the original cutter simply fills into the open spot.
  • You could literally run this as your entire offense - especially on a youth level - if you wanted to.
5 Out - Pass and Cut
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  • 1 passes to 2
  • 1 cuts hard to the rim, looking for the give-and-go for a layup
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  • 2 fills the next open spot
  • 4 replaces 2
  • 1 replaces 4
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  • We are now back into the 5-out format and the motion continues
  • 3 passes to 2
  • 3 cuts to the rim
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  • 5 fills the empty spot
  • 3 replaces 5
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  • The motion continues from here
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2. If You Are Overplayed, Go Backdoor

  • If a player is cutting towards the ball but finds themselves denied by the defense, they must go backdoor.
  • This cut is now just like the cut a player would make after passing to a teammate.
  • The cutter cuts all the way to the rim, the other players fill, and the cutter goes to the open spot.
  • Once a player decides to cut backdoor, they must finish their cut. Remember, no backward cuts or coming back to the ball. Once you cut, you cut!
5 Out - Backdoor Cut
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  • 3, 5, and 1 are all filling their new spots
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  • x3 denies 3 the reversal pass
  • instead of going backwards or standing still, 3 immediately goes backdoor and looks for the layup
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  • If the pass is not there, the 5-Out motion continues from here on
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3. If Your Teammate Dribbles At You, Go Backdoor

  • If a player with the ball dribbles at you, you must go backdoor.
  • Just like the backdoor cut mentioned above, the same rules for a normal basket cut apply here: cut all the way through, cut and fill to next spot, other players rotate to open spot
  • Players must understand the difference between their teammates driving and attacking the rim and dribbling at them
    • A north and south dribble to the rim is a drive
    • An east and west dribble to the side is a dribble at
  • A good rule here would be that if a player dribbles directly at you and they are above the 3-point line, go backdoor.
5 Out - Dribble At Backdoor
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  • 1 dribbles at 3
  • 3 goes backdoor
  • 1 looks to pass to 3 for a layup
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  • If the pass is not there - 2, 4, and 3 all fill into their appropriate spots
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  • Now, the offense continues using the 5-Out rules
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4. If a Teammate Drives, the Other Players Rotate the Direction of the Drive

  • On a drive inside the 3 point line (not a “dribble at”), the players will rotate in the direction the ball was driven.
  • For instance, if the ball is dribbled right, players all move one spot to their right. If the ball is dribbled left, players all move one spot to their left.
  • If you are in the corner and the ball is dribbled right, you are cutting to the rim.
  • On a kickout, the passer basket cuts after their pass - just like they would do with any other pass.
  • The other players now rotate and fill the empty spots.
5 Out - Dribble Penetration Rotations
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  • 2 drives right into the paint - therefore, everyone else rotates to the right
  • 5, since there is nowhere on the right to go to, cuts baseline. This may look like it causes traffic but it actually provides solid backdoor opportunities and clears out space for 2 to get to the other side of the rim
  • 3, 1, and 4 all cut right
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  • If 2 kicks it out, the offense then goes back to 5-Out Rules
  • 4 and 5 fill up to the next spots
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  • This leaves one spot for 2 to fill into
  • Now, the offense continues
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With those 4 basic “rules”, you can teach this offense to any level of basketball player or team. As a coach, you’ll want to make sure your players have mastered the previous rule before advancing to the next one.

Do not overload them with the entire offense at once! Teach it it in progressions, master each step, and then add on as you see fit. This will vary based on the experience level, age, and talent of your team.

If your team has these basic rules down (and you want to), you can progress to more advanced rules, concepts, and strategies.

Advanced Rules, Concepts, and Strategies

1. Off Ball Screens

  • You can add a rule that states: once the ball is passed, the passer must set a screen away from the ball.
  • The cutter who uses the screen now becomes the cutter to the rim and the same basic rules apply.
  • When first installing this, it might be wise for the coach to instruct the player who is receiving the screen to always curl tight to the rim. Once this is mastered, the coach can give more freedom to the players to make their own reads and reactions (popping, flaring, rejecting the screen, slips, etc.)
5 Out - Off Ball Screens
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  • 1 passes to 3
  • Instead of cutting to the rim, 1 screens for 2
  • 2 curls tight to the rim
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  • Since 2 curled to the rim, 1 comes back to the ball/rotates to the proper spot
  • 4 and 2 also rotate to the appropriate spots
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  • Now, we are back into the 5-Out Offense
  • 3 passes to 5
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  • 3 screens away for 1
  • 1 cuts outside and cuts to the ball
  • This means 3 will now cut inside (we always want a rim cut)
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  • 3 cuts to the rim
  • 2 and 4 fill their spots
  • 3 fills the next open spot
  • We are back into 5-Out
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2. Ball Screens / Pick & Rolls

  • Another rule you could add involves ball screens. A coach could instruct their players to follow their pass and go set a ball screen. This could be an option within the offense or a specific automatic action for certain players on the roster (post players, for example)
  • A roll to the rim would act just like any other basket cut in the aforementioned rules
5 Out - Ball Screens
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  • 5 passes to 3
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  • 5 follows their pass and sets a ball screen for 3
  • 5 rolls to the rim (a basket cut)
  • 3 dribbles and makes a read