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Pass & X-Cut? Umm… Let’s Discuss it.

One of my favorite parts of the Read & React is that a coach can infuse it with his own personality. There are a ton of ways the Offense can be adjusted to your style of play, your strengths and weaknesses, your personnel, etc. In fact, this blog has a bunch of ideas to help you do just that.

But, those adjustments must happen within the framework of the Offense or you slowly move away from the Read & React and back into traditional motion offense.

So, where does the X-Cut question fall? Let’s go through it.

In the Read & React the very first rule that you learn is: If you pass, you must basket cut. Simple.

The problem some coaches spot within the specificity of that rule is that now you can no longer pass and screen away. And, eventually you start to miss the screen away.

So, a coach who misses the screen away and loves the Read & React (these are not mutually exclusive) gets an idea. What if I changed the Pass & Cut rule just a bit? What if after you pass you could either basket cut or make an X-cut with the player one spot away? That would achieve the screen away and send someone to the basket. And, best of all, it seems like it won’t mess anything up with the other layers of the offense.

That question has created a rousing debate in a couple of forum threads over the last few months and I thought it was just about time to post an official answer on the Tribe. (You can also read Rick’s thoughts which delve into the difference between Read & React and Motion Offense here).

I discussed this with Rick the other day and we came up with the following response.

From a flow of the offense and the seamless transition between layers, adding the X-cut as an option will not mess anything up. This is true.

But, if I were you, I wouldn’t introduce it because it interferes with some of the fundamental principles of the Read & React. There are four reasons for this.

1. Making a decision slows down reaction time. The Read & React is all about being Decisive and Aggressive and to achieve that goal, many of the reactions need to be drilled until they become habit. In layer 1, a player who makes a pass is already into the cut even while the pass is in the air giving him the advantage over the defense. If you add another option, the player has to make a decision, ultimately slowing his cut down and killing that advantage.

2. It won’t take long before the passer will decide which option to use prior to making the pass. This may increase reaction time, but that decision isn’t being made in response the to defense. And, eventually, you may end up with every player making an X-cut instead of a basket cut because it’s easier and safer.

3. There were two goals of the immediate basket cut. First, give the passer the first scoring option. In this way, he gets rewarded for giving the ball up. Second, it sends a message to the entire team that we are always on attack, we always attack North-South and put pressure on the defense. The X-cut takes that scoring option away from the passer and focuses on East-West movement as the primary motion (which is easier to defend).

4. There is decision making in the Read & React, but it comes in later layers and typically is only applicable after the basket cut (when there’s more time). The reason for that goes back to the decisive and aggressive argument. After the basket cut, there’s more time to survey the lay of the land and choose what the next best action is. From here, you can stop in the post, set a back screen, fill out, set a pin screen, use a pin screen, etc.

If you try to turn the Read & React into Bob Knight’s Motion Offense, you’re going to be disappointed and frustrated. The Read & React is not just another motion offense and can’t be treated as such. Trust me, there are tons of ways to add your personality, tweaks, variations into the offense without violating the principles that give the R&R strength.

Ultimately it’s an engineering problem – you can’t make a laptop with unlimited memory and a 52″ screen while keeping it portable. In the same way, you can’t put unlimited options in an offense and keep it focused and sharp. (dshuring does a great job in the sixth post on this forum thread of using football as an analogy to make the same point.)

If the forum threads are any indication, I know you have opinions on this. Either continue with those forum threads or let us know in the comments section.


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about rick torbett

Rick Torbett has taught thousands of coaches to win more games through his innovative approach to the game. He has created powerful training for coaches at any level so they can coach their best and win more games.

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Read & React 5-Player Coordination Drills

Enter your email address to get an inside look at teaching the Read & React Offense with the drills in this free video.