A Quick rundown of the 5 Out Basketball Offense

The 5 out basketball offense is a widely effective offensive strategy in basketball. It’s not uncommon to see variations of the 5 out offense in youth leagues right up to the NBA.

In this post, we take a deeper look at how the 5 out works and how coaches and players use the 5 out to their advantage. Our focus is a broad understanding of the 5 out offense. By the end, you should be able to spot the 5 out strategy in a game and clearly understand why it’s being used and how a defense might counter.

Even as a spectator, understanding the 5 out strategy can improve your appreciation of the game. But we’ll also cover some tips for implementation if you’re looking to incorporate this offense into your coaching toolkit. And we’ll also make sure and point you in the right direction to learn more.

Let’s get started…

What is the 5 Out Basketball Offense?

Starting with the bird’s eye view here, what exactly is a 5 out basketball offense?

The 5 offense out is ultimately a subset of the motion offense, popularized by Bobby Knight in the 70’s. The goal of the 5 out is to stretch out a defense on the court, creating space for an attack. While this is a feature of motion offense in general, the 5 out is perhaps the most extreme version of the concept, placing your entire offense at the perimeter.

Initiating a 5 out basketball offense

You should already get the idea, just from the name. All of your players are out around the perimeter, ‘5 out’. It’s also sometimes referred to as an open post offense, equally self-explanatory.

5 out basketball offense initial positioning

And just about everything else you need to know about the 5 out offense can be reasoned out from this initial positioning.

Let’s add some defense to see what that might look like…

5 out basketball offense initial positioning with defense

If you’re the on-ball defender (X1) you are probably playing tight coverage. You want to discourage a drive down the lane or an uncontested 3, even if the ball handler is a weak shooter.

The wing defenders are also playing close, knowing that their matchup is just one pass away from the ball and maybe looking to cut.

The corner defenders can sag off a little, but not too much. They’re in the passing lane and ready to close out if needed.

So the entire defense is pulled out away from the center lane. If you’re working with an offense that can shoot from the perimeter, well then the defense is stretched even further. The more of a threat you can present at the perimeter, the more effectively you can draw out those defenders.

Now, there are coaches who chose to run a 2-3 zone against the 5 out offense, weakening the front line to bolster defense in the paint. This could be effective if you have a couple of great perimeter defenders to send out front, or the offense isn’t a perimeter threat.

Either way, the defense is going to be stretched, hopefully to its breaking point.

The Movement

With that initial formation sorted out, we can run through some typical actions. We know that the 5 out formation is effective at spreading a defense thin. Now, how can we use movement to further exploit that weakness?

Keep in mind that one of the core functions of a motion offense is to generate open looks. That is, you want to move around your players and the ball at a strong and steady clip until the ball ends up with a player who has a good, clean shot.

And the 5 out offense will generate a variety of shots, 3 pointers, mid-range jumpers, layups, etc. All of your players should be encouraged to take these open shots when they become available.

And that’s a big chunk of the beauty of a motion offense like the 5 out. You’re generating looks for all of your players in a systematic fashion. It’s wonderfully democratic.

Swinging and Cutting

One of your most basic tricks in this formation is going to be to swing the ball out to a wing and cut for the basket. It’s a simple movement that forces the already stretched defense to adjust quickly.

Here’s a pass to the left wing…

basic cut in a 5 out basketball offense

Your ball handler dishes off to the wing and cuts around their defender, down to the baseline and out to the weak side corner. But as this occurs, the wing and corner are shifting up along the perimeter to re-establish that ‘5 out’ formation.

You could just as easily send the strong side corner down the baseline. Or maybe the weak side wing cuts and swaps positions with 5 in the corner.

With the ball on the wing, you can continue the swing to the corner for a new look and new cutting opportunities.

It’s not hard to find a coach who strongly favors specific plays out of a 5 out offense. But there are just so many and there’s just not any specific plan that will work for all ages and experience levels, so you’ll want to experiment and find what works for you.


Basic cuts can get a 5 out offense moving effectively in plenty of situations. Throw in some screens to level up.

One of the more common on-ball screen plays you’ll see out of a 5 out offense. The top dishes off to a wing, then sets a screen for the wing to attack the lane. If a shooting opportunity doesn’t reveal itself here, the driver can kick the ball back out.

5 out motion offense top to wing on-ball screen.

The efficient move here is to pass to the weak side and escape back to the corner with 4 cutting up to the wing. But they could also pass to 4 and cut back to the top position to reset the 5 out.

Take that same initial move and turn it into an off-ball screening opportunity. After passing to the wing, the initial ball handler cuts to set a screen for the opposite wing.

5 out basketball motion offense top to wing off-ball screen

The hope is that this creates enough separation for the opposite wing that they can collect a clean pass on the way to the basket for a finish. But again, if the cutter doesn’t find a great scoring opportunity, they can kick out to the corner or back to the wing and cut back to the perimeter to rest the system.


A 5 out offense is a great place to start when building a knowledge base of basketball strategy. It’s a common offense, so you’ll find no shortage of examples to feed from. The core concept is quite simple, making it relatively easy to build an intuitive knowledge of this strategy.

If you’re running a 5 out, use every bit of your toolkit to attack into the scoring zone. Study some of the common progressions. Develop the movements that work well for your team’s experience level. But don’t limit yourself. Play on the conceptual strategy here to throw all kinds of looks at your opponent.

The 5 out basketball offense is an insanely versatile system. It can create all kinds of scoring opportunities for an entire team. A great system to study and understand because it is so common and versatile.