The swing offense, made popular by Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, is a very effective offense when executed properly. The players must make precise cuts and set solid screens. With the swing offense, it is also essential that the timing of the cuts, screens and passes be performed in good manner.
1) The Swing Offense
This diagram shows the beginning setup and positions for the players when running the swing offense.
The point guard (1) brings the ball up on the right side of the court. You can also bring the ball up on the left side, but our preference is to bring it up on the right. The other 2 guards (2 and 3) set up on the wings. One of the post players will go to the low block (5), while the other post player (4) will set up opposite the point guard. 4 and 5 will get most of the rebounds, therefore in most cases, the rebounder will be the last one up the court. It should also be noted that these positions can differ if needed. Since all players will play in each position, it does not matter who (position-wise) is on the floor. As an example, if you have four guards and one post player, that is certainly adequate.
The following diagrams will show the basic movements of the swing offense. The swing offense is designed to utilize the advantages the offensive team may have over the defense to get high percentage shots from all areas of the court.
2) To begin the swing offense, start in the basic swing positions.
When #1 brings the ball up the basketball court, he can look initially to #5 (5 may be able to seal his defender). Most often though, #1 will initiate the swing offense with a pass to #3. #3 may have to make a V-cut in order to get open.
On the weakside, #2 and #4 will interchange. This is done to keep the weakside defense active and less in a position to help.
Note: Notice the triangle formed by the three offensive players on the ballside. One of the rules of the swing offense is that there should always be a triangle on the ballside. Most of the time this occurs with a backscreen or a cut; however, if the offense breaks down (wrong cut, wrong screen, etc…) a player will have to recognize and get to a position on the floor to create a triangle.
3) Once #3 has received the pass from #1, he will look inside to #5. #5 should be posting up on the low block. If #5 is not open, he immediately sets an upscreen for #1.
#1 uses the screen and makes a basket cut, looking for a layup or post up. (#1 should use the screen and can cut to either side of #5, depending on the position of the defender).
4) As mentioned in the previous diagram, #3 will look to pass to #1 on the cut or in the post. If #1 is not open, #3 will pass to #5 (who has replaced #1 at the top). #5 will look for a high-low pass to 1 on the low block. #1 will try to seal his defender to the outside.
During this action, #2 will set a fade screen for #4.
5) If #1 is not open for the high-low pass, #5 should look for #4 off the fade screen or #2, who has opened up to the ball after setting the screen.
#1 will set a backscreen for #3 and then open up to the basketball. (Stepping toward the lane, looking for a pass).
#4 or #2 (whoever has received the pass from #5) will look for #3 in the low post or for #1 in the middle.
6) The swing offense has now completed one sequence and the basketball is now on the left side of the court. The players should now be set up the same as the start, except now the triangle is on the left.
If #1 did not receive the pass (as shown in last diagram), he replaces #3 on the right wing. To begin the swing again, #2 passes to #4 as #5 and #1 interchange on the weakside.
7) If #3 is not open on the low block, he immediately sets the upscreen for #2. #4 will look to pass to #2 on the basket cut or in the low post.
8) After the upscreen, #3 replaces #2 at the top. #4 then looks for #2 in the low post and then #3 at the top.
#5 sets a fade screen for #1 on the weakside.
9) #3 will look for #1 off the fade screen or make the pass to #5 at the top.
#2 sets the backscreen for #4, then steps middle, looking for potential pass from #5 or #1.
10) #2 will fill the open wing.
As you can see, we are now set up on the right side of the court — just as we began the initial set. The players may be in a different position, but the setup is the same.
11) The previous diagrams showed the basics of the swing offense. As you can probably tell, the main objective is to get the basketball into the low post. The players will rotate through all of the positions, so it is essential to have guards that can post up and finish; as well as having post players that can do the same!
The player in the post should also be a good passer. He may have to kick it back out to the wing; you can also have the weakside wing cut in, looking for a quick backdoor pass. For instance, in this diagram #4 has the basketball. #2 could look to sneak in if his defender has his head turned toward the basketball. #3 may also be able to sneak in down the lane.
As you can see, many variables can and should take place in the swing offense. However, the overall execution must remain the same. There should always be a triangle on the ballside. With a good triangle, the person with the ball will always have a person on his right to pass to and a person on his left to pass to.
With proper execution and fundamentals, the swing offense can be very difficult to defend.
More on the Swing Offense:
Get Swing Offense with Bo Ryan for a more in-depth look into the Swing and Quick Striking Entries Into the Swing Offense with Bo Ryan for set plays and entries into the Swing, — available now at the Hoops U. Basketball Store!