The dribble drive motion offense is relatively young, originally developed by Vance Walberg in the late 1990s while he was the head coach of boy’s basketball at Clovis High School in Fresno, California.
Walberg used to take a week out of each year to travel to see a legendary coach do their thing so he could soak it all in. When John Calipari was still at Memphis, Walberg made the trek out to watch him work. Walberg shared with him the dribble drive motion offense he’d invented, and Calipari soon rewrote his playbook and implemented the system into his program with a few unique quirks. It was a rousing success and helped lift the Tigers to an appearance in the 2008 national championship game.
The dribble drive motion offense, also known as the AASAA offense – which stands for attack, attack, skip, attack, attack – has since become more widespread. Walberg continued to carry it with him when he became the Pepperdine men’s basketball head coach and into the NBA assistant jobs he held in the mid-2010s.
So, how does it work?
Dribble Drive Motion Offense Explained
The goal of the AASAA is create high-percentage shots, draw fouls, open up floor space, and give your players the freedom to make on-the-fly decisions on the court. It encourages constant aggressiveness, which can be overwhelming for a defense to handle. It will allow expert ball handlers with high basketball IQs to dictate the tempo and slice defenses apart.
Above all, the objective of the dribble drive motion offense is to move the defense.
How It Works
There are different variations, but let’s go with how the dribble drive motion offense operates in a 4-out 1-in set and how it operates in its most simple form.
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From here, there are multiple ways the 1 can begin the possession based upon what the defense is allowing. The first option is to attack the basket, especially if they have a mismatch. 1 should look for a layup or a pass to 5 if the defense rotates over. If neither of those options are available, then 1 passes to the 2 or 3 on the perimeter as they slide away from the baseline toward the top of the key. Once 2 or 3 received the ball, they should look to shoot or attack the basket immediately depending upon what the defense has left available.
If passes to 2 and 3 aren’t open, then 1 turn and get the ball back to 4, who has moved to where 1 originally started to be a last-resort safety option. If it comes to that, then 1 clears out to the weak side and 3 slides to where 4 originally started.
If 1 doesn’t like their matchup for the drive at the start, then they pass the ball to 4, then cut through the key to the strong corner while 2 comes up along the wing toward the top of the perimeter. 3 steps slightly inside along the three-point line, and 5 remains in the block area, ready to catch the ball or take up a rebounding position at any moment.
When 4 gets the ball, they immediately look to attack. The same rotations occur as when 1 attacked, and the possession continues with the offense continuing to search for a weakness to exploit.
Dribble Drive Motion Offense Rules
- Layup First: the major point of the AASAA offense is to generate good looks at the rim. The first thing on a player’s mind should always be to do whatever will get their team a layup. Penetrating off the dribble is the priority.
- Post Player Stays Weakside: 5 must always pay attention to which side of the floor the ball is on and constantly be occupying the opposite, unless told otherwise. If 5 is on the strong side, it will mess with floor spacing and teammates’ ability to drive, which is the entire point of the offense.
- Spacing: none of this works if the floor isn’t spaced and spaced well. Players off the ball have to be constantly considering their distance from their teammates and not clog the lane. Unless they’re 5 or driving, players should remain behind the three-point line.
- Movement: this applies to both the player with the ball and those without it. If you have the ball, you cannot hold it. The dribble drive motion offense only works when the offense is in constant motion and the defense has to try to keep up. If the ball sticks to one spot, the defense can set and the momentum the offense generates is killed. Players cannot pass and stand so the defense has to keep moving.
Should My Team Run the AASAA Offense?
The answer to this question is dependent upon your team’s personnel and how you want your team’s games to go.
Do you want slow, methodical possessions focused on post play and scoring in the low block? Then this offense won’t do you much good. A team that is centered around post production isn’t suited for the dribble drive motion offense.
Do you want fast, quick possessions focused on moving the defense with a lot of responsibilities on your guards/ball handlers? Then you should have an open mind about the AASAA, especially if you have good free throw shooters on your squad.
It’s also important to note the weaknesses of this system. Teams that run this offense are more likely to commit turnovers, it can be difficult to some players to maintain proper floor spacing for it to work (remember the high basketball IQ comment from earlier), it can encourage over dribbling, and players might settle for jumpers too often. Consider if your personnel is likely to fall into these traps before implementing the dribble drive motion offense.
But if your roster can be positionless offensively, you have aggressive ball handlers who love getting to the tin, capable shooting, and a group of hoopers who have a good feel for spacing and where they should be on the court at any given time, then you should give the AASAA some thought. When run well, it can be wildly successful.
Some other offenses that might make sense for your team are the flex offense and Princeton offense. Depending on your personnel, league, level, and coaching style, one of those could be better suited for your team.