Winning With the Flex Offense

In 1993 a Willamette University Bearcat program entered the NAIA Division II National Championship under the leadership of seasoned coach Gordie James and won the national title behind the hardened, but often forgot flex offense. Derived from an earlier version of the shuffle cut offense, the flex hit the basketball scene in 1970 and was widely known for its structured pattern allowing for cross screens through the paint and a series of screen-the-screener actions to produce sound looks at the basket.

Today the flex offense is used in many fashions. The University of Maryland’s Gary Williams won an NCAA National Championship in 2002 on the back of the flex continuity offense. Many others would soon follow suit; Coach Bo Ryan at Wisconsin University, Mark Few at Gonzaga, and Al Skinner at Boston College have all twisted the flex offense to find success in their respective conferences.

While many in the college ranks have found success using the flex, it remains a popular staple in high school and junior high programs around the nation. Coach McKinnis of Coach Mac’s Basketball e-Playbooks used a monster flex to guide his men’s program to a regular season #1 ranking in the state of Oregon class 2A poll in 2004. Furthermore, high school coaches across the country love the flex offense for its characteristics:

• Extremely effective against a man-to-man defense.

• Can be used against an odd front zone defense.

• All players on the floor are interchangeable in the offense.

• Very good offensive strategy for teams with average ability.

• Can control tempo of the game.

• Excellent baseline scoring option.

The flex offense is a continuity offense, which can be rotated between a 5 or 4 man flexing action. It can also be very compact creating a very physical action for teams who have a great deal of power. In all the flex created in 1970 is the backbone of many successful basketball programs and should be considered by any coach looking for success.

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