Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Mackay single-double gaps

Mike MacKay
Use backcuts and blast cuts to create double gaps for dribble penetration (see Progressions for basket cuts). Spacing creates gaps, cutting creates bigger gaps.
See Offence - 5-out youth motion, Blog Post - 5-Out Dribble Penetration, Tactics - Creating Gaps.

5-out offence is used by many youth teams. The problem is that the spacing is single gaps.

When there is a stationary pass, the defender is closer to the ball than the pass receiver, which often allows a steal.

A second issue is that on dribble penetration into a single gap, a defender can quickly help and recover to their check.

One advantage of 5-out spacing is a backdoor pass. If help arrives to take away a pass at the rim, the other option is a pass to a perimeter player (here 4).

Adam Spinella - Hoiberg 5-Out Concepts - 5-out spacing allows for backcuts, the rim is vacated.

Gregg Popovich - if denied anywhere on the court, go backdoor and continue in the direction you were going.

Chris Krauss - Motion Concepts - he doesn't like cuts all the way through, cut to the middle, read what's going on, you might have to come back, or relocate.

A backcut (or basket cut) to the rim is a scoring opportunity, then exit cut but first read what's going on (e.g. react to a drive or shot).
Hal Wissel - keep the middle open, when you cut to the basket, don't stay in the post area for more than a one-count, fill an open spot on the side of the floor with the fewest players.

A lot of teams play sag defence against this type of offence, no backdoors are available.

How can we give the offence an advantage? We like to create a double gap by cutting a player.

MacKay - How to Teach Cutting - in a single gap, backcut immediately if you are looked at, dribbled at, or pivoted at.

Alex Sarama -Teaching Offensive Concepts - if you are in a single gap, create a double gap for a teammate so they can blast cut. Blast cuts are made from a double gap into a single gap, and give you a speed advantage.


Use a double gap for a blast cut or dribble penetration.


4 blast cuts into the double gap for a pass, putting the defence in motion. 4 has a chance to play dynamic 1-on-1, reading the defence before catching the ball and attacking immediately on the catch, here baseline.

2 exits the paint weakside.


1 does not basket cut after passing, 4 attacks immediately. The blast cut creates baseline space behind 4, who drives into the open space.

How to Teach Cutting - back cut and blast cut to fill behind (it's hard for X4 to help on the backcut by 2 and contest the blast cut by 4).

How to Teach Youth Motion - automatic drives are a) draft drives (follow a cutter), b) real-estate drives (the spot next to you is empty), c) your defender steps over the 3-point line.

Mike MacKay - Read and React Offence - if you are in the key when the ball is being driven to the basket and the ball enters the lane below you, go to the elbows. Or 2 could back-pedal to the short corner, 5 fills the weakside 45-degree angle, 3 fills the 90-degree angle above the ballside elbow, and 1 is the safety moving in behind.


1 can drive the double gap, breaks the foul line, 4 clears behind (away from X4), gets a pass, 1 exits to the corner.


To maintain the double gap, 4 would hold in the corner (for a two-count), then blast cut.

Basketball NSW - a cut that is made toward the basket creates space behind for a second cutter, or for the ballhandler to "drive on the back of the cutter".

See Offences - Dribble-drive outline, 5-out dribble-drive motion.

4 has a double gap middle and a long closeout by X4.

Don't freeze the ball and let the help defence set up. Keep the offence moving, the first option is to keep cutting, 3 cuts (a static backcut from a double gap), 5 can go dynamic 1-on-1 into a double gap.


5 does not delay the blast cut, 4 already had a chance to attack a double gap. The cut by 5 creates another double gap, and 2 delays a fill behind to keep the gap.

Read and React - fill open spots above you. Do not be too quick to fill this space as it takes away the penetration of the player with the ball.

5 attacks and passes if he doesn't have anything.

3 exits opposite the drive.


4 does not cut after passing, 5 has a double gap and attacks immediately.

Another option is a blast cut by 2 into the double gap (a blast cut can set up another blast cut).

Read and React - if you are in the key when the ball is being driven to the basket and the ball enters the lane above you, go to the short corner.

Coach Daniel - Future of Offence - 4 guys out and one guy in the dunker spot is still 5-out spacing to him.

4 can "dribble centre", it's like a pass, moving the ball with the dribble.

3 makes a backcut when dribbled at.

There is a double gap on each side when 4 picks up the ball (1 does not follow behind).


Doug Novak - Offensive Philosophy - nothing can stop the ball from moving. If you can't swing the ball, dribble at the next offensive player for a backdoor or throw behind [a pitch or DHO]. If you can't throw behind, look to snapback where you dribbled from.up


Against sagging defences, use basket cuts to create double gaps, along with backcuts and blast cuts. A basket cut or backcut opens up a "draft" drive or a blast cut, a blast cut opens up a "real-estate" drive or another blast cut. Delay a fill cut to maintain a gap for dribble penetration.

Here 1 passes to 2 and basket cuts.

2 has a double gap to drive middle, 3 will give 2 a two-count before replacing 1 (a delayed fill cut).

Read and React - after passing to a teammate one pass away, run a basket cut (front cut or back cut). When leaving the basket find the open spot, usually a corner.

How to Teach Cutting - double-gap spacing gives 2 space to penetrate, but also 3 space to make a blast cut, which is a cut straight to the ball (beat your defender with a speed cut).

Mike McNeill - Teaching Motion Offence to Young Players - every time a player passes the ball they should be a cutter first, stepping towards the pass, prepared to cut (or create a screening angle). Cut to the front of the rim with speed. When you receive a pass, hold the ball for a one count to see the cutter all the way to the basket.

Lason Perkins - when replacing the cutter, wait until the ballhandler is done looking at the cutter.

Mads Olesen - when you pass the ball on the perimeter, cut through to the basket and out the other side of penetration.

Lisa Thomaidis - Basic Offence for Youth Basketball - every cut must be a scoring cut.



2 can drive middle, behind 1's cut (a draft drive).

This is a static 1-on-1 but into a double gap.

Teaching Offensive Concepts - a double/triple gap, match-up advantage, or late clock is a green-light situation in a static 1-on-1.


2 swings the ball to 4 and basket cuts.

3 fills the top of the key (leaving a double gap).

4 can attack behind 2's cut.
MacKay - fill to a double gap.

3 blast cuts for a pass after a two-count.

The blast cut creates a double gap behind 3, 5 holds the wing to maintain the gap.

3 attacks the double gap with a real-estate drive, or 5 can blast cut after a two-count.


2 does not attack, 3 blast cuts after a two-count.

This is an attacking action, 3 can catch and shoot, drive left or right, or backcut. Otherwise 5 will blast cut.


3 catches and immediately attacks left. 2 breaks off a basket cut (or does not start to cut). 1 exits opposite the drive.

The blast cut creates a double gap behind 3 for a "real-estate" drive, 5 holds the corner to maintain the gap and reads the play.

McNeill - 3 and the ball should arrive at the same time.

How to Teach Cutting - 3 blast cuts when there is a connection (2 makes eyes contact), shortens the pass, 2 can make a single-gap pass.


2 passes and basket cuts, creating a double gap, 4 holds the corner to the maintain the gap.

5 holds the other corner.


2 exits opposite a drive by 3.

Here 3 draft drives behind 2's cut.


5 blast cuts after a two-count, 3 passes and basket cuts, 4 fills to a double gap weakside.

5 can attack the double gap, or 4 blast cuts after a two-count.

Hal Wissel - draw and kick is best used from the wing after the ball has been swung from the other side.


3 blast cuts then backcuts, a dynamic backcut, creating a triple gap.

5 does not delay filling the top, 2 had a double gap to attack, don't stall the ball. Does a teammate need help or space?
NSW open-post motion - cutting on the back of a cutter is effective.up

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