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Over the last few years, the teams at Wisconsin under Bo Ryan as well as many other teams in the state have been successful with the Swing Offense.  The Swing Offense is a variation of the Flex Offense with many other variations designed to take better advantage of post-up opportunities and to control the tempo of the game with a slower pace.

Advantages of the Swing Offense

One of the the advantages of the Swing Offense is that it does such a good job of controlling tempo.  Most shots in the Swing Offense come in the final seconds of the shot clock in college basketball.  With the offense monopolizing control of the basketball, the other team cannot score.  With your team controlling the basketball, you can control the tempo and force teams to play to your pace as opposed to your team having to adjust to the desired tempo of the other team.

Second, the Swing Offense allows you to take advantage of personnel that is not only capable of playing on the perimeter and in the post, but is also physical in nature.  Wisconsin has used the Swing Offense to get their players to play both spots, but they also use their strength advantage to help them win games.  The Swing Offense allows for this to be possible with a more physical team wear down their opponents without having to get into a running game.

Finally, the Swing Offense allows you to get three-point shots and lay-ups almost exclusively.  Because of this, your team will be shooting more high-percentage shots.  If you are able to shoot more high-percentage shots and make more of those shots than your opponent, you will win more often than not.

Disadvantages of the Swing Offense

The first big disadvantage of the Swing Offense is that the tempo is such that it requires the game to be kept close by the team running it if they fall behind.  Because the Swing Offense is not built to come from behind, the team that runs it has to not let the game get too far out of hand against them.  If the game gets out of hand against a team running this offense, there is a real possibility the game could be over because of a ten-plus point deficit early in the game.

Because the offense requires all five players to play all five positions, all five players must have near-similar skill sets.  All five players must be capable of handling the basketball on the perimeter, coming off of cuts, and posting up low.  If you have players who struggle at any of these, this offense will fail you and it will not work very well.

Basic Movements of the Swing Offense

The starting of the offense has two players on top, two players positioned at the free throw line-extended and a player posted between the player at the ball-side wing and the basket (Diagram 1).  All five of the positions in the Swing Offense are interchangeable, but the five positions are the same throughout the entire offense.

Diagram 1

To initiate the action in the offense, the point guard can make one of three choices: he can pass the ball to the forward positioned at the wing, reverse the basketball to the other forward coming off of a down screen, or he can hit the screener slipping off of the down screen (Diagram 2).


Anytime the ball is passed from the guard position to the forward position, the post will set a back screen for the guard who made the pass (Diagram 3).  The player in the forward position can either hit the cutter or pass the ball to the screener who fills the guard spot.


If the ball is passed from guard-to-guard, we will run a baseline flex cut as shown in Diagram 4.  Unlike the Flex Offense, the Swing Offense does not down screen unless the ball is passed from guard-to-guard-to-forward.  The reason is that we are looking to get a post-up when we reverse the basketball.


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