Read & React Offense Guide

Read & React Offense

The Read & React Offense was developed by Coach Rick Torbett. He created an offense made up of many layers based around players being able to read the action of their teammates and react accordingly.

It is a system of two-player reads that ties into a seamless five-player offense. The Read & React is simple enough it can be mastered after constant repetition which is the key to success with this offense. After mastering the layers, it comes down to your players having solid fundamentals. If their fundamentals are strong then you’ll be able to execute flawlessly and vice versa.

In this article, we’re going to take a deeper dive into the Read & React Offense. We’ll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this offense, but our main focus will be the 20 layers that make up this offense. By the time you finish this article, you’ll know all the layers of this offense and if it's the right game plan for your team. Rent all the Read & React Offense DVDs without a subscription.

What are you looking for in an offense?

Strengths of the Read & React Offense

  • Flexible Personnel. Some offenses require a certain type of personnel, but this offense is flexible depending on what type of players on your team. It can be used with no post players or skilled post players. It can be used with different sets like a 5-Out or a 3-Out 2-In. Essentially, you can make this offense work for anything and everything.
  • Strong fundamentals. The key to the Read & React Offense isn’t size or speed but the execution of fundamentals. For this offense to be successful, your players must excel at the basics: spacing, passing, cutting, movement, and other fundamentals. If your team can do these basic actions well then your team has a good chance to score every offensive possession.
  • Freedom to Play. The Read & React Offense lets players play and allows them to do what they’re best at doing. This can be a downside because it does lack control, but it gives your players freedom to make the offense happen and not overthink any movements.
  • Difficult to Defend. The defense can be beat in so many different ways with the Read & React Offense regardless of how they try to stop it. There’s a counter to anything the defense does so take what the defense gives you and make them pay.

Weaknesses of the Read & React Offense

  • Spaces the Court. Spacing is very important in this offense, but once the game gets going you will start to see your players moving closer and closer. You have to instill in your team the discipline to keep the proper spacing. The right spacing forces the defense to make decisions on how to stop the play that is unfolding. If players keep the floor spaced then it’s going to be a long night for the defense.
  • Hard to Balance Learning. The Read & React Offense is made up of 17 layers which takes time to teach because you want every layer to become habit before moving on to the next. With this in mind, it can be hard to balance the learning because players will learn at different speeds. Do you move on to the next layer if a few players still don’t understand the current layer? These are type of decisions you’ll face when teaching this offense.
  • Difficult to Execute. This offense can be hard to understand at first because it relies on reading and reacting. It may take time to learn and understand what to do without Coach telling them exactly what to do.

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Read & React Offense Overview

The Read & React Offense is made up of 17 layers that builds skill as you go. It has specific reactions for specific reads which means your players have freedom but within disciplined habits.

Every action and reaction in this offense is based off the ball-handler. The player with the ball in their hands is the initiator while the rest of the players are the reactors. The reactors aren’t just free to do whatever they want; instead they have a trained response for each specific action of the initiator.

This is where the layers come into play - the reads and reactions.

The 20 Layers of the Read & React Offense

The Read & React Offense is made up of 20 layers. If you're a youth team, you may only use 3 layers. A successful college team may only use the first 6 layers. But there are 20 layers if you need them. For every action the ball can take, the players without the ball have one and only one reaction. That means no decisions - just react the way it's drilled. This ties everyone's movement together for maximum advantage of the entire team.

Therefore, you want these layers drilled so much they become automatic habit for your players. They don't have to think about what to do - they know what to do.

Now let’s talk about the 20 teaching layers!

Read & React Offense Layers


Layer 1 - Pass and Cut

Every time a pass is made one player away, the passer always basket cuts. The goal is to make every pass into a scoring threat and a basket cut makes that happen. With every basket cut requires the defense to help off a little which can create opportunities for other perimeter players.

Just remember this layer does not apply to skip passes.

Layer 2 - Post Pass & Cut (North and South)

Layer 2 is much like the first except the pass goes into the post. This layer occurs when perimeter player passes into the post then makes a cut going north and south.

These cuts are:

  • Laker-Cut Low - basket cut below low block along the baseline
  • Laker-Cut High - basket cut goes above ball side elbow

Layer 1 Demo

Layer 3 - Dribble At - Back Cut

Another dribble action, but instead of attacking the basket the ball-handler is dribbling towards another perimeter player. When this read happens, the perimeter player the ball-handler is dribbling at back cuts to the basket.

This dribble at read and reaction creates movement for this offense which could lead to scoring opportunities inside with your back cutter or outside with perimeter players filling open spots.

Layer 4 - Dribble Penetration & Circle Movement

Layer 4 teaches the reaction of perimeter players when dribble penetration occurs. Depending on the direction of penetration, all players on the perimeter will either circle right or left.

Essentially, the players will circle in the direction of penetration. With this movement, the ball handler will have options: take the ball to the basket, kick out to teammate on the perimeter, pass back to player filling behind, or pass to the baseline cutter.

Layer 5 - Post Player Adjustments to Dribble Penetration

This layer focuses on post players and the adjustments they make when there’s dribble penetration. Post players will have 2 basic reads - regardless if the post is playing on ball side or weak side.

  • Ball enters the lane above the post player: post player sides to the short corner area opening up the lane for ball-handler
  • Ball enters the lane from the baseline or blow the post player: post player slides up to the free throw line elbow area for ball-handler.

Layer 3 and Layer 4 Combo Drill

Layer 5 Game Film

Layer 6 - Baseline Dribble Penetration & Corner Fill

Layer 6 is also focused on dribble penetration but this is when the drive is going baseline. One a baseline drive, the opposite corner does not circle up like the rest of the perimeter players. Instead, they fill the opposite corner. This is a natural passing lane for the player driving baseline which means no matter what the opposite corner can’t be empty.

The closest player on opposite side fills the corner and the other perimeter players fill other kick out options and safety pass, but the only real adjustment is filling the opposite corner.

Layer 7 - Pin & Skip

This is the only layer that does NOT require a reaction based on a action. Your players will read the weak side help and alignment to set their pin screen. Essentially, the pin screen is set on the player closes to the ball with the most distance to recover.

Once the skip pass is made, your player can catch and shoot or feed the pinner who has sealed the defender in the post.

This layer will probably be introduced as part of your game plan against Zone defenses.

Layer 8 - Circle Reverse

Layer 8 refers to the reaction that takes place when dribble penetration is shut down by the defense. As in Layer 1, when dribble penetration happens the perimeter players begin the circle movement. When they see the dribble penetration is stopped by the defense, the offense reverses the circle movement to help the ball-handler.

It's best to teach your team to keep their dribble alive, but that doesn't always happen when it's a game time. The Circle Reverse is important to drill because it gives your players way to help their teammate out of a bad action by coming back to get the ball.

Layer 9 - Post Screens

This layer is generally only used when you’re running a base set with a post in the low block. Post player can constantly be setting back screens for the cutters and then looking to shape up after screens.

By setting a solid screen the post player could be getting cutters open for a pass and score. Or after the screening by shaping up, it could lead to a post pass and cut for other scoring opportunity. Either way, it keeps up movement on the offensive end to make the defense work.

Layer 6 Drill

Layer 7 Game Film


Layer 10 - Back Screens

Layer 10 is an important layer to the success of the Read & React Offense. After every basket cut, players must set a back screen for a teammate. If a player basket cuts and doesn’t have an empty spot to fill then they can set a back screen as a way to create and fill an empty spot.

Layer 11 - Multiple Stagger Screens

This layer is an unintentional reaction that occurs when one player is setting a back screen and another perimeter player has started a basket cut. If the second player basket cutting recognizes this situation then they should take advantage of it by following the back screener to set up the multiple stagger screens.

Layer 12 - Ball Screen - Power-Back Dribble

The ball-handler reverses their dribble away from the goal, or in other words a Power-Back Dribble. This read signals a Sprint Ball Screen where your post player sprints to the ball and sets a screen.

As this happens, everyone should fill up quickly and get ready to Circle Move in whatever direction the ball-handler uses the screen.

Layer 13 - Post Pass & Cut (East and West)

Much like Layer 2, this layer occurs when perimeter player passes into the post then makes a cut going east and west.

These cuts are:

  • Relocate: when passer sees their defender double down on the post they should relocate to the corner for an open pass
  • X-Cut: passer sets a screen for guard above passer then cuts to the basket

Basically, NO ONE is in the adjacent spot, passer will simply RELOCATE. However, if a teammate occupies the adjacent spot, then passer will screen for that teammate, then X-CUT.

Layer 14 - Corner (Pass & Cut)

If the defense bodies you and prevents you from basket cutting then square the corner and do one of two things:

  • Fill-Out to nearest open spot
  • Back Screen your way out

Layer 15 - Power Dribble - Handoff

The power dribble signals a dribble handoff followed by a pick and roll. The key to this layer is making the power dribble so obvious that your teammates do not mistake it for a speed dribble. You do this by turning your back to your defender to dribble at teammate. When a post player sees this read, they come up to set a pick and roll for the person receiving the handoff.

Layer 16 - Advanced Post Reactions

This layer is an advanced reaction following Layer 4 in regards to post reactions to dribble penetration. You want dribble penetration to happen without posts clogging up the lane.

  • Ball enters the lane above the post player: post player sides to the short corner area opening up the lane for ball-handler. If post defender follows to short corner then post player should rear cut towards basket.

Layer 10 Drills

Layer 12 Drills

Layer 13 Game Film


Layer 17 - Transition Offense

Transition offense is how to get from defense and flow into the Read & React Offense seamlessly. The goal is seamless transition between fast break and half court offense so you never give the defense a chance to regroup.

Layer 18 - Press Break

The offense will use the spots from half court and simply extend them to a full court press break. The same philosophies apply in the full-court.

The rule is: keep an open spot between you and a teammate with an exception of the back court middle.

To break a press with the Read and React Offense, you can use the Pass & Cut layer and the Dribble-At layer. In both of these layers, the reactions are playing going to the middle of the floor which is exactly what you need to break the press.

Layer 19 - Full-Court Trips

The goal of this layer is to put together one full-court trip at a time. Once you can get one trip completed then work towards putting back-to-back full-court trips together.

Layer 20 - Flowing Naturally from Set to Set

By this layer your team should be masters of the Read & React defense - they can complete every layer while transitioning seamlessly from fast break to half court offense while flowing naturally from different sets within a single possession. One pass, your team is in 5-Out and two passes later they’re using a 3-Out 2-In. If your team gets to this point then they are truly the hardest team to defend.

Layer 18 Game Film

Layer 19 Drills

Learn More

The Read & React Offense has the potential to be unstoppable for your team against any defense. We have given you the foundation to implement this into your game plan, but there’s always more to learn.

A great tool for any coach is learning directly from the creator, Rick Torbett in his Read & React Offense DVD. His instructional DVD provides you with a solid foundation of what it takes to execute this offense and goes into great detail about the layers and drills.

Want more from Rick Torbett? Check out these DVDs as well!

If you want to learn even more about the Read & React Offense, check out for DVDs you can download or rent.

What is the Read & React Offense?

The Read & React is an Offense that is adaptable to both man to man and zone defense. It can be ran at any level of play. Check out our complete guide here.

How Do You Teach the Read & React Offense?

Teaching the Read & React Offense is typically done by running drills that teach the actions of the offense. For example, the first layer is Pass & Cut so coaches will have players do layup drills that simulate this action in the offense. You can see how the creator Rick Torbett teaches the offense in his DVDs which you can rent here.

How Many Layers is there in the Read & React Offense?

There are 20 layers in the Read & React Offense. Rent the Read & React Offense DVD to learn all of the layers and how to teach them.

What Sets Do You Run the Read & React Out Of?

The Read & React Offense can be ran out of these sets:

  • 5 Out
  • 4 Out 1 In
  • 3 Out 2 In

These sets can all be ran against man or zone defense.

Sep 20, 2022 Coach Chris

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