The RGB of the Read and React Offense (part 1 of 5)

BasketballogyMy first attempt to teach the Read and React offense pretty much failed. The guys did fine with it in practice, but tended to abandon it in the heat of real games.

The next time I taught Read and React, I tried a different layer order (teaching the passing layers first), and I worked harder to sell the offense to the players, and that really worked for us.

However, the third time I taught a team read and react, I really strayed from the beaten path and taught it in a totally new way, a way which I’m about to share here in five parts.

This is part 1 of 5.

I’m sure many of you will absolutely hate this new approach, but frankly, it was dramatically more effective — so much so that I plan on using this approach again, refining it as I go.

In fact, I’m posting it here in the hopes that you guys will help me refine it, or at least tell me why I should go back to a more conventional way of teaching it.

In other words, here is the current version of my ever evolving Basketballogy approach to teaching Rick Torbett’s Read and React Offense:

For reference, Rick Torbett has invented a smart half court offense called “Read and React,” and he teaches it in what he calls “layers.” I like the offense, but the layer approach of teaching, while simplifying individual concepts, complicates the overall understanding of the offense, I think.

Rather than teach and drill the Read and React offense a “layer at a time,” I reorganized the Read and React principles into 4 logical, intuitive groups, and taught and drilled each group at once. This approach made Read and React easier to grasp, faster to learn, and much more natural and effective in its execution in half court basketball for at least 2 groups of teenage boys.

I base my approach on what I call the “RGB of half court offense.”

As most of you know, in the world of technology, “RGB” stands for “red, green, blue,” and everything we see on a television, computer screen, smart phone, etc. is all just a blending of these three fundamental colors.

It really is amazing when you think about it: everything we see on these screens is really just a matter of how the device uses red, green and blue.

Likewise, everything that happens in half court offense is just a matter of how a team uses the RGB of half court offense:

1. Spacing
2. Player movement
3. Ball movement

It doesn’t matter what half court offense you talk about, from the Triangle (Triple-post) Offense, to the Read and React offense, to a library of set plays, to freelance playing… all half court basketball is just a matter of how a team uses spacing, ball movement and player movement to score the ball.

Halfcourt Offense System Contributions RGBThe funny thing is that as obvious as this is, I have yet to meet a coach or a player who even understands that all his favorite half court offensive strategy and set plays are all just how these three things are being applied to create scoring opportunities.

Anyway, like all half court offenses, the Read and React offensive principles can be grouped into these 3 fundamental elements of half court offense, and by teaching them in these groupings, players grasp the R&R Offense’s principles very quickly. And because they instantly see how the R&R principles apply to their half court play, they quickly adapt them into real basketball playing.

Each phase has its own set of rules, and the reasons behind them. I feel it is critical that each player doesn’t just understand the rules of the offense, but the reasons for each of the rules as well. Teaching players why they should do certain things on the floor makes a world of difference in how well they do them.

After all, it is one thing to tell a kid to climb a mountain, and another thing altogether to tell a kid to climb a mountain because a giant tsunami is coming.

The “why to do” something has such an affect on the “what to do” that I feel we can’t just teach players what to do and send them out there like robots who will obediently execute what they’ve been taught (and if they don’t will once we yell at them to). I feel players play better when they know the reasons for doing what we do on a basketball court.

Elements of Offence: Player Contributions

After all, no matter how good our offensive system is at creating great shots, it can’t make them for you. Ultimately, players play the game, not coaches.

Which brings me to my next point: our offensive system only contributes 3 of the 6 elements of offense. While our “system” gives our offense spacing, ball movement and player movement, there are 3 elements of offense that are contributed mostly by the players on the floor:

1. Acumen (decision making)
2. Effort
3. Capability (talent, skills, size, athleticism, etc.)

True, these things can be coached to a degree. We can use our knowledge to teach players better decision making, our influence to get great effort from our players, and our authority to get the right capabilities on the floor, but none of that is actually playing the game. Ultimately acumen, effort and capability are player contributions.

(For more on the Elements of Offense, check out my article: The Elements of Offense: How to actualize a good halfcourt offense).

Now that I have introduced the RBG of the Read and React Offense, it is time for…

Part 2 of 5: Spacing and the Read and React Offfense


  1. DaveDave03-25-2011

    I was very interested in what you had to say… I have been studying Read & React to use in this coming year with my high school team. I stumbled on this on the internet looking for more info concerning the Open Post Offense which we uses with some success. I am thinking of using this the Read & React to Build our Program. Kids now a day simply don’t just play in their back yards or at the locate court they won’t play unless they are coached. Plus when you try to put in different approaches to different zones, etc. they can’t remember or look at you as if they are deer in headlights. How about zone defenses have you used the Hook & Look Read & React ?

    Thanks for your comments,


  2. Tom7Tom704-13-2011


    Sorry for the delay in writing this series. I had a son get married then an extended illness and didn’t have the time I thought I’d have.

    However, now that both are behind me, I’ll get this series going again. Thank you for your comments.

    BTW, I can appreciate your comments about zone adjustments and “hook and look.” I think you are going to like what we’ve done to make it easier for young players to do the right things against different defenses.

  3. CoachiCoachi06-26-2011

    I’m really looking forward to reading upcoming articles in this series.

    • Tom7Tom706-28-2011

      Thanks for letting me know. I’ll try to get this series bumped up higher on my priority list.

  4. PetersPeters07-05-2011

    Hope to see more of your articles soon Tom. I’ve been teaching my team read and react and came to a similar way of thinking – teach passing or dribbling or cutting as a group. The girls picked up the concepts better. Torbett would probably suggest this is just a way to focus players on their skills and I’d agree. By teaching all, say, the passing drills first we’ve been able to step the players through to a much higher level quicker. If you’re limited to 1 training session a week the way we are, it makes more sense to do it this way.

  5. StephenStephen07-21-2011

    Hey Tom…You got my ears open…can’t wait for the second part!!!

  6. MarkMark09-24-2011

    Please publish parts 2 through 5. Very interested in how you teach R&R.

  7. JoeJoe10-23-2011

    Im very interested in how you are teaching R&R. I am going to be teaching my daughter’s 5th grade select team the R&R. I’ll be on the lookout for 3 thru 5. Thanks coach

    • Tom7Tom710-29-2011

      @Coach Joe

      The youngest boys and girls I have coached are 12 years old, but I would think that the R&R would be perfect for your daughter’s 5th grade select team. I’ll try to get my articles out soon, because my experience with this approach has me believing it makes the offense simpler and more intuitive for young players, and therefore takes less practices to get the team functioning with it.

  8. PetePete10-28-2011

    I enjoyed reading your insight! I can’t wait for parts 3 -5 to come out because you have had several different experiences implementing this offense.

  9. Joe HaefnerJoe Haefner10-28-2011

    Love the article. I enjoy the Read and React too. I like how they organized everything.

    To me, it’s just a different way to organize motion offense principles that is easy to teach. Nothing is new, except the way the principles are organized. This is not a knock whatsoever. Actually, genius on BB’s part.

    Your RGB offense sounds like you are just taking motion principles and creating your own offense. That’s what I do, I take a little bit from everybody and organize my offense a certain way.

  10. Tom7Tom711-01-2011

    Guys, FYI, I just posted part 3.

    I’m sorry again for how long it took me, but it was so wordy I decided to delete large chunks of it and replace the words with some graphics.

    Hopefully it was helpful.

  11. WednesdayWednesday11-25-2011

    That’s rellay shrewd! Good to see the logic set out so well.

  12. MikeMike01-31-2012

    I started teaching R&R to my club team 3 years ago when the girls were in 5th grade. It’s been fun watching them grow as players through the system. I am always praised on how well the team plays. We have won many leagues and tournaments and our ball movement and player movement is far advanced to most of our opponents. After watching many local high school games, I have no doubt that our team could play competitively with many of those teams.
    Being that we practice and play mostly year round I have been able to learn how to teach R&R through trial and error, while having plenty of time to adjust. I also first taught it the way Rick Torbett illustrated in the fist release of R&R. But I found 5th grade girls are not particularly aggressive at attacking the basket. So i put more emphasis on passing and cutting, scoring and spacing. All while developing their skills and cofidence to attack the basket. Eventually the first 5 layers were servicable. But consistancy was lacking. I eventually came to the same realizaton that they needed to be trained using multiple layers in everything we do including warm ups, individual drills and team drills. Lots of reps. But the most important adjustment was really explaining the hows and whys of R&R. I encourage player questions and am constantly pleased with how good the questions are.. They get it and it shows on game day

  13. Richard CassellaRichard Cassella08-04-2012

    by Scott Ginn

    On Monday night (August 6) at 8 pm Eastern time, the Tribe will have it’s first official Twitter chat.

    Hopefully this will be the first of many Twitter chats to come. This Monday’s topic will be pre-season prep with the Read & React Offense so get your questions, comments, and resources ready (as long as they’re under 140 characters) and join us.

    By the way, the #rrtribe hashtag is alive so go ahead and use it in any Read & React related tweets to help us get the word out. And, if you have any questions, tweet us @BtrBasketball or leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

    What’s a Twitter chat? Read below and watch the short video to find out.

    Why #rrtibe?

    #rrtribe will be a real-time, 24/7 discussion available to anyone who is interested in learning more about the Read & React Offense. You may share resources, ask and answer questions, or simply connect with other interesting people that have a passion for the Read & React.

    The best part about #rrtribe? Whether you are a college coach or a youth coach, whether you’ve run the Read & React since the beginning or you’re looking to put it in for the first time, you’ll have an outlet to connect, collaborate, and discuss ways to improve your knowledge of the Read & React anywhere, anytime.

    How can I participate?

    Participating is simple – all you need to do is use #rrtibe anywhere in your tweet. Whether you mention, reply, or have your own thoughts on a subject relating to Read & React, all you need to do is use #rrtribe and your tweet will show in our stream!

    How do I find #rrtribe?

    To view every tweet having to do with #rrtribe, all you have to do is search for #rrtribe. From there you may reply, retweet, or favorite anyone who has posted to the #rrtibe stream.

    Thanks to @Cassella_ for the idea, for the video, and really for making this happen.

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