How to Run the 4-Corner Offense

The four-corner offense is designed to successfully run time off the clock in a close game. Classically, it is used in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, when a team has a small lead and wants to use the game clock as an ally. The strength of this offense rests on its ability to, if run successfully, minimize the amount of possessions the opposing team gets. This gives them fewer opportunities to score than if the winning team ran a basic, more aggressive set.

How to Run the Four-Corner Offense

Put a player in each corner of your side of the court: one player in both corners inside the half-court line, and one in each corner on both baselines. The fifth player is a rover in this set and is often placed at the top of the key. They can act as a necessary safety outlet if one of the players in the corner gets trapped and needs somebody to come to the ball.

Oftentimes, this "rover" is played by a two or a three guard, because it can be a great position for a player with strong one-on-one offensive capabilities to maneuver. Given that the floor is spread, he can take his man to the basket without having to worry about people helping on defense.

From here, the crux of the offense if very simple: pass and screen away. If a player playing in one of the "high" spots (near half-court) passes to the other player in the "high" spot, he screens the corner player located on his side. They, in essence, change positions.

If a "high" man passes to a corner player, he screens the opposite "high" man. The beauty of this offense, if run correctly, is that the player with the ball has plenty of room to operate; he does not have to worry about being trapped or feeling cluttered by the other players around him. Through the defensive players having to cover a large amount of ground, and running through so many high screens, the four-corner offense will cause them to eventually lose their concentration and make mistakes. Then the offensive man will be able to make something happen going towards the basket or, hitting a player coming off a screen.

What to Avoid

The downside to this offense is that it can often make players play too conservatively, or even worse, tentatively. It can sometimes lead to turnovers, given that the distance the ball has to travel from one man to the next is much larger than normal. Therefore, there is a higher margin for error.

Also, if a team runs the Four-Corners without a strong ball-handler, it can lead to tremendous chaos, as the players begin to panic, and, because of this, make poor decisions. This offense must never be implemented with too many minutes to go. It is the coach's responsibility to make sure that he has both a capable point guard and a talented scorer, the former to take care of the ball, and the latter to get the team a good shot if things go wrong.

Even if effective, do you think the four-corner offense is an out-dated strategy that should be banned?

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