Best Zone Offense Basketball

James Lee
• Tuesday, 08 December, 2020
• 7 min read

WIN MORE GAMES with offenses, defenses, plays, drills, fundamentals, strategy, animations, video, Playbook download, youth section... unique, mobile ready. Plays and sets designed to be successful against man-to-man coverage often run into problems against zones.

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You must have a zone offense (s) in your offensive arsenal to counteract zone defenses. If it is your team's offensive style, fast-break and push the ball up the floor as quickly as possible, before the defense can get set.

The opposite applies if the defense shows a one-guard front (e.g. 1-3-1 or 1-2-2 zone). In this case (diagram B), use a two-guard offense to flank the single top defender.

If the opponent keeps changing its defense, call out your offensive counter from the bench. Some teams change defenses, and you have to be ready, and you can't call a time-out every time.

Be patient on offense, but take the first open, good percentage shot. Players should move into the gaps and passing lanes in the zone (see diagram C).

As the dribbler sucks that perimeter defender inside, he/she can stop, pivot and pass back out to where he/she came from, which will be open for the 3-point shot. It's OK to take the outside jumper or 3-pointer, but don't settle for the outside shot on every possession (see pointer #4 above).

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If the low outside defender gets around the screen and runs to the ball, a quick pass inside to the post is usually there. Make sure your players receive the ball in triple-threat position, ready to shoot, look inside and pass, or penetrate.

Unless there is a gap for a quick attack ('split-step') to the hoop, players should receive the pass in triple-threat position. If there is no shot clock rule and if you have the lead and the opponent switches to zone defense, you can back the ball out and go into a “4-corners” delay offense.

We believe that teaching zone principles will help you the most in the long-run and need to be emphasized. However, there are definitely times during games where you just need a zone play to get a good look at the basket.

Some coaches also prefer to use their best zone plays when they first see a zone defense during a game. The rationale is that if they execute a couple of zone plays right from the beginning, the opposing coach may quickly pull their team out of the zone defense.

Jamie Dixon popularized this play to beat Syracuse's zone defense. WIN MORE GAMES with offenses, defenses, plays, drills, fundamentals, strategy, animations, video, Playbook download, youth section... unique, mobile ready.

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My 7th graders were really having difficulty playing against the 2-3 zone, which we seem to be running into frequently in youth tournaments. I dedicated an entire practice session to learning how to beat this defense in a simple way that young players could understand.

I used some visuals and made it interactive for them, instead of me just talking. First, we gathered around a table out on the floor. I let the kids set up the board and helped them with placing the defense in a 2-3 zone.

So every time they would position the offense, I would then move the defense, and then they would have to find the gaps again. Amazingly, the kids came up with the same offensive scheme that I had devised, and it is diagrammed in the drawings below.

Now, on the court, I used hula hoops and some old car floor mats that I threw down in the gaps, so they could see where to move to. One caution: players could trip and injure themselves with these objects on the floor, so we just used them in “walk through” ball rotations, not up to speed.

Dribble only to penetrate a gap, or improve a passing angle, or to get out of trouble. Offensive rebounding is very important since the zone defenders do not have clear-cut box-out assignments (as in a man-to-man).

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Now study the diagrams below, and at the end I will give you just a few simple rules. One tip: your high post O4 might initially be positioned along the lane, and then as the point guard brings the ball into the forecourt, O4 flash cuts to the high post at the free-throw line.

Make sure the wings are high and wide, so that the point-to-wing pass is not easily intercepted. Each move is to fill a gap in the zone where you can get open for a pass and shot.

If the ball is passed to the corner, O4 cuts hard down to the low block for the bounce pass from O5 (diagram B), and O3 moves to the free-throw line area because if O4 does not get the ball, then O3 is often wide open (diagram C). Here's an option where we can attack the zone straight up the middle, by passing, not dribbling.

O1 will try to dribble between (split) the two outside defenders right up the middle and will pull up for a shot just inside the free throw line. You can see that there are certain areas (hula hoops) that we want to fill as the ball moves.

The diagrams below show red circles that should be filled when the ball is in that location. When the ball is at the high post, duck under the zone into the paint for the pass down low.

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(Source: www.slideshare.net)

Look to penetrate from the wing, and make good passing decisions, avoid unnecessary dribbling. Look for the shot, and when the high post is at the elbow, the opposite wing drops into the gap on the weak-side.

Keep the ball moving, with little dribbling, except to penetrate or open a passing lane. Look for an opportunity to dribble and split the two top defenders, and if they collapse, dish out to either wing.

Responsible for staying back (on top) to prevent the fast break. If you’re just starting to watch or learn this game, it can be difficult to understand why certain players perform certain actions.

A good offense must be flexible enough to respond to changing defensive strategies. There needs to be a certain amount of spacing between players, but there must also be counter options to avoid defensive traps.

Advancement down the court should be rapid, looking for an outlet pass that can create an easy basket opportunity. Another benefit of the early offense strategies is that if your initial push doesn’t get you close to the basket, you can reset to work toward a good shot.

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There are a number of defensive tactics that can be deployed in the game of basketball. The goal of each defense is simple: disrupt the offensive plays in some way.

There are three ways for a defense to be successful in the modern game of basketball. Cause the offensive player to miss their shot, creating an opportunity for a rebound.

Most youth basketball leagues do not use a shot clock, but will likely follow the 5-second advancement rule in some form. There are three basic categories of defense that are usually deployed in order to create results in the game of basketball.

Each player stays assigned throughout the game because matches are made by size and ability. This type of defensive tactic creates “zones” on the basketball court.

Four players will take up assigned spots on the floor to guard a specific zone. This defensive tactic is a good tool to use when one player on the other team is exceptional at offense compared to their teammates.

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Here are some common terms that you’ll hear in the game of basketball and what a player should be doing if asked. Boxing Out: A defensive player is near the hoop, prepared to rebound a missed shot.

They are using their body position to block an offensive player from rebounding a missed shot. When a basketball play begins with a defensive stop, a player creates a fast break by passing to another teammate who is open down the court with minimal or zero defenders in their way.

The tallest player may be considered the Center, who would be responsible for any ripoffs that occur. This means a made 3-point shot would be given an additional free throw, creating a 4-point play.

Guard: A basketball player who is responsible for outside offensive opportunities and the initial line of defense. Traveling: Players are allowed to take two steps while in possession of a held ball.

Turnover: This occurs when the offense loses possession of the ball to the defense for some reason. Floor violations or losing the ball out-of-bounds are common turnovers in basketball.

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