Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

1-3-1 Blackford

Tom Blackford

The 1-3-1 always gives them a chance to win against more athletic teams. It's hard to prepare to play against the 1-3-1, but easy for them to prepare since most teams run 2-1-2, you know where they are. It's a constant-pressure defence (trap for 32 minutes), and great to transition into offence. They try to get 28 to 32 deflections and/or kicked balls in a game. Don't allow direct passes in the zone, and no easy 3s.

The chaser (here X2) is athletic, long, active, relentless, has a motor, gets deflections and kicked balls, he makes the defence go.

He picks up 3/4-court (top of the key), chases the ball all over the floor, side to side, keeps it in front of him, makes them work to bring it up (see 1-3-1 Blackford drills). When the ball is in front of him it's his responsibility. The chaser has to get the ball out of the middle of the floor, and never allow a direct guard-to-guard pass. You need two chasers.

The wings play out to the 28-foot hash marks. X4 should be the best rebounder, the backside wing is huge for rebounding, and most teams are right-handed.

X1 covers corner-to-corner with one exception (see below).

X3-X4-X5 play off X2, and X1 is telling them if they can push up a bit.
It looks like a halfcourt trap (see Trapping), and it will be if a guard dribbles across halfcourt and picks up his dribble.

See Defence - Extended 1-3-1 basics.

The chaser and ballside wing box in a ballhandler in their area, and close the box (move in) if he gives up the dribble. If he has a live dribble, be active, hands up, faking. X3 is on 1's outside shoulder and tries to deflect or kick a pass to 2 in the corner, no direct pass.

When one wing is up the other is down. Weakside wing X4 drops back more if 3 likes to come behind the zone and dunk, or can cheat up to the first marker if 4 is a shooter. Don't ball watch, 1 can't throw a diagonal skip pass behind X4.

Post X5 plays between the ball and the basket, with his toes on the 3-point line, and doesn't worry about what's behind him. He stops dribble penetration by attacking the ball instead of waiting for it, even if he picks up a foul or two, he's got to get after it.

With the ball out front, X1 plays ballside on top of the low post, and will go out to the corner only on air-time of a pass. X1 might cheat out towards a great shooter.

If 1 splits the box, X5 comes up to stop penetration, the only time they have three guys on the ball.

If 1 passes to the high post, X1 or X4 would have to cover until X5 turns and gets back in the play.

On a guard-to-guard pass, X2 keeps chasing, wing X4 banana cuts, playing 4's outside shoulder, a straight-line run would allow a direct pass to the corner.

If the pass is made close to the 3-point line, X4 has to get into 4 and push him out (dribble out).

Push the ball out, the more the offensive team gets closer to the 3-point line, the worse the defence gets.
X3 does make a straight-line cut.

X2 and X4 box in the ball, X5 has his toes on the 3-point line, X1 covers the ballside low post, X3 protects weakside.

On a pass to the corner, X1 closes out hard, or runs a great shooter off the 3-point line, make him bounce it, if he's not a great bounce guy they will trap all the time, get the ball out of a great shooter's hands.

When the ball is passed below the foul line, X5 fronts the low post every time, no direct pass.

The wings have no set rules, X4 traps if he thinks it's a great trap, otherwise he distorts the passing lane back out (e.g. if he's too far away to trap). Push the ball back out on a return pass to 4.

Chaser X2 plays the ballside elbow, and becomes a second backside rebounder on a shot.

On a corner trap, X2 reads whether 3 faces out and he can steal a pass back out.

X4 has to push the ball out on a pass back to 4.

On a shot from the corner, X2 runs to become a second backside rebounder and X4 replaces in the middle. X3 has 2, X2 has 1, they leave 4 alone, no box out.

X5 has a 50/50 position, fights for the rebound.

X1 draws charges, traps on middle dribble penetration with the wing and post (shown), and X5 would trap baseline penetration when the ball gets to the lane line.

If X3 follows his rules and comes all the way out on a skip pass to 1 there will be a direct pass to 2 in the corner and they are in trouble.

Instead, chaser X2 is responsible, he chases the pass, X1 tells X3 to cover until he gets there, then X3 pushes out. X1 recovers but does not go out to the corner if 1 still has the ball.

Coach Mac - X3 must banana cut out to the wing, taking away a direct pass to the corner.

See 1-3-1 defences Basketball Highway, Seth Greenberg, Aldo Corno, Jack Bennett.

Most teams will flash 2 to the high post, X3 has to tell X2 that the flash is coming, keep the ball out of the high post.

Many teams overload with 4 at the high post and 5 in the short corner, heels on the baseline (sometimes 5 is behind the backboard and can't make a play).

If 2 bounces the ball into the short corner, X1 is the only guy that can play that, X5 does not play the short corner, he stays at home. If X5 goes out the short corner, 4 will be open rolling down from the high post, so X5 stays at home, and X2 has to body up as 4 rolls down.

On a pass back out to 2, X3 would have to cover for a second until X1 gets back out.


They naturally trap, e.g. as soon as the ballhandler crosses halfcourt (the chaser and wing box in the ball and trap). Some coaches may not be as comfortable, and can call "Thumbs up" (trap up) or "Thumbs down" (trap down).

Thumbs up - trap as soon as the ball crosses halfcourt.

Thumbs down - if you want to play softer, automatically trap a pass to the corner. The chaser follows his rule and goes to the elbow, but reads whether he can steal a pass back out.

They can also do some other 1-3-1 variations, e.g. triangle and two, diamond and one.up

This page was made with Basketball playbook from Jes-Soft

2007-19 Eric Johannsen coacheric53@gmail.com