See YouTube video - 1-3-1 zone defence Dennis Felton.
The defence is built on deflections and steals. When something looks open, it closes down for steals. Felton doesn't play the defence a lot, only if they're in trouble, losing, need something to change the game. Normally use it on dead balls and made field goals, there's time to set up (see below for missed field goals).
The biggest weakness is rebounding because they are so spread out. Everybody has to rebound, hit somebody and pursue the ball.
The top defender ("top", here X2) has great length, athleticism and anticipation skills, good instincts for stunting and getting steals.
The wings are also long and athletic, X3 and X4.
The centre is the biggest 5-man.
The "warrior" on the baseline is a guard who plays hard as hell, corner to corner, has to be tough and physical since he has to battle with bigs on the blocks.
See Defence - Extended 1-3-1 basics.
2Felton installs the defence (and scrimmages), using 7 attackers (see Defending - 1-3-1 Felton drills). Start with stationary attackers so you can teach the slides and responsibilities.
They don't want the ball to play in the middle of the floor, but when it's between the lane lines, X2 defends straight up, man to man.
Once the ball is on a side X2's job is to keep it there, cutting off the court, making a pass to 4 very difficult. Be big and active, play cat and mouse between the two guards, if there is a pass you want a slow lob or bounce pass, steal it if you can.
If 1 starts to bring the ball to the middle, jump him, attack then go back (when 1 pulls the dribble back). X2 tries to make 1 pick up the dribble, then runs away to take away a pass to 4. Create indecision.
For ballside wing X3, it's the same thing between the ball and the corner. If 1 is out of scoring range and being passive, X3 can keep messing with him, but don't allow a pass to the corner.
If 1 starts to dribble down, attack him, make him back dribble, then X3 runs back. Do this with big, high hands, you don't care if he drives it, they will trap. Invite a middle drive.
Weakside wing X4 protects the weakside block, if someone is there, sit on the guy's thighs, they can't lob it, he can't rebound on you, and more importantly he can't screen you on a pass back to your side.
Centre X5 is always between the ball and rim, but adjusts if there is a high post, using his length to put a hand in front of 5 while facing the ball. Like everybody else, he plays with big hands and big feet (to kick passes). Keep the ball out of the high post, but also stop all dribble penetration. Take the ball if passed into the high post.
Warrior X1 is always on the strong-side block when the ball is out top on a side, sits on a low-post's thighs.
Often a shot goes up when X5 is out front, so rebounding is more about getting in there, scrambling to block out, just being more tenacious.
5 may not start at the high post, if he flashes high from the weakside block, X4 yells "high post" for X5.
On a pass to the corner, X2 gets to the ballside elbow, protects the high post.
X3 just turns around and plays the same defence. It's a mistake if X3 goes all the way to the corner to trap 2, it's an easy pass back out.
2 is X1's man, he can never get driven baseline (all drives in this defence are forced to the middle, the funnel, that's how we create steals) or allow a post entry on the baseline.
X5 contests the low post on the top side, sprinting to put his baseline hand in front of the low post (here his left hand). Just run in front, don't wrestle. The low post could seal him if X5 tries to contest with his outside hand. 2 can't make a post entry on the top side or low side.
If the low post beats X5 for a catch and turns to score, weakside wing X4 blocks it.
The offence will find cracks in the defence for interior passes. Like all defences, when the paint is under attack you rush to put the fire out, it's almost like there's no rules now, everybody is just scrambling to make a play.
X3 invites a middle drive (see below). If 2 dribbles out of the corner, X3 would attack him then get back to protect the sideline, it looks like a soft trap.
On a pass back out, X2 takes the guard to guard pass, X1 goes right back to 6 on air time. X5 recovers high (and can't get screened by 6).
Defenders have a tendency to get soft, e.g. X2 allows a guard to guard pass after a pass out of the corner, and as a possession goes along, X5 starts getting too low, below the foul line. X2 and X5 have to keep playing high.
On a guard to guard pass, X4 protects his sideline, banana cuts to keep 4 from catching and passing to 3. He does not close out straight except if a shooter catches in shooting range.
X2 doesn't have to attack 4 so long as X4 is there on the sideline, he can just turn around. When looking at 4, X2 keeps up with where 1 is, a smart player will try to cut towards the foul line.
X3 sprints down on air time to protect the weakside block.
The wings also can't be too soft. Be over aggressive, close out with two hands high, can even jump. Can't ever let the guards be comfortable. You have to fly around, it's not man to man closeouts.
If 4 is in scoring range, X4 closes out to take away shot, anticipates a pass to 3. Attack 4, make him drive into the funnel or pull it back out. Put your chest on him.
Cut off the court, take away 4's outlets, encourage him to dribble into the funnel.
If the ball gets swung too fast, the warrior has a problem, he can't get corner to corner.
On a skip pass to the corner, wing X3 goes to the corner first, takes away the initial shot (covers for the warrior), X1 keeps coming, then X3 retreats into position.
There are times X1 will have to run corner to corner, he can go either side of a first low post but has to go under a second low post to protect the baseline, can't allow a baseline drive or post feed.
If 4 puts his head down and drives middle, the top and wing attack him and swipe at the dribble, then "melt down" (run away) as 4 approaches the scoring area because X5 steps up to stop him at the 3-point line.
Melt down to take away passes. X2 takes away the high post if there is one, X4 anticipates a pass to 3.
X5 keeps 4 from crossing sides of the floor at all costs. If 4 does get past X5, it has to be on the same side, where warrior X1 takes a charge.
Attack 4, X5 stops him, melt down. You fool him into driving into the trap (the funnel), then anticipate his next pass. When he picks up his dribble, run away and take away his passes. If he shoots without confidence over the centre, that's a bad shot.
If there is no high post, X2 melts down to 1.
As 4 gets close to the 3-point line, X4 and X2 run away to make him pick up his dribble. Turn around and sprint, don't back up, it's too slow and you don't know where he is.
It's the same thing in the corner, the warrior and wing attack and get back (melt down), X5 steps up, X1 would steal a pass to the low post.
On any middle drive into the funnel, the centre is stopping them, everybody else is looking for steals.
Felton doesn't think it's a defence you can play all the time, it's too hard to set up, normally use it on dead balls and made field goals.
If used after missed field goals, you can transition into a tight version to absorb the transition so there are no big holes, then get spaced out, e.g., if the point guard passes and gets it back, now start spreading out (shown).
See Defence - 1-3-1 Lute Olson.
Another adjustment they made against a team that was very big, strong and physical inside was to put X4 as the warrior (so there is no guard against a post player), and play a little tighter.
See Defences- 1-3-1 Jack Bennett, Dean Smith 52 zone.