Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Zone offence
Principles, sets and options

Zone offence progressions - basic sets, tilted sets, running the corners, and post x-cuts:
3) 2-3
Principles of zone attack

- fast break (beat the zone up the floor)
- line up in the gaps
- shallow cut
- drive the gaps (get two defenders on the ball)
- freeze dribble (right at a defender)
- quick ball reversal (with full reversal to the corner)
- skip pass
- pass fake
- shot fake
- jab step
- misdirection dribble
- attack from behind
- inside-out
- attack the short corner, high post
- overload
- screen the zone
- crash the boards.

Bill Self - the ball moves the zone.

Mike Dunlap - the zone hates full reversal to the corner.

coachesclipboard.ca - getting the ball into the middle of the zone is a fundamental principle, this can be done by dribble penetration, flashing into the middle, or posting at the elbows. Flash from behind the zone with your back to a sideline, hands up, stop or pause in a gap between the top and bottom rows of the defence.
Randy Sherman - flash middle from weakside, aim for the bottom of the "dots" (jump circle), can fan the ball opposite.
Coach Daniel - drive the gaps or baseline behind the zone.
Kirby Schepp - you want to change sides, get paint touches, and attack with the dribble then pass-pass.

1) One post player
a) 4-out 1-in

This typical man-to-man set can be used against any zone, but especially a 1-2-2 or 1-3-1.

Jay Wright - try to run your man-to-man offence against zones. Ballscreens are highly effective, especially with shooters.

Jeff Bauer - 5 begins behind the zone on the baseline.

Randy Sherman - against a 1-2-2, filling the gaps means lifting 2 and 3 above the dead corners.

See Zone offences - Duke, Villanova, USA, Bauer.up

b) 2-1-2

5 has the high post when the ball is out top, dives on a pass to a corner.

Use against a 1-3-1 (or 1-2-2) zone defence, or against any halfcourt trapping pressure.


- against pressure defence, have weakside 3 flash to the high post on a pass to 2
- use two high posts to enter the offence.

See 2-1-2, 5star 2-1-2, Offence - Wootten four to score.

Variation - 5 stays low for rebounding, see Pitt vs. 1-3-1.up

c) Tilted 4-out 1-in

Against an even-front zone, here 1 pushes a shooter to a corner, 4 has the top.

See Greece, Duke, also Maryland.up

d) Duke runner

The corner shooter runs the baseline.

Can be used against most zones.

Look to get full ball reversal (corner to corner).

1 has three short pass options (an overload).

4 can ballscreen to help reverse the ball, or 3 can flash to the high post from weakside.

See Duke runner basics, Duke, also Florida ballscreen 3s.

2) High post, low post
a) 1-3-1

5 goes short corner to short corner (but can first flash middle), 4 has the high post.

Use against an even-front zone (or trapping odd-front zone).

Tom Izzo, Jack Bennett - never have 1 and 4 in a tandem.
Coach Daniel - 1-2-3 are free to move anywhere along the perimeter so long as they keep good spacing. Go inside to score, or inside-out to get good looks at 3s.
Kermit Davis - use a 1-3-1 set against a trapping 1-3-1.
Ken Atkins - use a 1-3-1 set if the defence is trapping a two-guard set.

See 1-3-1 basics, Grinnell, also Kermit Davis vs (trapping) 1-3-1, Press breaks - Halfcourt Atkins.up

b) High-low

From a 1-3-1 set, 1 passes to a wing and spaces away into a high-low, reverse the ball by skip pass or through 4.

Can be used against most zones.

See High-low basics, High-low, Geno Auriemma, Hubie Brown 1-4, also Offence - High-low.up

c) Offset 2-1-2

Two guards, high post, shooter on one side, low post opposite, use against a 1-2-2 or 1-3-1 zone.

Look to get the ball to 4.
Option - 4 can step out to reverse the ball.

Tilted 1-3-1 - 5 comes ballside on the pass to 2, goes back on a return pass to 1.

See Michigan State vs 1-3-1, Dave Odom vs 1-3-1, Schepp vs 1-3-1.up

d) Two-guard runner

Two guards, high post, ballside low post (on the baseline), a shooter is the runner.
Variation - 5 goes block-to-block, 2 runs the baseline below 5.
See X-gap vs 1-3-1, also Overload, below (4 and 5 x-cut).
- diagonal skip passes to 2
- the high post can ballscreen to reverse the ball (or step out).

Other options, e.g. against a 1-3-1 zone

- 5 starts weakside, comes ballside on a pass to 2, stays on a return pass to 1, and will cross the lane again only if 3 finishes a swing to 2 on the other side (variation - 5 is always weakside when 1 or 3 has the ball).
- 2 and 4 exchange on ball reversal.

See Dave Odom vs 1-3-1, Press breaks - halfcourt Atkins Wisconsin.up

3) 2-3 (two low posts)

Two-guard front, 4 and 5 on the baseline with a runner.
- 2 can cut up the middle
- 2 can start in the high post
- the weakside post flashes high on a corner touch, or double-team
- 4 and 5 screen for 2
- drag action out of the corner.
Doug Schakel - attack a 1-2-2 zone with two guards, two low posts, and a rover.
Heath Millar -  3 dribble freezes to occupy the top and wing defenders, make the back of the zone come out to the corner on a pass.
Coach K - look for 5 to flash to an open area then go back, stay behind the zone.

See Duke (three deep), Atkins baseline, Runner (double low posts), Dave Odom rover (against a 2-3 zone), Heath Millar continuity, 5star baseline, also Kermit Davis vs 1-3-1, Schepp vs 1-3-1.

Without baseline running, see Pitt vs 1-3-1, Syracuse vs 1-3-1.up

4) Post X-cuts
Also see High-low basics.

a) 3-out 2-in

4 and 5 x-cut on ball reversal, see Pitt, Hurley basic set (start with 4 and 5 on the baseline).

Other post-movement options

- x-cut low post, high post (Bill Self, Memphis)
- the low post steps out to the short corner (Self, Heath Millar, UConn)
- x-cut short corner, mid-post (Kermit Davis zone motion, Bruce Weber)
- stay on ball reversal and screen the back of the zone (Canada Basketball).

Sherri Coale - the weakside post attacks the area where the (on-ball) defender comes from (high post or short corner), the ballhandler must know where his defender came from.

For other options (e.g. motion, drag action, bleeding on a skip pass, screening), see Self, Pitt, 5star high-low, Davis, Millar.

For other entries, see Geno Auriemma (shallow cut), Izzo arm chop (4 ballscreens), Memphis (1-4), UConn (4-out with trailer), and Maryland Women (dribbling off centre).up

b) Overload

Two-guard front, baseline runner, 4 and 5 x-cut.

See T-game (double-post), Steve Bzomowski.

For other options (e.g. entries, ballscreens, drag action), see Huggins dive and fill, Atkins North Carolina t-game, Kermit Davis four high, Atkins high, Heath Millar, also Dave Odom vs 1-3-1.up

This page was made with Basketball playbook from Jes-Soft

2007-18 Eric Johannsen