Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Zone offence
Geno Auriemma

Geno Auriemma


4 and 5 start on the baseline behind the defence, which automatically backs up a little bit. 1 shallow cuts 2 on the side of big 5, 4 flashes anywhere he wants when he sees the dribble-over, 5 leaves when the ball gets to the foul-line extended.

Just by shallow cutting, they immediately have a small advantage, shooter 3 is open on a pass to 2 out top (because a top defender is on 1).

The defence will front 5, there's no way you are going to get him the ball (on the first side), so send him away (putting one of the best rebounders on the other side) then take the ball to him, when they reverse the ball real fast he already has his spot, throw the ball in.
See Zone set plays - Shallow cut to ballscreen, Blind, Zone offence - Duke.

If 1 passes to 4 inside the zone, there is immediately an advantage with shooter 2 at the top, and on a pass from 4 to 2, 5 screens in for 3.
Jeff Bauer - pin screens lead to swings then post feeds. Pin screen the defender who covers ball reversal, usually a wing defender in an odd-front zone and a bottom defender in an even-front zone.
Bob Hurley - screen the zone with the player at the back of the zone in the short corner, slide a shooter to the corner, screen the baseline then step inside the zone.

See Zone offences - Bauer 4-out-1-in motion, Hurley basic set, Zone set plays - Kansas, Fresno 20 series.

On ball reversal, the rule is pass to the baseline if the bottom defender comes on the ball, or pass the ball right back if a top defender comes out.

3 can't go too low for the pass from 2. Here when X4 comes out on the ball, 3 looks at 5, as X5 goes out that way, 4 comes to the middle looking for a pass from 3.
Mads Olesen - often the swing through the post will be open, on the pass from 1 to 2, 4 jumps to the high post, gets the ball and reverses it (see below), if 3 is able to hit the short corner, it will often lead to a wide open layup for the diving 4.

The ball has to go baseline if the low man comes out, throwing it there makes X5 go out, then 4 cuts for a pass from 5.
Olesen - if on the swing 2 freeze dribbles top defender X2 before passing to 3 it forces bottom defender X4 to cover 3, leaving open the post or short corner.

Here a top defender has the ball, so 3 passes back to 2 (the offence is playing 3-on-2 at the top).

All you're doing is trying to get them to play man-to-man.


For an even simpler approach, start the zone attack with a stationary player at the high post, and get the ball in there (he will be open, especially from the top). 1-2-3-4 play catch, the ball doesn't hit the floor, 5 moves block to block.

Defensively, X1 and X2 should stay on the elbows and not go near the ball if there is a pass into 4, X5 comes up only if 4 turns to face the basket, and most high posts don't turn around on a catch. You would rather give up a shot by 4 than a 3-point shot.
You want to move the zone, one way is by dribbling, if 1 shallow cuts 2 or 3, 4 will be open on a pass to the top.

Bill Self - start the offence by running "hot potato" just to get the defence chasing, stay stationary and swing the ball. Once a bottom defender comes up, 5 reads it and goes out to the short corner, 4 rolls down the lane on a pass to 5. The key to zone offence is to get 4 defenders covering 3 perimeter attackers, to do this they bring the wings lower, so the defensive bottoms feel like they need to come up.

See Dave Odom 1-3-1.

d) 1-4 set

Go 1-4 to run some plays, see how 4 and 5 are guarded. On a pass to a wing, one big goes low, the other big comes across high, 1 goes opposite the pass (don't stay too close), 3 slides down.

Get into high-low real quick, as soon as 4 steps out for a pass, 1 is open for a shot unless X4 comes out, then 3 is open.

1 goes to the opposite corner on a pass to 3, 5 crosses the lane.

Put a shooter in the corner against a zone, or run him through there.

If the defensive guards start cheating out a bit, 1 gets them moving a little, 5 moves in, throw it right in there, 5 catches and turns, 4 runs and posts up the middle defender, 2 goes in the corner. This is especially good against a 1-3-1, the bottom guy is often a smaller defender.

One thing they like to do is have 1 pass to a wing and run through the zone to the weakside corner, 5 goes down, 3 moves out.

4 sprints over and screens for 2, 5 sees that and goes to the opposite block, 2 comes off, makes X2 help, and passes to 3 for a shot or pass to 1 in the corner.
5 sneaks around and tries to screen.

See Zone set plays - Florida ballscreen 3s.

Go 1-4 against a 1-3-1, but also against traps. As soon as you see a double team, go "X", get somebody to the high post, 2 gets behind the zone and 3 cheats out a little bit. They don't have far to go.

If the defence tries to match up, you've got to make a pass before they match up.

This page was made with Basketball playbook from Jes-Soft

2007-17 Eric Johannsen