An aggressive 1-3-1 zone for traps, half court defenses (2023)

December 9, 2019 •defendingwinning rings

by David Hoch, contributing writer

Initially, our 1-3-1 zone was intended to serve as a midcourt trap in a multi-defense package. When the trap was broken, our players were directed to retreat to another half court defense, such as a 2-3 or 3-2 zone.

An aggressive 1-3-1 zone for traps, half court defenses (1)However, we soon discovered that our teams played in the 1-3-1 zone better than any other defense. Furthermore, we found that only 2% of the teams in our zone played 1-3-1. This represented an advantage, as our opponents had to prepare differently to play against our team, and opposing players feared the unknown. Ultimately, there was no reason to change the 1-3-1 when playing halfback.

DIAGRAM 1: Player positioning.Here are the starting positions and responsibilities for the half court trap:

(Video) 1-3-1 Zone Defense - Half Court Trap

  • X1:Typically the point guard, this player should catch the ball handler by about 3/4. The X1 shouldn't crowd around or play with the controller too tight. Instead, they must "fake and retreat" from the ball before returning to the pass lane so that the ball handler cannot get past the weakside guard. Ball reversal should be minimized as it causes the other four defenders to adjust.
  • X3, X4:These players must "invite" the owner of the ball to dribble half court. If they play too close to half court, the ball handler will try to reverse the ball or find a post to head the ball to. The distance that the wards play depends on their speed; the top of the extended key is a good reference point. These two players should be your fastest players and possess good defensive instincts.
  • X5:This player must prevent any player from passing the ball. While offensive players typically shoot from under the free throw line, the X5 must be on the lookout for a player who shoots from the weak side.
  • X2:This player starts in the side area and makes the first side pass. X2 goes high to intercept the pass. As the "fullback" of the defense, X2 is in the best position to see the terrain and must actively communicate with his teammates. In particular, X2 must alert X5 when a player is going for the ball.

An aggressive 1-3-1 zone for traps, half court defenses (2)The goal of this 1-3-1 zone defense is to generate turnovers, so players shouldn't play it all safe.

Zone Teaching Points 1-3-1

Several teaching points are helpful in successfully implementing the 1-3-1 half-court trap.

DIAGRAM 2: Equilibrium in ball inversion.When there is a change from guard ball to guard ball, X1 must immediately “settle down” with the ball. This means placing feet in front of the offside guard, arms outstretched to the sides, to prevent a subsequent reversal pass. Only after the alignment should X1 approach the ball.

Likewise, whenever the ball is passed over the ball-side winger's head, they must first "frame" to minimize passing range. If the wing approaches the ball without framing first, the pass can easily be returned, forcing defensive players to constantly switch and rotate.

When the striker and winger form a trap, they cannot allow it to split. Once the attack breaks the initial trap, your defense becomes extremely vulnerable. Players must form knee-to-knee traps.

An aggressive 1-3-1 zone for traps, half court defenses (3)SCHEME 3: Movements in split trap.When a trap is broken, X5 must stop the ball while X3/X1 retreats to the line of the ball.

(Video) How to Trap and Extend the 1-3-1 Zone Defense

To avoid penetration of the sideline, the winger must slide and place the outside foot on the sideline. This forces the ball handler out of bounds.

" SEE TOO:Teach, implement a matchmaking zone defense

If the owner of the ball interrupts the dribble in this trap, X3 and X1 must get closer and make a fast and solid pass difficult. They can do this by extending their arms to block the trapped guard's view. They must not allow the ball handler to “inspect” the ground and shoot across or towards the end line. Cheating succeeds when they can force a rainbow pass that can be intercepted.

An aggressive 1-3-1 zone for traps, half court defenses (4)DIAGRAM 4: Change the ball from guard to guard.In a guard-to-guard switch, X4 must pivot up and enter the passing line so the opposing guard cannot make a quick pass to the corner. X4 must move laterally to prevent the guard from penetrating the center court or sideline until X1 passes over the trap.

As X4 spins up, X5 follows the ball to the opposite elbow. X2 cuts along the baseline into the ball side area and X3 swings down to protect the weak side.

SCHEME 5: Corner movements on the side of the ball.On a pass from guard to the side corner of the ball, X2 comes out to play the ball “baseline hard” to prevent the attacker from penetrating the baseline. X5 must land from his elbow into the side box of the ball and block any low post player. X1 drops to the ball side elbow and X3 protects the weak side of the area from the weak side.

An aggressive 1-3-1 zone for traps, half court defenses (5)

(Video) Xavier's 1-3-1 Defense

It is critical that X4 "frame" before following the ball into the corner. This technique makes a quick backwards pass to guard difficult.

DIAGRAM 6: Pass from corner to guard.If a corner pass is made to the guard, the zone is "pushed" into the overtaking lane. X1 reappears in the overtaking lane from the elbow. X5 moves from the low box to the ball side elbow, and X3 moves from the weak side box to the midpoint between the elbow and the baseline. X4 first turns, faces the ball and “courts” before moving towards the ball.

In man-to-man defenses, the side far from the ball is often referred to as the help side to encourage rotation and help. In a defense in a 1-3-1 zone, it is appropriate to use the term “weak side” to reinforce aggressiveness and the objective of always going to the ball and stealing. Players are not in assist mode and there will usually be four defenders on the ball side and only one on the weak side.

An aggressive 1-3-1 zone for traps, half court defenses (6)transition defense

Once in our 1-3-1 half court, a verbal cue alerts players to stay on defense, players can lock in corners. The corner trap is started by shouting "Clip!" and a visual cue is to bring your hands together with your fingers interlocked. The corner trap can be turned on and off like any other save, and changes can be made mid-possession if necessary.

SCHEME 7: Corner trap.When there is a corner trap, X1 is in a position to anticipate a return pass from the corner to guard. Therefore, X1 must extend his left arm and reach an arm's length away from any post at the elbow to clear the pass.

An aggressive 1-3-1 zone for traps, half court defenses (7)From the weakside box position, the weakside attacker (X4) must learn to anticipate the diagonal pass from the corner trap to the other side's guard. Also, as the corner striker is in trouble, X5 must tackle any low post player. Otherwise, a pass to the post is the easiest pressure release for the attack.

(Video) Aggressive 1-3-1 Zone Defense

One of the weaknesses of a 1-3-1 zone is the weakside rebound. Therefore, it is essential to deepen this aspect. Weakside rebound drills should teach players how to position the potential weakside rebound, reduce the angle, and reduce the distance the rebound can travel to the basket. As with all rebounds, the winger must pivot and make contact with the rebound.

other looks

While the point guard is usually in the X1 position, you can mix things up and place a taller player here. This is effective against teams that like to flip the ball once or twice before launching the offense. You can also place a taller player in the X2 position. This helps you better challenge a team's 3-pointer in the corners.

With small tweaks and a little creativity, the 1-3-1 can become an all-purpose defense.

David Hoch, CMAA, has 16 years of experience as a high school athletic director and served 12 years as executive director of the Maryland State Coaches Association. He was also a high school and college basketball coach at Pennsylvania.


(Video) How to Beat a 1-3-1 Basketball Zone Defense

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How do you beat a 1-3-1 trapping zone defense? ›

Use a two-guard front to attack the 1-3-1 zone defense, and attack it from the corner where it is most vulnerable. See the "Zone-2" offense. Put O2 (your best shooter) in the ball-side corner. O2 runs the baseline, always to the ball-side corner.

What is a 1-3-1 zone defense good for? ›

The 1-3-1 zone defense has the advantage of being able to apply pressure on the outside arc and high post, and allows for some trapping. The major weakness is when the offense attacks from the corners and into the low post.

What are 3 disadvantages of the 1 3 1 zone defense? ›

There are some disadvantages of the 1-3-1 to consider:
  • It's not the best choice for player development with young teams. ...
  • The corner can be susceptible to outside shots if you do not teach your players the proper coverages.
  • The low post can be open if you do not teach your players to proper coverages.

How do you break a half court trap? ›

In a half court trap, opponents will attempt to trap you as you cross the mid court line and no sooner. The best way to beat this press is the same as any other; that is, beat it up court before the opponents can set up. Use the (4) to (2) long inlet pass option or the (4) to (1) to (2) quick passes up the sideline.

How do you break trapping defense? ›

Use the back-up and crossover dribble to avoid a trap. Dribble hard backwards and then do a quick, hard crossover dribble (or a through the legs dribble or around the back dribble) to get free, attacking the defender's shoulder.

Is 111 a good defensive rating? ›

Since this rate of 111.8 points was scored per 100.3 possessions, and defensive rating is per 100 possessions, we can utilize a mathematical ratio to say that if a player has a defensive rating of approximately 111.47, they are approximately around league average.

What is the most effective zone defense? ›

The 1-2-2 zone has the advantages of being able to pressure the ball on the outside arc, allow for some trapping, and can be effective against a good outside shooting team (whereas the 2-3 zone is more effective against inside scoring and dribble penetration).

Is a half-court shot skill or luck? ›

An example of this would be during a halftime contest: If a half court shot is made by a fan, selected at random, it is considered to be a “lucky shot.” However, if the same shot is made by a NBA or WNBA player, it still would be considered lucky, but not as lucky as the fan's shot.

What are the chances of hitting a half-court shot? ›

A half-court shot is attempted roughly 25 percent of the time to finish the first, second, or third quarter; though, and much rarer in the fourth. In some instances, NBA players will intentionally avoid shooting a half-court shot before the buzzer.

What is the number one priority for a half-court defense? ›

Since transition defense is the key to a successful half- court defense, you will need to make it your No. 1 priority in your game plan. Transition begins immediately upon the conversion from offense to defense while the ball is still alive.

Can the defense get a 3 second violation? ›

The team committing a defensive three-second violation is assessed a team technical foul. The offense receives one free throw and retains possession of the ball. The NBA also made zone defenses legal prior to the 2001–2002 season.

How to break a 1 3 1? ›

11 Rules For Attacking A 1-3-1 Zone Defense
  1. Push The Ball. Don't allow the zone to get set up. ...
  2. Take The Ball Into The Zone. Too often players stand on the outside and pass the ball around. ...
  3. Use Ball Reversals. ...
  4. Make The Zone Collapse. ...
  5. Attack The Gaps & Draw Two Defenders. ...
  6. Flatten The Zone. ...
  7. Overload One Side. ...
  8. Use Screens.

What is a 2-2-1 zone defense? ›

A 2-2-1 Zone Defense starts with two players at the top line picking up at three-quarter court, two players at the middle line at the half court line, and one player at the back line around the top of the key.

What are three safe trapping practices? ›

Following Trapping Guidelines
  • Avoid locations where the animal could get tangled in fences or other objects that could cause injury.
  • Select a location that minimizes the chance that objects or debris will prevent the trap from functioning properly.
  • Place traps away from well-traveled paths or residential areas.

What skills is trap defense? ›

Trap defense is a basketball defensive tactic in which two defenders will effectively double team an offensive player with the ball, typically near a sideline and/or corner of the court.

How do you run a 122 defense? ›

A 1-2-2 Zone Defense starts with one player at the top around the top of the key, two players on the wings around the elbow area, and two players just above the low blocks.

What is a half court trap? ›

A half-court press is a specific type of press that can be run in a man-to-man defense or in a zone style defense too. The main goals are to speed up the opponent, trap the offensive players where possible, create as many turnovers as possible, and take time off the clock from the offense.

How do you break a 131 full court press? ›

Good quick passes will break the press. If player 1 decides to pass to the middle of the zone, in this case to 2. Player 2 advance down the court or passes to 3 who is wide open. This should be a fast, easy break,between 2 and 3, one of them should find 4 or 5 to score.

What is a bad defensive rating? ›

Sometimes even an NBA player who isn't even a good defender at all. Conversely, a good defensive rating can make up for a lack of efficient offense. NBA Basketball Player Stats - NBA Efficiency The opposite is true for defensive PPP: Above 1.0 is bad; below 1.0 is considered good.

What is Stephen Curry defensive rating? ›

Stephen Curry has a defensive rating of 107.2 in his career.

Is it better to have a high or low defensive rating? ›

The individual Defensive Rating provides points allowed to the opponent team by a single player for every 100 possessions played. The lower the value, the better the player's defensive contribution.

What is a 1 1 3 defense? ›

The basic alignment for the 113 Match-Up is a 1-1-3 zone, which features a point defender, another perimeter defender positioned just above the free-throw line and three post defenders. DIAGRAM 1: '113' setup. There are two coverage areas in the 1-1-3 MatchUp defense.

What is 3-2 zone defense used for? ›

3-2 (1-2-2) zones are commonly used to defend teams with good outside shooting and/or weaker post players. You can also use it as a trapping defense.

Are half-court shots hard? ›

The odds of hitting a half-court shot are roughly 1 in 100 (1%).

Is a half-court shot worth 5 points? ›

Each basket is worth 2 points, but a made shot from behind the 3 point line is worth 3 points and a shot made from beyond the half-court line is worth 5 points.

Do NBA players practice half-court shots? ›

They absolutely do. These shots are not the focus of practice, however, and are usually a “bookend” to the workout. These types of shots are also practiced privately by players so that if called upon to take the shot, they've got some muscle memory developed to take the shot with confidence.

Is a half-court shot 3 points? ›

Ones and twos: In a full-size court game, shooting hoops from behind the three-point line equals three points for each pass through the basket. In a half-court game, the same successful field goal is worth two points. Successful shots from within the arc each equal one point.

Who made the first midcourt shot? ›

For that first game of basketball in 1891, Naismith used as goals two half-bushel peach baskets, which gave the sport its name. The students were enthusiastic. After much running and shooting, William R. Chase made a midcourt shot—the only score in that historic contest.

What is the longest basketball shot ever made? ›

This basketball coach in Louisiana has quite a lineup of world records. Joshua Walker broke five world records in one day, including the world record for the longest basketball shot, which he made from 113 feet and 6 inches away from the hoop.

How do you play a 2 1 2 zone defense in basketball? ›

2-1-2 Zone Defense Rotations

The player who is on ball-side will shift to guard the ball while the other player will shift to cover the high post area. The bottom three players stay in the same positions regardless of where the ball is located at the top of the key.

What is Stage 1 defending? ›

Two defenders work inside a circle of players with one ball. The red players must pass the ball around the group and try to keep possession. The two defending players must work together to mark the ball, keeping the 3ft distance, while the other defenders 'zones' the space.

How do you beat trapping defense? ›

Use the back-up and crossover dribble to avoid a trap. Dribble hard backwards and then do a quick, hard crossover dribble (or a through the legs dribble or around the back dribble) to get free, attacking the defender's shoulder.

What is one weakness of the zone defense? ›

Rebounds: The 1-3-1 zone defense is notably weak when it comes to rebounding. Focusing on bringing the ball to the baseline collapses the strategy's structure; strong and effective passing takes advantage of the remodeling by creating gaps from which to score. Learn about different rebounding drills.

What are the weakness of zone defense? ›

Disadvantages. Playing a zone entails some risks. Zones tend to be weak on the perimeter, so they are not very effective against teams with good outside shooters. Zones have gaps (areas that are not well-covered by defenders) that can be exploited by teams that pass well or have guards capable of penetrating the zone.

What is the number one priority for a half court defense? ›

Since transition defense is the key to a successful half- court defense, you will need to make it your No. 1 priority in your game plan. Transition begins immediately upon the conversion from offense to defense while the ball is still alive.

How rare is a half court shot? ›

Half-court shots are widely considered to be the lowest percentage shot in basketball. Collectively, NBA players try shots from beyond half-court a few hundred times each season; approximately 1 in 100 of those shots are made.

How do you stop a diamond press? ›

X5 is the last line of defense. Breaking the diamond press requires quick passes along with getting the ball to your best ball-handlers. Your players must be able to quickly inbound the ball before the defense can get set. 4 inbounds the ball.

What is the most effective press in basketball? ›

The Diamond press (also called the 3-1-1 or the 1-2-1-1 press) is suited for all levels of play. The press is designed to force turnovers by speeding up the decision making process of the offense. Your team must have quick players with good instincts for this press defense to be effective.

How do you camouflage a trap? ›

Camouflage the trap.

Try covering the trap with natural material like burlap. Then, place leaves, small branches, palm fronds, or whatever is in the natural environment around the top, sides, and on the floor inside the trap. Just make sure your disguise doesn't interfere with the trap door closing!


1. Use This Set Play to Attack a 1-3-1 Zone! - Basketball 2016 #58
(Championship Productions)
2. Automatic Trap Out Of 1-3-1 Zone Defense
3. How to run the 1-3-1 Zone Defense
(Coach Russ)
4. How to DESTROY a ZONE DEFENSE - Basketball Offense Breakdown Concepts
(Basketball Development LAB)
5. Utilize the 1-3-1 Defense to Create Pressure on the Ball
(Championship Productions)
6. Tight 3-1-1 Half Court Press Defense
(Basketball Coach Allen)


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